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Based on 1,642 Consumer Experiences
THE GOOD. The Sleep Number Bed offers adjustable firmness / comfort for each side. Pain-relief potential and lifespan / longevity are above average. Owners who approve of the bed tend to highly approve.
THE BAD. An uncomfortable middle area, air loss, air pump noise, breakdowns / malfunctions, price, and below-average warranty coverage are the main owner complaints. Owners who disapprove of the bed tend to highly disapprove.
THE COMPANY: Sleep Number / Select Comfort makes permanent-use air beds ranging in price from $700-$4400 (queen, no foundation). The company – in business since 1987 and headquartered in Minneapolis, MN – dominates the permanent-use air bed market.
THE COMPETITION. Sleep Number competes against other airbeds and other similarly priced mattresses such as Tempur-Pedic (see Sleep Number vs Tempur-Pedic). Also see the mattress comparison to learn how other brands compare to Sleep Number based on thousands of consumer experiences.
Sleep Number Bed Ratings – Overview
Longevity / Durability Ratings
Complaints / Problems
- middle area
- price and value
- air loss (gain)
- pain / discomfort
- compression / flattening of top
Advantages / Benefits
- adjustable firmness
- sleep quality
- pain reduction
- motion isolation
- pregnant friendly
Love Making Suitability
Trial Offer / Return Policy Ratings
Company Reputation Including BBB Rating
Model Prices, Specifications and Comments
The research findings are based on 1,640 Sleep Number (Select Comfort) bed owner reviews and comments collected from hundreds of online message boards and other credible sources. Sleep Like the Dead receives NO COMPENSATION in any form from any company, organization or individual to affect in any way or degree the content or findings of our mattress research. Learn more about our unbiased and accurate research methodology.
The ratings below are based on 1,640+ consumer reviews for various Sleep Number models including Classic (c2, c3, c4), Performance (p5, p6), Memory Foam (m7, m9), and Innovation series (i8, i10) as well as similar discontinued models.
(c2, c3, c4)
|Side sleep friendly||c-||b-||b-||b+|
|Back sleep friendly||b||b+||b+||b|
|Front sleep friendly||b-||b+||b+||b|
|Easy to move on||b+||b||c+||b-|
|No initial odor||b||b-||c-||b-|
|No sleeping hot||b||c+||c-||c|
|Good for sex||C-||c||c||c+|
* The Memory Foam series models currently have a small, statistically insignificant sample size due mainly to the fact that they are fairly new to the market. Ratings are based on this limited sample as well as the estimate of the Sleep Like The Dead editor.
Sleep Number beds as a group have 78% owner satisfaction ( ). The Innovation series models tend to rate slightly higher than the Classic, Performance and Memory Foam series models.
By comparison, all mattresses overall as a group (innerspring, air, memory foam, latex, water, futon) have 72% owner satisfaction.
With most mattresses, durability and longevity mean basically the same thing. But with the Sleep Number bed (and permanent-use air beds in general), durability and longevity can and should be evaluated separately.
Mattress durability refers to how well a bed will hold up to regular use without something breaking or deteriorating. On this issue, the Sleep Number bed performs about average or worse compared to all mattresses overall. This is largely because the bed, unlike other mattress types, is mechanical in some ways and, as a result, more can conceivably go wrong with it.
At least 20% of Sleep Number bed owners report having over the span of ownership at least one durability problem of some kind – such as a leaking air chamber, broken pump, or malfunctioning controller.
Longevity refers to the lifespan of a mattress. The Sleep Number bed has better longevity than most mattresses in part because any problem the bed develops can be repaired with a replacement part sent to the owner from Sleep Number / Select Comfort. Replacement parts can be not only mechanical parts, such as pumps and controllers, but also non-mechanical parts such as support foam and comfort layers.
By contrast, with other types of beds, such as innerspring mattresses, if something stops working properly or deteriorates, such as the spring system or comfort layer, the bed usually needs to be entirely replaced.
Another reason the Sleep Number bed has above average longevity is due to the fact that it uses air to support the sleeper. Air, unlike springs or foam, cannot compress and breakdown with age and wear.
The ability to replace any part of the Sleep Number bed, and the relative ease by which it can be done, can result in significant length of ownership. Owner experience data, in fact, shows the bed to have one of the longest life spans of any mattress.
The graph below shows that owners on average report keeping their Sleep Number bed for about ten years. Some owners keep the bed for a considerably longer time than ten years and some for a considerably shorter time.
Below are the main disadvantages and problems of the Sleep Number bed as reported by actual owners.
Percent of owners reporting problem
About 20% of Sleep Number bed owners report a problem with the middle of the bed where the two air chambers meet.
Some owners say there is a "valley" or "trench" in the middle, while others report a "hump." There also can be a problem with one or both sides of the bed sloping toward the middle which can cause a sleeper to roll or slide in that direction.
The middle area may be uncomfortable to lie on, and it can be less than friendly for intimate activities, including cuddling, spooning and sex.
It should be noted that Sleep Number customer service may have solutions to problems with the middle, such as a "lift" which is a piece of foam that is placed under the air chambers to raise the middle.
Problems with the middle of the Sleep Number bed tend to be reported mainly by owners who use very different firmness settings for each side of the bed, such as 80-20. By contrast, owners who use more similar settings for each side tend to not report the middle as a significant problem.
At least 20% of owners, especially owners of more expensive models, complain about the price they paid. Indeed, prices for the more expensive Sleep Number models are about twice that of the average mattress.
Most mattresses priced similar to Sleep Number are heavy in weight and are made with at least somewhat exotic materials. Sleep Number beds, by contrast, are fairly lightweight and are made with relatively simple materials. This causes a significant number of owners to question the high price and resulting value of their bed; the term "glorified air mattress" is often used by these owners to describe the bed. In fact, Sleep Number bed owners question the value of their bed more often than owners of any other mattress including similarly priced beds such as Tempur-Pedic.
At least 12% of Sleep Number bed owners report that their bed loses air, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly. Faulty air pumps, loose connections, malfunctioning controllers and air bladder leaks are the most common causes of air loss. Air loss can result in reduced comfort and support and may even cause pain, including back pain. It can also result in less than restful sleep due to the owner needing to readjust the firmness throughout the night.
In addition, firmness settings can automatically fluctuate significantly in either direction, depending on temperature, barometric pressure, weight and sleeping position.
At least 10% of Sleep Number bed owners say that the bed causes discomfort or pain or makes preexisting pain worse, particularly back, shoulder, hip and joint pain. The chart below shows the top reasons owners give for experiencing pain on a Sleep Number bed.
Top Reasons For Experiencing Pain
As the chart above shows, the main cause of discomfort and pain is excessive firmness as Sleep Number beds in general are considered to be more firm than soft. The less expensive Classic Series models, especially c2 and c3, are firmest due to their minimal padding.
About 10% of Sleep Number bed owners, especially owners of the Classic Series models, report adding a topper to their bed, usually a memory foam topper, to improve comfort. Most of these owners report success.
Around 10% of Sleep Number bed owners report that the foam around the edges of the bed and or the pillow top sags, compresses or develops body impressions. This can cause discomfort and undermine sleep quality, say owners.
Some methods can be effective in rejuvenating a Sleep Number bed pillow top such as using a vacuum hose to puff it up, taking the top off the bed and shaking it, or putting the top in a large dryer.
If such methods are ineffective, however, the pillow top will need to be replaced. Some owners purchase a new top from Sleep Number, while others replace their top with a mattress topper purchased from an independent retailer, often at a lower price.
The Innovation Series models with their thick pillow tops have the most complaints regarding compression / body impression development; the Performance series models with their moderately thick tops have fewer complaints; and the no-pillow top Classic Series models have the fewest complaints.
While most mattresses are generally silent, air beds in general, including Sleep Number beds, can make significant noise because they use electric air pumps to adjust the firmness level.
Even though the air pumps are touted to be "whisper quiet," as many as 10% of owners report that the pumps are loud enough that they cannot be used during the night without the risk of waking a sleeping partner. Pumps that are defective in some way may be especially loud.
Below are the main advantages and benefits of the Sleep Number bed according to owners.
Percent of owners reporting advantage / benefit
Permanent-use air beds, such as the Sleep Number bed, are the only type of bed that provides instant firmness adjustability. At least 30% of Sleep Number bed owners praise the bed for this feature.
Adjustable firmness is well-liked by owners primarily for the following reasons:
It should be noted that about 10% of owners do not agree that a Sleep Number bed truly has adjustable firmness, that is, the ability to change from soft to firm or firm to soft. Instead, they say the bed has adjustable support, meaning that adjustment affects spinal alignment, not firmness levels. These owners say that a lower number does not feel softer, just flatter.
At least 20% of owners say their Sleep Number bed allows them to sleep better with less tossing, turning and restlessness. They often say that a lack of significant pressure points is the main reason for their improved sleep. Some owners also say they sleep more efficiently on the bed, that is, they sleep more soundly and can spend less time in bed as a result.
For at least 20% of owners, a Sleep Number bed relieves or even eliminates pain that one may feel both in and out of bed. Relief of back, shoulder, hip and joint pain are commonly noted.
As the charts below show, Sleep Number beds perform better than the average mattress in regard to pain relief. Other mattresses, such as Tempur-Pedic, may equal a Sleep Number bed's ability to reduce pain, but none exceed it.
Chart 1. Portion of Sleep Number bed owners reporting pain decrease, pain increase or no significant difference either way.
Chart 2. Portion of owners of the average mattress reporting pain decrease, pain increase or no significant difference either way.
For most owners, especially those who previously owned an innerspring mattress, the Sleep Number bed does a fair to good job in localizing motion. In other words, movement made by a person on one side of the bed does not fully transfer across the bed to disturb another person on the bed.
About 5% of owners, however, say their Sleep Number bed has poor motion isolation. These owners are almost always people who previously owned memory foam mattresses which have superior motion isolation. Consistent with this fact, the Memory Foam series models likely have somewhat better motion isolation than the other Sleep Number bed models.
In addition, Sleep Number has made the following statement about motion isolation.
"Under certain circumstances, there might be motion detected (up/down) on one side of the bed if someone gets out. There is some lateral pressure exerted on the air chambers against each other where they meet. If someone gets out of bed, the occupied chamber now has more 'room' and will slightly expand to the center and cause a 'drop' for the sleeper. When the other person gets back in bed, it may cause that chamber to expand and press back against the other, causing a 'rise'."
Pregnant women as a group rate Sleep Number beds higher than other beds. They say the beds' adjustable firmness and good supportiveness generally help to relieve some of the difficulties that come with pregnancy.
About half of the owners included in our research who commented on the issue say their Sleep Number bed is suitable for sex, or at least no less suitable than other beds. The other half say the Sleep Number bed is not good for sex overall because the beds have a trench or intrusion in the middle where the two air chambers meet.
This, they say, makes being in the middle of the bed uncomfortable and causes them to have sex on one side of the bed or the other which does not leave enough room. However, owner experience data suggests that the trench / intrusion in the middle can be minimized by having each side of the bed set with the same firmness level.
Owners also report that the trench / intrusion in the middle may not allow them to spoon or cuddle with their partner comfortably.
For more information see the mattress and sex comparison.
Sleep Number beds, unlike most other beds, require assembly. Most owners, but not all, say that assembly is easy and takes about 40-90 minutes depending on whether one or two people are involved.
Care should be taken with assembly as owner experience data suggests that poor assembly can cause the bed to not function properly and be uncomfortable. In fact, poor assembly may be a significant cause of owner dissatisfaction.
Upon delivery, for an additional fee, the bed can be assembled by professionals.
No more than 3% of owners report finding mold in their Sleep Number bed, usually between the foam and air chambers. A small number of these owners report feeling ill because of the mold. Mold / mildew problems in a Sleep Number bed is a widely publicized and discussed issue. However, the number of owners who have a mold problem, or at least are aware of having such a problem, is small based on our collected data involving over 1,600 owners.
Sleep Number mattresses weigh 37-90 pounds making them no heavier than many conventional mattresses. Their limited weight is due mostly to the fact that they consist of air to a significant extent. As a result, the beds can be relatively easy to move, transport, handle and lift. Their weight, however, causes some people, namely those who associate lower weight with low cost, to question the above-average price of the beds and their value.
Sleep Number beds have a 25-year limited warranty.
Sleep Number bed owners overall give the warranty a below-average rating mainly because non-prorated coverage ends after just the second year of ownership. (Non-prorated coverage means the customer pays nothing for repairs / replacement, while prorated means the customer pays partial cost.) Owners also tend to be disappointed that the warranty does not cover comfort layer compression and flattening – a somewhat common problem.
By comparison, other air bed brands often provide at least a slightly longer non-prorated period. And the brands of most other mattress types, such as innerspring and memory foam, often provide non-prorated warranty coverage for 10 years.
For more information, see mattress warranties: what you should know.
|0-2 years after purchase||No cost to owner for repair|
|3-20 years after purchase||Owner pays 20% of repair costs plus 4% of repair cost for each year from original purchase date|
|21-25 years after purchase||Owner pays 96% of repair cost.|
For the 3-20 year portion of the warranty, here is an example. You have a problem that costs $200 to repair and you've had the Sleep Number Bed for 10 years. You will pay 20% of the cost ($200 x 20% = $40) plus 4% of the cost times 10 years (4% x $200 x 10 = $80). So you will owe $120 ($40+$80) of the $200 repair cost and Sleep Number will pay the rest.
Sleep Number's return policy consists of a 100-day trial period in which if you do not like the product you can send it back for an exchange or 100% refund minus initial shipping and any setup fees. (There are no returns or exchanges for adjustable bases, closeout or demo bed models.)
Sleep Number bed owners overall give the return policy fair-to-poor ratings. Owners like the trial period but do not like that they must pay return shipping if they send it back. Competitor air bed brands usually have less costly return policies. (For more information, see returning a mattress: what you should know.)
SLTD Rating (Sleep Like The Dead's rating) for Select Comfort / Sleep Number is a "B." The rating is based on a combination of factors including product ratings by consumers, customer service, years in business, accuracy of marketing claims, warranty and Better Business Bureau ratings.
Select Comfort Corp., the manufacturer of Sleep Number beds, is currently accredited with the Better Business Bureau and has an "A+" rating. About 380 complaints against Select Comfort Corp. have been filed in the past three years. The company's rating historically has been mostly stable. Learn more about BBB ratings and what they mean.
The following table shows the basic differences and similarities between the various models. A base / foundation, which is $200-$450 depending on size, is not included in the prices below. Also not included are temporary sale prices or promotions. Additional sizes other than what are listed below are often available such as twin XL, double, expanded queen, California king, and split king.
|8"||firm||polyprop- ylene / rayon blend||1" regular foam||wireless digital|
|COMMENT: Not well suited for side sleep due to high firmness. Some consumers buy this model and then add their own comfort layer / topper. This often saves money because a main difference between this model and more expensive ones is comfort layer thickness.|
|8"||mostly firm||polyprop- ylene / rayon blend||1.5" regular foam||wireless digital|
|COMMENT: Has an inch more padding than c2, but is still mostly firm and not ideally suited for side sleep.|
|9"||medium firm||polyprop- ylene / rayon blend||2" regular foam||wireless digital|
|COMMENT: Potentially suited for all sleeping positions.|
|11"||medium firm||rayon / polyester||4" regular foam||wireless digital w/ memory|
|COMMENT: Given its features, the p5 has value potential.|
|12"||medium||rayon / polyester with Outlast||5" regular foam||wireless digital w/ memory|
|COMMENT: P6 has one inch more regular foam and a somewhat better cover then p5, yet it is considerably more expensive. Value questionable.|
|12"||medium firm||quilted knit rayon/ polyester||3" gel memory foam (4 lbs/ft)
2" regular foam
|wireless digital w/full fill & memory|
|COMMENT: Competes with Tempur-Pedic Choice Supreme. Potential for off gassing odor.|
|13"||medium||Outlast||5" memory foam (2.5 lb)
1" regular foam
|wireless digital w/full fill & memory|
|COMMENT: Competes with Tempur-Pedic Choice Luxe. Has enough memory foam (5") to be considered true air / memory foam hybrid. Potential for off gassing odor.|
|13"||medium soft||Outlast , woven polyester/ rayon||2" pillow top
4" regular foam
|wireless digital w/full fill & memory|
|COMMENT: Questionable value, even at sale price.|
|15"||mostly soft||Outlast , knit polyester/ rayon||3" pillow top
3" memory foam (4 lbs/ft)
2" regular foam
|wireless digital w/full fill & memory|
|COMMENT: Suited for those seeking a tall profile and softness.|
* While firmness / comfort can be adjusted by adding or removing air, the general firmness of the bed is largely determined by the thickness and composition of the comfort layer which varies by model. In addition, the firmness descriptions indicate what tends to be true; your own personal evaluation may differ.
Our ratings are based on 1,640+ Sleep Number (Select Comfort) bed owner experiences, including reviews for Classic, Performance, Memory Foam and Innovation series. The data was collected from hundreds of diverse online message boards. Get the details of our bed research methodology and sources.
We receive NO compensation of any kind from any company, organization or individual to affect in any way or degree the content of our mattress research.
IN THE NEWS: Sleep Like The Dead's research findings have appeared in such news publications as Barron's • Toronto Star • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Edmonton Journal • Woman's World • The Consumerist • The Gazette • Ottawa Citizen
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