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Based on 1,709 Owner Experiences Gathered From 620 Sources
THE GOOD. Sleep Number beds offer adjustable firmness / comfort with each side having its own setting. Back-pain relief and better sleep are commonly reported. Lifespan is 30% longer than the average mattress.
THE BAD. Main owner complaints include difficulty of (initial) use, excessive firmness, an uncomfortable middle area, air loss, breakdowns / malfunctions, price, noise, and a disappointing warranty.
THE COMPANY: Sleep Number / Select Comfort makes air-supported beds ranging in price from $800-$4600 (queen, no foundation). The company – in business since 1987 and headquartered in Minneapolis, MN – dominates the permanent-use airbed market.
THE COMPETITION. Sleep Number competes against other airbeds and other specialty 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.
Sleep Number Bed Ratings – Overview
Longevity / Durability Ratings
Complaints / Problems
- difficulty of use
- middle area
- price and value
- air loss (gain)
- pain / discomfort
- compression / flattening of top
Advantages / Benefits
- adjustable firmness
- sleep quality
- pain reduction
- motion isolation
- easy to move, transport
- pregnant friendly
Sleep Position Suitability
Love Making Suitability
Trial Offer / Return Policy Ratings
Company Reputation Including BBB Rating
Adjustable Bed Bases – FlexFit
Model Prices, Specifications and Comments
The findings are based on 1,700+ 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 are based on 1,700+ consumer reviews for various Sleep Number models including Classic (c2, c4), Performance (p5, p6), Memory Foam (m6, m7), and Innovation series (i8, i10) as well as similar discontinued models. See model specifications.
|Less back pain||A-||A-||b+||b+|
|Back sleep friendly||A-||A-||B+||B+|
|Side sleep friendly||D+||C||C+||b|
|Front sleep friendly||B-||B-||B-||C+|
|Ease of (initial) use||D||D||D||D|
|No initial odor||b||b-||c-||C|
|No sleeping hot||C+||c||d+||D+|
|Good for sex||C-||c||c+||c+|
|Easy to lift, move||B+||B||B-||c+|
|Easy to maintain||C-||D+||D+||D+|
* The Memory Foam series currently has a small, statistically insignificant sample due mainly to being fairly new to market. Ratings are based on this sample as well as the estimate of Sleep Like The Dead.
Sleep Number beds overall have 78% owner satisfaction with satisfaction among the individual models varying slightly. By comparison, all mattresses overall as a group (innerspring, air, memory foam, latex, water, futon) have 72% owner satisfaction.
* partial estimate
With most mattresses, durability and longevity mean basically the same thing. But with the Sleep Number bed (and airbeds 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 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 – such as a leaking air chamber, broken pump, malfunctioning controller, or deteriorating comfort layer or edge support.
Longevity refers to the lifespan of a mattress. Sleep Number beds have better longevity than most mattresses in part because any problem that the beds develop 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.
Of course, at some point during Sleep Number bed ownership, it will likely become cheaper to buy a new bed than to continue buying replacement parts.
As the chart below shows, owners overall report keeping their Sleep Number bed for about ten years, considerably longer than the average mattress.
* partial estimate
Below are the main disadvantages and problems of the beds as reported by owners.
Conventional mattresses are easy to use in that you simply lie on them and no adjustment is involved. By contrast, airbeds in general including Sleep Number involve a learning curve in that you must find which setting is right for you personally. At least 30% of owners say that significant time and effort was required to find their optimal setting or "sleep number."
Also, your preferred setting may vary depending on your sleep position requiring you to change the setting each time you change position.
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.
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 bed tend to be reported mainly by owners who use very different firmness settings for each side of the bed, such as 90-20. It may also be a problem when both sides use a very low or very high firmness setting.
It should be noted that the Sleep Number c4 model uses a design that may minimize any problem with the middle of the bed.
At least 18% of owners, especially owners of more expensive models, complain about the price they paid. Indeed, prices for the top-of-the-line Sleep Number models are more than twice that of the average mattress.
In addition, long-term cost can be substantial mainly because non-prorated warranty coverage ends after just the second year of ownership.
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 mostly with relatively simple materials.
This causes a significant number of owners to question the high price and overall value of the 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.
At least 12% of Sleep Number bed owners report that their bed loses air, either slowly or quickly. Faulty air pumps, loose connections, malfunctioning controllers and air bladder leaks are the most common causes of significant 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 Classic models and even Performance models are too firm for some people, especially side sleepers.
To deal with this problem, about 15% of owners, especially owners of the Classic Series models, add a mattress topper to their bed to improve comfort.
Air loss and the corresponding loss of support can also cause discomfort or pain. In addition, an improper setting can cause the sleep area to bow in or bow out which can put one's spine in an unnatural and uncomfortable position especially for side and stomach sleepers.
Other main causes of discomfort / pain appear to be mostly the result of the middle problem as well as a sagging comfort layer (see complaint #6).
Around 15% of Sleep Number bed owners report that the foam around the edges of the bed and or the comfort layer sags, compresses or develops body impressions. This can cause discomfort and undermine sleep quality, say owners. (Edge foam problems are not an issue with the c4 model as it uses a design which eliminates such foam.)
Edge foam and the comfort layer can 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 comfort layers have the most complaints regarding compression / body impression development; the Performance series models with their moderately thick tops have fewer complaints; and the Classic Series models with their minimal comfort layers have few if any complaints.
While conventional mattresses are often mostly if not totally silent, airbeds in general, including Sleep Number beds, can make some noise due mainly to the fact they use electric air pumps to adjust their firmness / support level.
While air pumps have become quieter in recent years, some owners (about 5%) still 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.
In addition, Sleep Number beds may also produce a rustling, crunching, or squeaking noise when moved on, say about 7% of owners.
Below are the top advantages and benefits of Sleep Number beds according to owners.
Airbeds, including Sleep Number beds, are the only type of bed that provide instant firmness adjustment. At least 45% of Sleep Number bed owners praise their bed for this feature. However, finding one's ideal adjustment setting or "Sleep Number" can take considerable time and patience.
Adjustable firmness is well-liked by owners primarily for these reasons:
It should be noted that at least 15% 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. In other words, these owners say that a lower number does not feel softer, just flatter, and a higher number does not feel firmer, just more bulging.
At least 30% of owners say their Sleep Number bed allows them to sleep better with less tossing, turning and restlessness. 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 about 25% of owners, a Sleep Number bed relieves or even eliminates pain that one may feel both in and out of bed. Relief of back pain especially is commonly noted.
As the charts below show, Sleep Number beds perform better than the average mattress in regard to pain relief. Other mattresses – namely competing airbeds and Tempur-Pedic – may equal Sleep Number's ability to reduce pain, but none likely exceed it.
Among Sleep Number bed owners, back sleepers are most likely to report pain decrease.
Chart 1. Portion of Sleep Number bed owners reporting back pain decrease, back pain increase or no significant difference either way.
Chart 2. Portion of owners of the average mattress reporting back pain decrease, back pain increase or no significant difference either way.
While not a major strength, the Sleep Number bed (two air-chamber models) is for most owners at least moderately effective at 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.
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'."
The relatively low weight of the beds combined with the fact that they can be disassembled and broken down into individual components make them relatively easy to handle, lift, move, or transport.
Pregnant women tend to rate Sleep Number beds high. They say the adjustability and support potential generally help to relieve some of the difficulties that come with pregnancy.
Sleep Number beds, like airbeds in general, tend to perform well for back sleep due likely to their potentially high level of support and conforming ability. Those models with thinner comfort layers tend to be the most supportive and conforming. The following indicates what tends to be true for back sleep; your own personal evaluation may differ.
The beds overall perform somewhat better than the average mattress for side sleep. Softer models – those with thicker comfort layers – tend to perform best. Side sleepers may need to place extra emphasis on the adjustment level to ensure that the mattress does not bow in or bow out as this can put the spine in an unnatural and uncomfortable position. The following indicates what tends to be true for side sleep; your personal evaluation may differ.
Based on limited owner experience data, the beds overall perform somewhat above average for stomach (front) sleep. Those models with medium firmness comfort layers tend to perform best. Stomach sleepers may need to place extra emphasis on the adjustment level to ensure that the mattress does not bow in as this can put the spine in an unnatural and uncomfortable position. The following indicates what tends to be true for stomach sleep; your personal evaluation may differ.
* Ratings are a partial estimate.
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 generally not good for sex because most models have a trench or intrusion in the bed's middle where the two air chambers meet. The c4's design, however, likely reduces this problem.
This trench or intrusion, 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.
Other airbed brands tend to not have this degree of middle problem.
For more general information see the mattress & sex comparison.
About 6% of owners overall report significant and bothersome heat retention, especially in summer months. Heat retention potential can vary by model.
By contrast, about 5% of owners report their bed sleeping cold, especially in winter months.
Sleep Number offers DualTemp – a layer designed to heat or cool each side of the bed – as well as a variety of temperature-regulating toppers and pads. Owner experience data on the effectiveness of these product is mixed. Learn about other temperature-control products.
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 well 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 1,700 owners.
Sleep Number beds, like airbeds in general, 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 / or be uncomfortable. In fact, improper assembly may be a significant cause of owner dissatisfaction.
Upon delivery, for an additional fee, the bed can be assembled by professionals.
Sleep Number mattresses weigh 37-120 pounds depending on model and size making them less heavy than many conventional mattresses. Their relatively low weight is due mostly to the fact that they consist of air to a significant extent.
Their below-average weight, however, causes some people – namely those who associate low weight with cheapness – to question Sleep Number's mostly above-average price.
Low maintenance is not a strength of airbeds in general, including Sleep Number, for the following reasons.
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 that 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 deterioration 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 general 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.
In addition, after the first two years you are responsible for all shipping costs related to any repaired or replaced product.
Sleep Number's return policy consists of a 100-day trial period which allows the customer to send the bed back for an exchange or a 100% refund minus initial shipping and any setup fees. The customer is also responsible for return shipping fees as well as preparing the bed components for shipping. The cost to the consumer to return / exchange a Sleep Number bed often adds up to several hundred dollars.
Competitor airbed brands often have somewhat superior return policies overall.
As is often true for other brands, there are NO returns or exchanges for adjustable bases, closeout or demo bed models.
Sleep Number / Select Comfort customer service overall is considered by consumers to be at least average.
This rating refers to what extent Sleep Number discloses the specifications and general policies for its beds. The disclosing of such information allows consumers to know what they are paying for and helps in comparison shopping.
On their website, only the most basic mattress specifications are provided. And warranty terms as well as details for the 100-day trial are not easily or conveniently located. Most other airbed companies are more open about their specifications and policies.
This rating refers to what extent Sleep Number's claims about its beds are factual and reasonably reflect the experience of their average customer.
Sleep Number makes an uncited claim on their website that their bed is highest rated. In addition, a significant number of owners feel misled by the "25-year warranty" because non-prorated coverage ends after just the second year of ownership.
Aside from these possible issues, the company provides even-handed and factual information.
Select Comfort Corp., the manufacturer of Sleep Number beds, currently has an "A+" rating which it has maintained for many years. About 499 complaints against Select Comfort Corp. have been closed in the past three years, 36% of them in the past year. Learn more about BBB ratings and what they mean.
SLTD company rating for Select Comfort / Sleep Number is "C" based on the following evaluations (1 = poor, 10 = excellent).
|Time in Business||7|
|BBB Rating Stability||10|
|Number of BBB Complaints / Business Size Ratio||3|
Total: 86-100 = A+ • 81-85 = A • 77-80 = A- • 73-76 = B+ • 69-72 = B • 65-68 = B- • 61-64 = C+ • 57-60 = C • 53-56 = C- • 49-52 = D+ • 45-48 = D
Sleep Number sells (non-returnable) FlexFit adjustable bed bases priced $1000-$4800. These bases can raise a person's lower and / or upper body making them generally effective at providing various health, comfort and convenience benefits.
Sleep Number beds can be placed on most brands of adjustable bed bases, not only FlexFit. Learn how FlexFit models compare to the competition: adjustable bed base ratings.
The following table provides the basic differences and similarities, pros & cons as well as the estimated specifications of the various models. Keep in mind:
|Prices||Thickness||Surface||Comfort / Foam Layer(s)*|
|COMMENT: 1) Differences in firmness setting are clearly noticeable due to lack of comfort layer. 2) Not ideal for sleepers who use a low number setting as bottoming out is possible due to only 8" thickness. 3) Often not well suited for side sleep due to lack of comfort layer, and as a result 20%+ of owners buy a mattress topper to soften the bed. 4) Comes with older / less advanced remote than other models.
|9"||polyester / rayon blend||2" regular foam|
|COMMENT: 1) The c4 has a newer design than that of other Sleep Number models as no foam borders are used and the air chambers extend to bed's edges. This design likely reduces the middle problem as well as any need to rotate foam borders. 2) Often not ideally suited for side sleep due to fairly thin comfort layer, and as a result about 15% of owners buy a mattress topper to soften the bed.
|11"||polyester / rayon blend||3" pillow top
2" regular foam
|COMMENT: Popular model. May be too firm for some side sleepers.|
|12"||rayon / polyester w/ temper- ature balancing fabric||3" pillow top
3" regular foam
|COMMENT: P6 has one inch more regular foam and a somewhat better cover than P5 yet is considerably more expensive.|
|10"||quilted knit rayon/ polyester||2" memory foam (4 lbs/ft)
1" regular foam
|COMMENT: Has above-average heat retention potential. Competes with Tempur-Pedic Choice Supreme.|
|12"||quilted knit rayon/ polyester||3" gel memory foam (4 lbs/ft)
1" regular foam
|COMMENT: Has above-average heat retention potential. Competes with Tempur-Pedic Choice Supreme.|
|13"||woven polyester/ rayon w/ temper- ature balancing fabric||2" pillow top
3" regular foam
|COMMENT: Often well-suited for all sleeping positions.|
|15"||knit polyester/ rayon, w/ temper- ature balancing fabric||3" pillow top
reversible 2" memory foam (4 lbs/ft) and 2" regular foam
|COMMENT: Only model that comes with two remotes standard. Best suited for those seeking a tall profile and soft comfort layer.|
* 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. A thicker comfort layer tends to be softer, a thinner one tends to be firmer.
Ratings are based on 1,690+ Sleep Number (Select Comfort) bed owner experiences, including reviews for Classic, Performance, Memory Foam and Innovation series.
Learn about our 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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