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Should You Get an Adjustable Bed? (Pros v Cons)

Dr. Dimitar Marinov Profile Picture Bedroom Style Reviews

If you’re thinking about buying a new bed, then you might be wondering if you should buy an adjustable bed or stick with a regular frame given the extra cost associated with buying an adjustable base.

Buying an adjustable bed frame could be worth it if you have mobility issues, want to read/watch TV in bed, sleep as a couple and need different sleeping angles, are pregnant, need to recover faster from exercise; have conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, acid reflux, GERD, or edema.

In the case of suffering from a medical condition, it’s advised that you check with your doctor to ensure that buying an adjustable bed is the right decision in your case.

The rest of this article explains the potential pros and cons of adjustable beds, plus 6 pre-purchase considerations that you need to take into account before buying an adjustable bed.

I’ve also included a section that compares adjustable bases with regular bases for a quick head-to-head comparison at the end of the article.

Alternatively: if you’ve already decided that you’d like to buy an adjustable bed, I highly recommend choosing a base from my list of the best mattresses that come with an adjustable base (reviews included) because you can save $100’s in discounts when buying through the buttons on that page.

6 Adjustable Bed Pre-Purchase Considerations

Below are the 6 main pre-purchase considerations that you should take into account before deciding if you should buy an adjustable bed or not:

1: Do You Really Need an Adjustable Bed?

Adjustable beds aren’t cheap – you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $3,500 for an adjustable frame depending on the size and the brand.

So before buying an adjustable bed, you need to look past the marketing hype and find out if the extra cost is really worth it in your case.

Based on my extensive research, the studies and numerous anecdotal reports suggest that an adjustable bed may be genuinely beneficial for you if you fall into any of the following categories:

Seniors and those with mobility issues

Adjustable beds are traditionally used in hospitals and care homes to provide more individualized comfort and better mobility for impaired individuals – with many of the features carrying over from these ‘profiling beds’ to the modern adjustable beds that you can now buy for your own home.

So if you find it difficult to get in and out of bed then an adjustable bed could be ideal for you because raising the upper portion of the bed frame can make it easier to sit up and recline without putting a lot of stress on your joints.

Some higher-end adjustable beds may also allow you to raise and lower the entire profile of the bed as a unit, whilst ‘sleep to stand’ beds can move you from the lying to standing position (and vice-versa) with the single press of a button.

Couples

If you sleep as a couple and you each want to have total control over your sleeping position then you can buy a split king adjustable frame (that’s typically able to fit 2 twin xl mattresses) so that you can control each half of the bed separately.

And because the mattresses are separated, this means that movements on one mattress are less likely to be felt on the other mattress (providing that the frame is well assembled) which could be ideal if one of you (or both) are restless sleepers that shuffle around a lot and annoy the other person.

Alternatively, you can both sleep on the same king or queen-sized mattress that’s under the singular control of one adjustable frame if you have very similar sleeping requirements (consider an all-foam latex or memory foam mattress to help suppress movements).

Pregnant women

If you are pregnant then you may find that elevating the upper portion of your adjustable bed frame makes it a lot easier to sit up and recline without stressing your abdominal wall.

Athletes

If you are an athlete or an active, sporty person, then you may find that an adjustable bed that comes with a massage/3D wave massage function could help to speed up recovery times and reduce muscle soreness because studies have shown that therapeutic whole-body vibration (WBV) can increase peripheral blood flow [1] which has been linked to the reduction of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and also help with recovery from strains, sprains, and swelling [2].

Have certain conditions

While much of the supposed health benefits of adjustable beds are often embellished for marketing purposes, there’s some evidence and strong anecdotal reporting that an adjustable bed may be able to help with the following conditions (but ALWAYS talk to your doctor before buying an adjustable bed or sleep product based on your health needs):

  • Musculoskeletal pain and associated conditions – many adjustable beds come with the ‘zero gravity’ setting which allows you to assume a reclined position where your upper body and legs are inclined slightly to reduce the forces on your upper and lower back which may help to reduce musculoskeletal pain (which could be associated with arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), and others).
  • Digestive discomfort – elevating the upper portion of the adjustable bed frame may help to alleviate the discomfort associated with digestive issues like acid reflux and GERD.
  • Breathing issues – if you have COPD, snore, or have sleep apnea then some people have reported that sleeping with the upper section of the adjustable bed elevated helps to open up their airways for easier breathing and relief from such conditions.
  • Swelling – raising the lower portion of the bed may help to reduce the swelling in your legs and feet which could be beneficial if you have edema.

Sitting up in bed

If you sit up in bed to watch TV, read a book, or work at your laptop then you will likely find it more comfortable to elevate the head section of your adjustable bed when compared to stacking your pillows or leaning against your headboard.

2: Is the Frame Compatible With Your Mattress?

If you already have your mattress and you’re planning to buy an adjustable frame separately to go with it then you first need to check that your mattress is compatible with the frame.

If you don’t know, then locate the mattress company’s website and scour the product description/sales page to see if the mattress is compatible with adjustable frames.

If the answer is ‘yes’ then you need to ensure that the mattress is compatible with ANY adjustable frame and not just an adjustable base sold by the same company.

You should also read the terms of the warranty to see if using an adjustable base will void the warranty.

However, if you’re going to buy your adjustable frame and a new mattress at the same time then I highly recommend checking out my list of the best mattresses that come with an adjustable frame because they are guaranteed to be compatible.

3: Will You Need Help With the Set-Up?

Some adjustable beds can be heavy and quite tedious to set up.

So if you have mobility issues or simply don’t fancy dealing with the hassle of putting together an adjustable bed by yourself, you can either enlist the help of a friend or family member, or look for an adjustable bed that comes with white glove delivery – where a professional will assemble the bed for you in your home.

White glove delivery may come as standard, but most companies will charge you extra for it.

If you don’t want white glove delivery, then I recommend the Puffy Adjustable Base because most of the frame comes pre-assembled – meaning that you can put it together yourself with relative ease.

4: Is Your Sleeping Position Compatible?

If you sleep on your back then you should have no problem sleeping in an adjustable bed in the elevated or flat position.

You can sleep on your side in an adjustable bed in the flat position and to some extent in the inclined position; although this may become uncomfortable at the highest elevations – adjustable beds that allow for the reverse Trendelenburg position can allow you to have your head elevated above your feet whilst your body remains flat [3].

Sleeping on your front is possible in an adjustable bed in the flat position but uncomfortable or impossible to achieve in an elevated position.

5: Will the Frame Match Your Decor?

Whilst the profiling and hospital beds found in hospitals and nursing homes are generally pretty ugly looking, the adjustable beds that you can buy for your home are typically more aesthetically pleasing.

However, you’ll want to see if the accent colors of your adjustable bed will match your bedding and walls, plus your other bedroom furniture to ensure that everything complements your existing bedroom decor.

And in many cases, you can fit an adjustable bed with your preferred headboard to create your own centerpiece that’s both functional and pleasing to look at.

6: What Features Do You Need?

Adjustable bed frames range from the very basic – comprising of just the ability to elevate the upper portion of the bed – to the more complex with many additional features.

To avoid spending more money than you really need, check which of the following features you think could be beneficial for you and which are surplus to your requirements:

  • Head elevation – standard with all adjustable beds, the ability to raise the upper portion of the bed (either as a single unit or with an added ‘head tilt’ function) up to around 60-70 degrees can make it easier to get in and out of bed as well as make watching TV or reading your book in bed much more comfortable.
  • Wall hugging – adjustable beds with a wall-hugging feature allows you to incline the upper portion of the bed whilst remaining in the same relative position. The wall-hugging feature is a good feature if you wake up often in the night and need to be able to incline the bed without ending up out of arm’s reach of your bedside table. To see how a wall-hugging adjustable bed operates in contrast to a non-wall hugging adjustable bed, check out the video towards the end of the buying guide in my list of the best adjustable beds that come with a mattress.
  • Zero gravity – the zero gravity position allows you to assume a reclined position where your upper legs and body are slightly elevated to induce a feeling of ‘weightlessness’ that may help to reduce the pressure on your lower back whilst also helping to open your airways and reduce swelling in your legs and feet.
  • Massage – adjustable beds with a massage/3D wave massage function may help to increase circulation and blood perfusion which could help to improve muscle recovery if you exercise a lot, as well as being relaxing. Most adjustable beds will have multiple massage settings with various intensity options.

5 Adjustable Bed Benefits

Below are 5 of the specific benefits associated with adjustable beds that you might like to factor into your buying decision:

1: Greater Mobility

The greatest benefit of buying an adjustable bed is that it can make getting in and out of bed a lot easier by raising up the top portion of the bed.

This capability could be especially useful if you have difficulty sitting up, are pregnant, or suffer from sporting injuries and muscle soreness frequently.

When I was wresting and doing MMA, I tore my intercostal muscles twice (the muscles that wrap around your rib cage).

Not only was this exceptionally painful, but it made sitting up in bed and lying down very difficult – it would often take me several minutes to be able to get into position.

If I’d owned an adjustable bed at the time then this wouldn’t have been such a significant problem because I could have just pressed a button in order to sit up and recline as required.

2: Personalized Comfort

Even if you’re able-bodied, then an adjustable bed could still be a worthy purchase if you spend a lot of time reading, watching TV, or working from your laptop in your bed because it can help you to maintain a better posture and combat neck strain.

3: Pain Reduction

Beyond the lifestyle comfort benefits, adjusting the surface of your adjustable bed to suit your personal preferences may be able to give you more control over reducing pain when compared to a regular bed.

Because even if you don’t use the zero gravity position (which may be able to help alleviate lower back pain), adjusting the upper and lower portions of the bed may be able to help you work around various aches and pains.

This means that an adjustable bed may be a good choice if you have complex, acute, or chronic pain associated with conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, or osteoporosis.

But again, you should always consult with a qualified medical professional before investing in an adjustable bed to help with your health condition because it may not be needed or could have no effect.

4: Possible Relief From Certain Conditions

As mentioned earlier, there is a body of anecdotal reports that suggest that an adjustable bed may be able to help alleviate the discomfort associated with some medical conditions.

Most notably, elevating the head portion of your adjustable bed may help to reduce snoring, combat sleep apnea, and reduce the discomfort associated with acid reflux and GERD.

5: Benefits For Couples

If you sleep as a couple then an adjustable bed may be able to help you sleep more soundly when using a split king adjustable base because by using two separate twin XL mattresses, cross-mattress and vertical motion transfer are less likely to be felt on either half of the mattress.

The split king option also allows you to adjust the contours of each mattress separately so that you’re both able to choose your preferred sleeping position which can be useful if one of you likes to incline whilst the other prefers the flat position or a different setting.

If you both have similar sleeping styles then you may find that you’re both happy on the same adjustable frame – with king and queen frames typically being cheaper than the split king option with many retailers.

5 Adjustable Bed Drawbacks

Before going ahead with your adjustable bed purchase, it’s worth noting the potential drawbacks that you may encounter:

1: Compatibility Issues

The biggest issue that you’re likely to face when buying an adjustable bed and mattress separately is that of compatibility.

You need to make sure that the mattress is compatible with the specific adjustable frame that you’re going to use by reading the product specs on the mattress sales page and looking at the mattress warranty to see if the use of an adjustable frame will void the warranty and/or the sleep trial if one is available.

And even if the sizes match up, you may discover that the bed slides around or doesn’t fold up correctly when paired with a different type of frame.

To avoid such issues, I recommend buying the adjustable frame with a compatible mattress from the same company.

2: Expensive

Adjustable bed frames can be pretty expensive – typically costing between $1,000 and $3,500.

You can lower the cost by shopping for your adjustable frame online, taking advantage of discounts, and using point of sale financing options like Klarna that offer 0% APR financing so that you can spread the cost over several months without paying extra.

If the price is an issue for you, then I recommend going for the Idle Adjustable Base (click here to learn more and see entry #2) because the basic model is available for less than $450 in a twin.

3: Difficult to Set Up

Depending on the brand and the model, you may find it difficult to set up your new adjustable bed – especially if you have to carry the packaging upstairs due to the extra weight.

However, many bed companies now prepackage many of the parts so that you can assemble the bed by yourself with relative ease.

However, if you’d like to outsource the entire moving and assembly process then you should look for a bed company that offers white glove delivery service.

4: Power Cuts

It’s entirely possible that if there’s a power cut – your bed may be stuck in the inclined position until the power comes back on.

To avoid this major inconvenience, look for an adjustable bed that comes with a power back up or allows you to manually flatten out the bed using a hand tool like a hex wrench.

5: Return Policy Conflicts

When buying your adjustable bed and mattress, you need to check the small print to see if the sleep trials/return policies are different for the frame and the mattress (even if you order from the same company).

For example, you may find that the mattress comes with a lifetime warranty and a very generous sleep trial lasting more than 100 nights, but the adjustable frame may have a shorter warranty and sleep trial.

Adjustable Bed vs Regular Bed

There are many different types of ‘regular’ beds such as platform, box spring, and slatted frames that all differ from adjustable bed frames because the angle of the sleep surface cannot be adjusted.

So should you get an adjustable bed or a regular bed?

You might prefer to go for a regular bed if you want to spend less, reduce assembly difficulty, and decrease compatibility issues; whilst an adjustable bed could be the best choice if you want a customizable sleeping surface to give you personalized comfort and combat certain conditions.

More details below:

Reasons to Choose a Regular Bed

When compared to an adjustable bed, you might want to consider going for a regular fixed bed frame because a regular bed is:

  • Cheaper.
  • Easier to assemble.
  • Doesn’t require a power source.
  • More likely to be compatible with your current mattress.

Reasons to Choose an Adjustable Bed

When compared to a regular bed, you might want to consider going for an adjustable bed because a variable frame:

  • Allows for a custom sleeping angle.
  • May help to reduce the pain associated with musculoskeletal issues, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Could help to alleviate the discomfort of acid reflux and GERD.
  • May help to reduce swelling in your legs.
  • Could be better for seniors, pregnant women, and active people.
  • May help to reduce or stop snoring and combat sleep apnea.
  • Can make it more comfortable to sit up in bed and watch TV or read.
  • Could help to improve circulation via the massage feature.
  • May help to reduce cross-mattress movements in the split king size so that couples can sleep undisturbed whilst also adjusting each half of the mattress to their preferred sleeping angle.

Conclusion: There Are Definite Benefits

Many of the potential drawbacks to buying an adjustable bed can be mitigated by taking the time to read the small print to check for compatibility conflicts and to use white glove delivery if you’re likely going to have issues with the assembly.

Beyond this, the extra cost might be justified if you have mobility issues, sleep as a couple, have certain conditions like acid reflux, GERD, snore, or simply want to be able to sit up in bed more comfortably.

I recommend buying the frame and the mattress at the same time from the same company to avoid compatibility issues.

Click the button below to see the best adjustable beds for seniors, athletes, sleeping cool, and save $100s in discounts when you buy through the button or links on that page.


Sources and References

[1] NCBI – Whole-Body Vibration and Blood Flow and Muscle Oxygenation: A Meta-Analysis. Accessed 23/9/20.

[2] FireFly™ – The Science Behind OnPulse™ Technology. Accessed 23/9/20.

[3] Wikipedia – Trendelenburg Position. Accessed 23/9/20.

Image Credits and Licencing

Main image: ‘Bedroom Interior Design’ by cr8tivguy (Getty Images) used under the Canva One Design Use License Agreement.

Medical Disclaimer

No part of this article or the content on this website is designed to substitute for medical advice – always consult with a qualified medical professional before buying a bed or sleep product for your specific health needs.

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