Adjustable beds offer people tremendous flexibility when it comes to their bedding. These mattress systems have traditionally been part of a fairly narrow market with major retailers displaying only a handful of models (if that) on their showroom floors, yet consumers love them and are demanding greater options in the segment, particularly as bedding evolves. There are many reasons for the lack of representation in this space from bed makers, as well as the growing demand from consumers.
Spring versus Memory Foam – the Bed Makers’ Dilemma
From the bed makers point of view, traditional spring mattresses are something of a delicate product. With warranties that suggest less than a 10-year life cycle, these products are manufactured primarily for up-and-down compressions and decompression, not horizontal motion and most often not multiple-angle manipulation. Once a traditional spring mattress is installed on an adjustable base, the springs are modulated in ways that can severely and negatively impact mattress life and, most importantly to the owner, mattress comfort. However, higher end bases like the Leggett & Platt and Simons Nu-Flex adjustable bases provide greater protection against damage, but again, the majority of mattresses on the market were not manufactured for adjustability.
To accommodate adjustable bases, bed manufacturers will focus on their higher-end and, consequently, higher-cost product lines, which is where traditional adjustable-bed shoppers tend to purchase (see below for demographics). When you factor in a base costs starting at $1,000 (for the most part) and a $1,500 mattress price for a higher-end mid-market mattress that can withstand the modulation of the base, the costs for a new bed set becomes somewhat restrictive for many shoppers (however, adjustable bases do not need to be replaced as often as a box spring, so replacement cost can theoretically be cheaper over a 15 to 20 year cycle). Still, higher-priced mattresses do not guaranteed longevity.
The ideal mattress type for an adjustable base remains the spring mattress as this has been proven to be among the most comfortable and longer-lasting material. That being said, memory foam allows for greater flexibility on an adjustable base. With that in mind, virtually all memory foam mattresses are marketed as ideal candidates for an adjustable base. There are several reasons for this. The most obvious is that memory foam is memory foam and it is not manufactured strictly for vertical compression and decompression. The memory foam itself is not restricted to a specific modulation, allowing for a multitude of uses, including adjustability. Another factor is that memory foam mattresses have a substantially lower lifecycle (in terms of optimal comfort), so buyer expectations are justifiably set lower.
Demographics – Increasing Demand
From the consumer’s point of view, adjustable mattresses are in greater demand as a result of injuries (back, joint and other) as well as an aging population. With the likelihood of personal injury rising, adjustable beds make for a convenient entry and exit from bed. It also allows for greater flexibility while in bed (sleeping or otherwise confined to bed for whatever reason). As such, a focus adjustable beds allows bed makers to capitalize on this growing market segment, but it also means that the consumer can expect better base and mattress products. Just as gel beds were the latest innovation in bedding for 2013, adjustable bed systems should see innovations in the years (and decades) to come.
Stay tuned for our Adjustable Bed Buying Guide to be posted within the next month.
Adjustable Beds – Good or Bad?
Evidently, there are legitimate reasons that make adjustable bedding a necessity for some shoppers. This is a no-contest area for those who have no other choice. However, for those with an option, purchasing an adjustable mattress is purely a matter of choice, based on primarily on comfort. Many of today’s more advanced adjustable bases allow for great flexibility and features. Some of those features include:
- Vibration control
- Split adjustability (left side vs right side)
- Wave motion
- Multiple adjustments
- Remote control operation
Our experience is that adjustable bases have made tremendous strides over the past five years, yet these devices will only continue to improve in the years to come. Buying a base for $1,000 (most likely a lot more) and expecting it to last a lifetime is unrealistic as a result of the improvements that we can expect to see in the coming years. However, opting for a lower-cost base simply because a better alternative is around the corner is short-minded as well. Deciding whether an adjustable bed system is right for you is really up to you and you alone.
Adjustable Bed Reviews
- Dynasty Mattress S-Cape (from $2,599 – Split King memory foam)