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What to Look for in an Adjustable Bed: Complete Buying Guide for Seniors

By jwilder

Did you know that up to 40% of adults in the US report having insomnia in any given year?

That’s a pretty serious problem - getting a good night of sleep is paramount to physical, immune, and mental health, especially for seniors! This is why many seniors who have trouble sleeping on a traditional mattress and box springs are opting to get an adjustable bed.

If you think that getting an adjustable bed might be a good idea for you, you’re in the right place! By the time you finish reading this complete guide, you’ll know how adjustable beds work, the health benefits they can have for seniors, and what to look for in an adjustable bed.

Let’s get started!

What is an Adjustable Bed?

Adjustable beds are used by many people who find the traditional mattress and box springs to be uncomfortable or simply fail to meet their needs. Laying flat on a mattress isn’t for everyone; spine and neck injuries, joint issues, and leg problems often mean that laying flat is a bad idea.

Adjustable beds are made up of a flexible mattress (usually memory foam) laid over an adjustable base that uses motors and pistons to raise or lower different sections of the bed. For example, a person could lift the portion of the bed where their head lays so that they can read or watch TV in bed comfortably.

These beds are favored by people who want one of two things: luxury sleep, or healthy sleep for medical conditions. Adjustable beds perform quite well for both purposes, and consumers are starting to take notice. From 2011 to 2015, sales of adjustable beds increased by 200%! That’s a testament to their ability to improve your sleep and therefore your quality of life!

How do Adjustable Beds Work?

The mattress on an adjustable bed is nothing special; all the magic happens in the base. The base of your adjustable bed will be made up of moving sections called joints- the more joints, the more adjustable features in the bed.

Adjustable bed joints are located in places that reflect the major joints and sections of your body: head, neck, back, and knees. Most of the joints will move up and down; there isn’t much use for a tilting bed that makes you feel like you’re about to roll off the edge.

The joints are powered by near-silent motors that raise and lower each joint individually. The base will come with a remote control that you can use to fine-tune your sleeping position and even create preset sleeping and reclining positions (a bit like your cell phone’s speed dial).

The mattress is held in place by a few small brackets that prevent it from slipping or sliding when the bed is adjusted. As mentioned, most mattresses for adjustable beds are made from memory foam. Memory foam bends much easier than a traditional spring-core mattress, making it the ideal pairing for the adjustable frame. Latex mattresses can work, too, but they’re less common (and usually less comfortable) than memory foam.

What are the Benefits of Adjustable Beds?

The health benefits of using an adjustable bed are as easy to quantify as the health benefits of getting a better night's sleep. If you find that you consistently wake up sore, groggy, and more tired than you were at bedtime, there are many things you can do to help. One of those, perhaps one of the most effective, is to get a new bed!

When you get a full, restful night of sleep, the benefits are astounding. Here are some of the benefits of getting better sleep:

Better Immune System

The benefits of having a better immune system don’t need to be explained! Studies show that getting more sleep, and deeper sleep, help your body’s immune system work hard without being exhausted. People who get poor sleep are much more vulnerable to sicknesses!

Heart Health

Blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of heart health, and getting good sleep is proven to help lower blood pressure. If you’re having trouble sleeping and experiencing higher blood pressure, chances are they are linked in some way!


Lack of sleep is intrinsically linked to having a grumpy and foul mood. Your brain simply hasn’t gotten what it needs, and you feel irritable and stressed as a result. Investing in your sleep can make each and every day feel more balanced and pleasing because your brain will be getting the rest it needs!

Sleep and Falls

Lack of good sleep has been linked to an increased risk for falls in older adults. This is due to the brain and body’s lack of proper rest; your body cannot react fast enough to avoid a fall because it is lacking proper energy and alertness!

Adjustable Bed-Specific Benefits

Okay, so it’s been well-established that getting better sleep improves your quality of life. So, how does an adjustable bed give you better sleep? After all, if an adjustable bed doesn’t give you better sleep, it can’t improve your quality of life! Here are some of the ways using an adjustable bed can help you sleep better (leading to a better day-to-day life)!

Sleep Apnea

Best Pillow for Sleep Apnea

This sleep condition affects an estimated 22 million adults in the United States alone. It leaves those who suffer from it feeling constantly tired, like no amount of sleep is sufficient. This is because they are unable to reach the deeper stages of sleep where true rest occurs. Studies have shown that elevating the head (as you would with an adjustable bed) can significantly ease the effects of sleep apnea and let people sleep soundly and deeply through the night!


Snoring might sound like an innocuous thing- how could such a simple thing as snoring disrupt your sleep? Ask the partner or spouse of a loud snorer and they’ll tell you- it is a major sleep disruptor! Snoring is a sign that the snorer is sleeping poorly too- it’s a signal that your airways aren’t fully open while you sleep. Snoring can be abated by simply elevating the head a few degrees with an adjustable bed frame and mattress!

Acid Reflux

Severe acid reflux and heartburn are the sources of sleepless nights for many adults and seniors. Studies have shown that sleeping with your head and upper torso slightly elevated can keep acid in your gut, where it is supposed to be. In fact, 67% of participants in one study reported that acid cleared easier when they elevated their heads!

General Comfort

This is hard to measure scientifically but experientially true for many people. The more comfortable you feel, the better you can sleep through the night. If lying flat on a mattress isn’t the most comfortable position for your body, it’s doubtful that you’re getting the best sleep possible. Switching to an adjustable bed might be the change you need to wake up feeling refreshed each morning!

Zero-Gravity Sleeping

The “zero-gravity” position balances your bodyweight in such a way that all the pressure on your spine and legs is shifted to a more comfortable place. This position is quite popular with home massage chairs, but can also help you sleep. Your body will feel more like it is floating, letting your muscles, joints, and bones repair themselves without being contorted by the way you sleep.

Non-Sleep-Related Benefits of Adjustable Beds

Sure, the biggest benefits of having an adjustable bed are going to have everything to do with sleep. But, being able to adjust your bed is good for more than just sleep and more than just health! Here are some minor benefits of adjustable beds that you may find valuable:

  • Relaxation: Simply put, being able to recline in your bed and watch TV, read a book, or work on your laptop is a luxury that can be hard to pass up. It’s like having an incredibly comfortable pull-out couch!
  • Recovery: If you’ve had a recent fall, accident, or surgery, you likely need to be elevating part of your body. There’s no better way to do that than on an adjustable bed. People who’ve had to elevate one leg while sleeping by stacking pillows under a cast know the struggle of flat traditional beds. If you need or are expecting to need, to elevate part of your body to recover or rehabilitate, an adjustable bed can be a major benefit to you!
  • Muscle/Joint Health: Even when you’re awake, you can use your adjustable bed to your advantage. Elevate your legs to give your knees and ankles a break and stimulate blood flow. You can also take some pressure off your spine and unwind from long days by relaxing in the zero-gravity position.
  • Massage Options: Some higher-end beds have massage capabilities, allowing you to double-down on your health! Care for your muscles, joints, and overall wellbeing like you never could before with a bed that works hard for you.

How Much are Adjustable Beds?

Like with any bed, you can find an adjustable bed for rock-bottom prices that will hurt more than it helps. You can also spend far too much on a bed that performs no better than its moderately-priced competitors. We’d caution against spending too much or too little on your adjustable bed; finding something you can afford in the mid-range price tier is a great idea.

Most quality adjustable beds will cost between $900 and $3,500; this may or may not include the price of the mattress. On the high end, you could pay up to $7,000 to get a complete adjustable bed and mattress combo! The price you pay for an adjustable bed depends on several things:

  • Mattress/Base Size: As always, a king bed will be more expensive than a full. You can get an adjustable bed in any size, but Queen is the most popular.
  • Brand Name: Some brands, such as Sealy, are privileged to charge extra just because of the trust associated with their name. Buying from a big brand means you might pay a bit more than you should but can have peace of mind with their products.
  • Mattress Included/Sold Separately: The base of an adjustable bed, sold on its own, can be quite affordable; the same can be said for a mattress sold without the base. They feel less affordable, though, when you realize you need to spend just as much to complete the other half of the bed!

Getting an adjustable bed is a large investment, no doubt about it. However, when you consider the value of a great night’s sleep, spread out over the lifetime of the bed, the price is very easy to swallow! Additionally, many companies offer financing that can spread out the purchase over a few years.

What are the Best Brands of Adjustable Beds?

This is one brand that has earned its reputation. For the last few decades, Sealy has been one of the kings of the sleep industry, and for good reason. They were the ones that popularized memory foam mattress technology, and have been driving innovation in the retail space for years. The downside is that their mattresses and adjustable beds are quite expensive- to get a nice queen mattress and adjustable base, you’ll be spending more than $4,000!

This brand may not have the same recognition as Sealy, but their products go toe-to-toe with the best in every metric from comfort to durability. On top of that, they provide some of the most affordable luxury beds on the market!

iDealBed is another wonderful and affordable choice for seniors who want their adjustable bed to show up right at their door. They’re known for delivering beds that have a luxury feel and reasonable price. Plus, many of their adjustable bases have massage options to keep you feeling great all day!

LUCID is an online brand that has mastered the ability to produce low-priced adjustable beds that perform incredibly well. They’ve built a reputation for selling adjustable beds that are easy to assemble, easy to use, and don’t require a loan to pay for!

Where to Buy Adjustable Beds (Online and Retail Stores)?

Buying an adjustable bed isn’t as simple as ordering a new TV remote or getting some last-minute groceries, but it’s not as complex as it used to be. Today, you can choose between visiting a physical showroom in your city or purchasing online through a trusted marketplace.

Visiting a showroom to buy a mattress most often means you’ll be spending a bit more; after all, the company has to pay for space and pay their salespeople’s commissions. That small additional fee, though, is worth it for people who want to do business in person. It’s easier to ask questions, test out products, and get your bed set up in your home when you shop in-person.

Buying online has its unique advantages, too. While you might not get the same sort of customer service before you buy, it is much more convenient to shop from home. No pushy salesperson trying to add features you don’t need, and no pressure to buy on the spot. You can take your time, compare dozens of choices, and make your decision comfortably!

Here are four of the best places to buy an adjustable bed, either in-person at a retail store or over the internet:

1. Sealy Showrooms

Sealy mattresses and bed frames are among the best of the best, and they have over 150 stores across the United States. You can walk in or make an appointment to see their selection, and they have a very helpful staff to answer any of your questions! More importantly, their salespeople aren’t paid on a high-pressure commission structure, so they have more incentive to help rather than to simply sell!

With over 2,600 stores in the United States, Mattress Firm is one of the largest retail chains in the world. They’re constantly running different sales, and have a large selection of mattresses and adjustable bed frames from a variety of brands, including Sealy and Serta! If you’re looking for the classic bed-buying experience, this is it!

Amazon started out selling books and other small items, but over the last two decades has expanded into every product category imaginable. They have a wide range of adjustable beds, available from some of the biggest and most affordable brands in the industry! One big plus of shopping with Amazon is their extensive customer review sections that let you weigh unbiased opinions of the bed you’re considering.

Similar to Amazon, Wayfair has a massive selection of adjustable beds from many different brands. Their online marketplace makes it easy to suss out the best choice for your needs; on top of that, they have better financing options for people who cannot pay full price for their bed right away!

What Type of Mattress is Best for an Adjustable Bed?

Far and away, the best mattress for your adjustable bed will be one made of memory foam.

Memory foam has the ideal combination of support for your body and flexibility for adjusting and bending. On top of that, memory foam is pretty luxurious in its own right!

Memory foam adjusts to the natural contours of your body and makes some users feel as though they’re floating rather than laying on top of stiff foam. A google memory foam mattress can last up to a decade with proper care, too, making them a great investment in personal health and wellness!.

What to Look for in an Adjustable Bed - Tips to Find the Best Bed for Your Needs

Mattress Size

More than likely, you already know the mattress size that is right for you. However, since you’ll be upgrading to both a new base and mattress, this is the perfect time to consider whether you need more- or less- space! If you’ve slept on a queen mattress your whole life, you may want to upgrade to a king to take advantage of the comfort and space they provide. On the other side of things, if you no longer need that much space, or might be moving to assisted living in the next few years, consider if a full or twin-size bed is more appropriate for you.

Split or no Split?

Many adjustable bed bases and mattresses have an optional “split” feature that lets each side of the head area adjust separately from the other. This means that your spouse could elevate while you lay flat, or vice versa. This feature is very valuable to couples who have separate sleeping preferences but is an unnecessary expense for people who do not.

Massage/Other Bonus Features

Similar to split mattresses, massage features are an added luxury that not everyone wants to pay for. Before purchasing your bed, take a look at the luxury features and ask yourself if you truly want them or if you’d be better off saving some money with a more basic choice! Some of these features include massage, automated cooling, firmness adjustment (a la Sleep Number- brand beds), speakers, and USB outlets.

Warranties and Service

This is one area where bed manufacturers vary widely. If you’re concerned about whether or not a bed will last or deliver on its promises, check carefully for their warranty policies and exclusions. The last thing you want is to be trapped with an adjustable bed that is broken and deal with a warranty that does little to help!


Getting an adjustable bed is an ideal upgrade for many seniors. They can improve sleep quality, give you a stronger immune system, and help with myriad aches and pains. Before you purchase an adjustable bed, make sure you know all about the brand, its reputation, and the features that you need vs the ones that you don’t! Getting a new bed should be looked at as an investment in your health and wellbeing- so do the due diligence to make it an investment you’ll never regret!

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