Adjustable Beds — Do They Make Sense for You?

Adjustable beds are essential for people with certain orthopedic, circulatory, pulmonary, spinal or other medical problems. But they are also quite helpful to people with milder conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, allergies, and back pain. Being able to elevate or lower areas of the bed with a handheld remote control can mean the difference between a night of peaceful, comfortable sleep and painful restlessness.

Adjustable beds look like any other bed and come in the same range of sizes: twin, full, queen and king. That makes them far removed from the clinical look of hospital beds, even though they have many of the same features.

Many people are discovering how much an adjustable bed can help them get a better night’s sleep. Just about anyone can benefit, as they can be extremely comfortable, but the price tag usually prevents the average person with everyday back pain issues or other comfort issues from switching over. It may be time to question that decision however.

Many people who would benefit hesitate to make the switch, especially if they are still functional in their daily life. They may also unconsciously associate having an adjustable bed to being old and infirm. They feel they are too young and healthy to give in to that temptation, choosing discomfort over damaging their self-image!

This is shortsighted, of course. Why wait until you feel worse to give yourself much needed relief? During sleep your body finally has a chance to relax, to heal, to recover from the day’s stresses and tension. Whatever is obstructing a good night’s sleep, whether it is muscular pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia asthma, allergies, or poor circulation, it makes sense to eliminate as many obstacles as you can to get the good sleep you deserve.

Many people watch TV and work on computers in their bedroom and in bed (not recommended if you have insomnia). An adjustable bed puts you in the right position and eliminates pressure points and awkward postures that can lead to problems down the road. If you enjoy hanging out in your bedroom either by yourself or with family and pets, to work, play games or otherwise entertain yourselves… having the right bed will make the experience much more congenial to your overall health and happiness.

What features should you look for?

The best adjustable bed model will…

  • Allow you to raise and lower your head and legs to multiple different positions, so you can find your best comfort zone.
  • Have programmable positioning. This allows you to set the position you find most comfortable into your remote so you can quickly get back to it at any time.
  • Be available in all popular sizes and often variable lengths. This lets you keep your bedroom in the same configuration it is in right now. In most cases, an adjustable bed will not take up any more room than a conventional bed. Some will fit with your existing headboard.
  • Allow the mattress to move backwards or forwards as you adjust height positions and angles. That way, the mattress head will stay at the same distance from the wall behind it, you still have access to your bedside table, and the space your bed takes up remains the same all the time.
  • Provide a user-friendly remote control, either wireless or wired. Wireless will cost you a bit more, but is worth it if you don’t want to wrangle with a cord.
  • Have battery back-up that allows the bed to flatten out automatically when there is a power outage. If necessary you can install your own battery backup for use during such an outage.
  • Provide at least 45 degrees of head elevation and 25 degrees of foot elevation. This is considered basic. You can go up to 55 degrees and 45 degrees respectively for a bit more money.
  • Give you a quiet, fan-cooled, vented, electric motor that you can depend on for reliable service over many years. For most home use, the DC motor is appropriate, since it is quiet. Very heavy people will need the AC motor.
  • Offer dual control if you are sharing a bed with a partner.

From these standard features, you can add, as you desire…

  • Full body wave-type massage that you can set for specific time periods. Some even feature “massage alarms” that will begin at a set time to gently wake you up.
  • Heating feature to add therapeutic warmth to the bed along with massage for the ultimate “ahhh” experience.
  • A preset “zero gravity” setting that places your body in the position that is supposed to give special benefits. The name “zero gravity” is borrowed from the position astronauts get into prevent bodily stresses during takeoff, and is supposed to relieve stress on the spine to help with back pain.
  • A “snoring” feature that allows you to adjust your or your partner’s side of the bed to relieve the nasal/pharyngeal tissue collapse that causes snoring (at least it might help).

So what’s it going to cost?

More than a regular bed but perhaps not as much as you think, especially if you compare to other customizable mattresses. You can expect to pay at least $1200 for a single bed with basic features, more as you add size and options. You can get a good adjustable full-sized or queen-sized bed for $2000 to $2500.

Remember to inquire if mattress is included. You may be able to use your old mattress is if is made of latex, memory or polyurethane foam. Some beds will accommodate certain kinds of innerspring mattresses, but it is not likely your existing innerspring will fit. It is best to either get a foam mattress or order an innerspring from the adjustable bed company so you know it will fit.

Where can you get an adjustable bed?

Online stores abound but you should first try one out before you buy. Local stores are the place to do that and may offer you incentives to buy there rather than losing you to the internet.

As with all major purchases, always price compare before you shop. Make a list of features you must have and those that you would like but can do without. Trim as necessary for cost savings. Then use your list as negotiation tool. If the price doesn’t come down, see if you can upgrade the features instead.

Best Brands

Leggett and Platt and Craftmatic are two well-known brand names in adjustable beds, as well as the big-name mattress companies–Simmons, Sealy, Tempur-Pedic and so on.

How to take care of your bed

Most adjustable beds are maintenance free as far as lubrication and oiling goes, which makes sense. You will want to treat it well, keep it clean (easier to do if you don’t eat in bed).

Make sure you understand the weight limit of your particular model, and if you are heavier than that, you’ll need to upgrade to a bariatric bed with a higher-performance motor.

Of course, don’t let kids or grandkids play with the controls or jump up and down on the mattress.

Get acquainted with the warranty: Most of these beds come with a 1 year unlimited warranty and then a 2-year or 5-year limited warranty that covers less, and then a lifetime limited warranty that does not cover anything electronic or electrical, but only the mechanical parts.

Can you get reimbursement from Medicare or other insurance for certain beds if you have a prescription from your doctor? You might, but restrictions definitely apply. You will not be able to purchase or rent through the internet, and most likely you will need to submit the claim through the dealer. Do not buy an adjustable bed that looks like a regular bed and presume it will be covered, because very likely it will not. Get very clear on the procedure of reimbursement before you go looking to avoid problems.

An adjustable bed may be your ticket to blissful, peaceful, pain-free sleep. Certainly it is worth investigating because a good night’s sleep is priceless.

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