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How Do Adjustable Beds Work

Maybe you’ve had trouble sleeping. Maybe you wake up sore. Maybe you have to spend a lot of time in bed. Maybe you’re recovering from an injury. If any of these sound like you, then an adjustable bed might just be what you’re looking for.


When a lot of people imagine adjustable beds they think of the very basic up and down motion of a hospital bed, and anyone who’s spent time in one of those knows they’re not great. But adjustable beds are so much better--the technology in adjustable beds is moving rapidly and new innovations are coming out all the time. There has never been a better time to buy an adjustable bed than right now.


But how do adjustable beds work? Are adjustable beds worth it?


Let’s Talk About Adjustable Bases


The adjustable bed is nothing without a base. It is the part of the bed that controls the position you sleep in. Some bases have more joints than others--joints are places where the bed moves, and generally, the more joints, the more sophisticated the adjustable bed base. If you’re having trouble picturing these joints, think of that hospital bed: it has one joint--the one that bends you at the waist for sitting up. More sophisticated bases have joints that lift to elevate the knees. Some beds have joints that give you support to the neck and head.


And depending on the bed, each side of the bed might have it’s own free-moving joints. This way, if you’re in a king or a queen bed, your partner can adjust their side of the bed to be comfortable in their own way--you don’t need to negotiate to get the perfect fit.


But there’s so much more to an adjustable base than just the joints. Not only does it lift your head, torso, and knees, but some beds are designed as “wall huggers” which means that when you raise up, the bed scoots backwards so it’s always hugging the backboard, giving your bed more of a homey feel and less of the hospital look. There are also some bases that are designed to be as quiet as possible, so that if you need to shift during the night to get a better position, the noise of your side of the bed won’t wake your partner. For more information see us on Tuck!


And did we mention that you can get a massage? Some of the best adjustable beds have massaging movements that can isolate individual areas of your body--massaging your back or your neck or your legs, or all at once.


And adjustable beds are diving headfirst into the digital age. When you want to adjust your position, or turn on the massage, or turn on music (some beds have built-in speakers!) you can do it all from an app on your phone, Apple or Android. And want to charge your phone? Adjustable bases have USB ports for as many as up to eight devices.


And if you get up in the middle of the night and have trouble seeing in the dark, some adjustable beds have underside lights to make the floor around the bed glow so you’ll never trip. 

What About Adjustable Bed Mattresses?


Now you may be getting concerned, because mattresses that you’re used to simply don’t bend that much. They’re too stiff, and what about the box spring?


First of all, adjustable beds have mattresses that are specially built to accommodate all the movement of the base. They adjust to every contour of every joint, and they massage along with the base.


Second, just because you have an adjustable bed doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the size of your bed. You can get a queen, king--even a California king--and more. And these mattresses are split down the middle, two mattresses in one, so that you when you’re lying in bed with your partner you can each be adjusted however you each prefer, but when the bed is empty and the base is in the down standard position, no one would ever know your bed is adjustable. It looks just like a normal queen or king.


Third, adjustable bed mattresses come in a variety of styles, including memory foam, latex, innerspring, hybrid, and new mattresses such as the gel memory foam, which has all the benefits of a memory foam mattress--it cradles you in a protective cocoon and eases all your pressure points--but with the qualities of gel--it keeps you cool and doesn’t make you sweat all night as you’re cozied up in that little cocoon. 


Fourth: no, you don’t need a box spring. Adjustable bed mattresses are made to not require them.


What Else To Know:


Does an adjustable bed ruin a mattress?


You have to have the right mattress, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a regular mattress on an adjustable bed. If you’re in love with your mattress, but want an adjustable base, then you can make it work. Innerspring mattresses and hybrid mattresses aren’t the best--they have too much internal workings to withstand the movement of an adjustable base. But that’s okay, because those mattresses are going out of style anyway as new mattress technology is being introduced. When you buy an adjustable bed, it will have recommendations for the type of mattress you will want to use. 


What if I’m a side sleeper?


If you like sleeping on your side, then just move the base down into its standard down position and lie on your side. During the rest of the time you’re in your bed--watching TV, reading books, talking with family--you can use the adjustable features to sit up and be comfortable. 


Shop Our Selection of Adjustable Beds

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