Here's how I finally landed on my Sleep Number setting
After a monthlong process, I can count on a good night's rest.
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After struggling with lack of sleep due to back pain, I made the decision to get a new mattress. It took a few weeks of shopping around to ultimately settle on one from Sleep Number, a well-known company that claims its mattresses can be individualized to fit unique sleep preferences and needs.
Any mattress is an investment, but Sleep Number products are particularly expensive. The brand has one mattress (the Sleep Number 360 c2 smart bed) that starts at $699 for a twin, but most of its offerings start in the quadruple digits. Given the steep price, I took advantage of a virtual consultation with one of Sleep Number’s experts to determine which bed would be best for my lifestyle and sleep issues. Ultimately, the features and technology of the i8 smart bed with the FlexFit 3 base ended up being the right combination for me.
The setup and delivery were a breeze, so it was simply a matter of finding my ideal Sleep Number—a numeric value that represents the firmness or softness of the bed—after it arrived in my home. The bed I purchased comes with a wide range of features, including foot heaters, an adjustable base, and underbed lighting. But I was most excited about the customizable Sleep Number setting.
What is Sleep Number?
Chances are you’ve stumbled across a TV commercial for Sleep Number. The company was established in 1987 on the premise of carving out a sleep category in the wellness space. Now, it focuses on customizing people’s sleep setups through mattresses and bases. With brick-and-mortar stores across the country, it’s almost as ubiquitous as companies like Mattress Firm.
Mattresses have always been Sleep Number’s most popular product. It's known for its eponymous "Sleep Number," which allows users to adjust the firmness or softness of a bed to their own preferences. However, it also carries linens, pillows, headboards, mattress protectors, and a wide range of bases to help make beds more comfortable.
What Is the Sleep Number setting?
The Sleep Number setting determines the way the surface of your bed feels. It's controlled using the Sleep Number app on a mobile phone or with the bed’s remote. Simply tap or selection an option, and the bed will adjust within a matter of minutes.
Generally speaking, the lower the setting, the softer the bed will feel. Conversely, the higher the setting, the firmer the bed will feel. The number manipulates air chambers within the bed, inflating or deflating them to change the surface sensation, according to a customer service rep. The number ranges from five to 100, with five being the softest and 100 being the firmest. I found it comfortable at both extremes, but ultimately it’s about choosing what's best for you and what you find the most comfortable.
All Sleep Number beds come with this technology, and it’s considered one of the company's signature features. Other additions such as foot warmers, underbed lighting, and adjustable sides vary based on the model.
How did I find my Sleep Number setting?
While figuring out which setting was perfect for me, I realized that the lowest setting felt almost like immersing myself into a squishy pillow. On the other hand, the highest setting felt super firm, almost like a hard couch cushion. That’s to say: The mattresses really do provide a broad range of sensations depending on the number you choose.
During my consultation, the Sleep Number advisor recommended using a lower numeric setting to address my lower back pain and a higher setting for middle or upper back pain. There is no one size fits all, so the company suggests testing one setting for three nights. Then, bring it down one to two numbers and repeat the process until you find what's right for you.
I’m a side sleeper, so it was a bit tricky to figure out the right setting. I initially tried something firmer but realized it wasn’t right for my needs, so I lowered it. Eventually, I ended up with a Sleep Number setting of 40. It took me about a month to land on this magic number, mostly because I took my time testing out different levels. If I have back pain in a specific area, I adjust it a bit that night. However, I typically stay at 40 and use my favorite position (which is my head and feet a bit elevated, but not too elevated) to sleep.
What is Sleep Number’s trial and return policy?
While Sleep Number isn’t a strictly online company, its trial and return policies are similar to many other mattress e-tailers. It offers a 100-night trial for mattresses, in keeping with companies like Purple, Leesa, and Tuft & Needle.
Sleep Number states it can take about 30 days for customers’ bodies to adjust to the new mattress—and makes it sound as though most people find their ideal setting within that period. “If, however, after sleeping on your new mattress for a full 30 nights, you are not completely satisfied, contact us before the end of the 100 night In-Home Trial Period to arrange for the return of your Sleep Number bed or layer,” the policy states.
Returns must be received within 30 days of initiating the process, and be in sanitary condition. Unfortunately, Sleep Number won’t cover the cost of return shipping, so you’ll be saddled with a fee ranging from “$149 to $249 plus tax.” This covers the cost of techs packing up the mattress, according to a customer service rep. The mattresses are recycled, though the rep couldn’t clarify exactly how, other than saying they aren’t turned into new mattresses.
Was my Sleep Number mattress worth it?
Thankfully, the bed makes a massive difference in my sleep and back problems. Beforehand, I wasn’t sleeping well, as I had a lot of discomfort. Now, I sleep almost seven hours a night (the only times I sleep less are due to work, not the bed itself) and wake up with much less pain than I used to.
Of course, a mattress won’t improve my injury, but it has reduced the discomfort that I would often experience while sleeping. At the end of the day, the Sleep Number has really made it simple to adjust the bed based on what I’m feeling that day, giving me what used to elude me: A great night’s sleep on a regular basis.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.