The Sleep Number Bed Compared to Other Mattresses

Let’s continue from our previous post on the benefits of healthy sleep with air mattress beds and discuss how the Sleep Number Bed performed in an independent, Chicago-based firm’s study. We’ll start with pressure points as this is the single biggest frustration I’ve had in the past. For me, getting comfortable on most mattresses is a matter of rolling around for the first 30 minutes or so before I finally doze off. According to my wife, I continue shifting around on innerspring mattresses excessively which leads to poor sleep for both of us. I don’t have the same problems on an air mattress bed.
First let’s introduce the study on pressure point comparisons. It was independently conducted. The mattresses compared were similarly priced but different designs. The Sleep Number Bed was compared to a Tempur-Pedic ® “space-foam” mattress and a high-end innerspring mattress. The manufacturer and identity of each mattress was hidden from the subjects. 66 subjects in all participated in the study and were divided about evenly between women and men. Finally, the average pressure exerted by the mattresses on each participant’s body was measured using pressure mapping equipment in both back and side sleep positions.
The results of the pressure point study revealed 94% of the participants had significantly lower average pressure levels when lying on their side. 86% had significantly lower average pressure levels when lying on their backs. It’s important to note that those percentages are the results gathered from the pressure mapping equipment, not just the subjective opinions of the participants.
The pressure map study isn’t the only study to result in favorable marks for the Sleep Number Bed. A study performed at the Stanford University Sleep Research Center resulted in surprising results. This study compared the Sleep Number Bed to a high quality innerspring mattress. Average participants fell asleep in half the time, spent more time in deep (restful) sleep and reported better sleep quality.
Numerically, the Stanford study breaks down like this.
67% experienced less daytime sleepiness
77% discovered increased energy.
87% fell asleep faster and experienced better sleep.
89% reported improved sleep quality.
90% reported reduced aches and pains.
93% experienced back pain relief
While the experiences noted by participants above are subjective (based on a participant’s opinion rather than a measurable metric) they are supported by objective metrics as well such as decreased amount of light sleep states, increased REM sleep and slow wave sleep. The pressure map studies noted earlier also support the subjective comments associated with reduced aches and pains.
Select ComfortTM, the makers of the Sleep Number bed, also offer data from tests performed at the Duke University Medical Center Sleep Disorders Center which focused on both subjective and objective measures of sleep in comparing the Sleep Number bed with the participant’s own beds. Results showed the Sleep Number bed provided a more efficient sleep experience and that participants spent an average of 15 minutes less time in bed each night on. That last part is notable given that, despite needing less sleep, study subjects reported feeling less fatigued and more rested after sleeping.
Finally, a study performed at the University of Memphis focusing on spinal curvature and displacement concluded that the Sleep Number bed “gave the best comfort and spinal alignments to the subjects tested.”
In a mix of studies covering both objective and subjective metrics, test subjects time and again show a preference for the Sleep Number Mattress. With loads on pressure points more forgivingly distributed, independent adjustable firmness and exceptional construction, these air mattress beds shine. But what does all this data really mean to you, the consumer.
Overall, reduction in pressure point discomfort means less tossing, turning and discomfort during sleep. This means you spend more time getting healthy, restful sleep. The importance of this can’t be overstated. Not only does this mean you’ll endure less joint discomfort, aches and pains, but an air mattress bed’s benefit in this regard is that it also facilitates important stages of healthy sleep.
REM sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep occurs an average of 4-5 times per night in increasing duration. While the purpose of REM sleep is not completely understood, it has been established as critically important to our health and may be linked to learning and memory. While we may not fully understand the need for REM sleep, our bodies do. If we do not receive enough of it, we accumulate a sleep-debt which our body will make up for with prolonged periods of REM sleep at the next opportunity.
Slow wave sleep or SWS is the deepest level of sleep. If you’ve ever woken up feeling terribly groggy and have difficulty focusing and thinking, you probably were pulled out of slow wave sleep. As with REM, those deprived of SWS will experience a sharp increase in duration of this sleep period at the next available opportunity. This supports the thinking that the body knows what it needs and that slow wave sleep is an important part of healthy sleep.
That air mattress beds in general can promote improvements in these areas may often be a subjective claim. Studies performed on Select Comfort’s Sleep Number beds, though, lend credibility to the assumption that, at least in this case, an air mattress bed can truly make a difference in the health and life of its users.

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