Gizmo Geek: A bed fit for rip van winkle

A bed that’s smart enough to put you to sleep, take care of your aches and pains, and stop your partner from snoring—sign us up for one, please. Sleep Number, an American company that has been in the business of beds and mattresses for over three decades, are well known for their air-adjustable mattresses. Founder Bob Walker might be controversial (sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2014 for financial irregularities related to another of his ventures), but the only thing criminal about the Sleep Number 360 smart beds are how clever they are.

The term ‘sleep number’ itself refers to a bed setting corresponding to the user’s comfort level. Ranging from 1 to 100, a higher number means a firmer sleep surface, while a lower number means a softer one. The numbers correspond to how much air is present in the mattress’s sleep chamber and users can tweak the setting to their own comfort levels. A handy remote control is available for this and it’s a matter of trial and error, setting and resetting to find one’s optimal sleep number. Each side of the mattress can have its own setting too, so no compromise on individual needs for couples.

Identifying your personal comfort zone, though, is only the beginning. There are settings to help relieve pain in the lower or upper back, neck and shoulders, with recommendations for different sleeping positions. The mattresses are also responsive to position, adjusting as one moves about in one’s sleep to provide constant, appropriate support. The mattress pairs with a smartphone program called Sleep IQ that reads the sensors in the mattress to analyse sleep quality and get the most out of a Sleep Number bed; it also integrates with other fitness apps like Fitbit, Microsoft Health and iOS’s Health. The construction of the mattresses varies from model to model, with layers of foam or mattress tops over the air chambers.

Sleep Number mattresses work best with the adjustable FlexFit bases that add other functions—like the ‘snore detector’ that raises the head of the sleeper; various cominations of positions for the head and legs, including for reading, reclining or watchint TV; a zero-gravity setting to feel almost weightless; slow foot warming to help induce sleep; and under-bed lighting. There’s a 25-year limited warranty and a 100-night trial for the mattress (not on the base, though). But don’t break open the piggy bank just yet—Sleep Number retails exclusively in the US, both online or through their stores.

The smart mattresses come in standard sizes in three series: the entry-level Custom, the mid-range Performance, and the top-drawer Innovation. Prices range, for the mattress alone, from $999 to $4,999 for a queen-size. The queen-size flexible base is an additional $1,999 to $2,999. If one were to put together the very top-end mattress with the top-end flexible base, it would put one back by $8,000 for a queen-size and $10,000 for a king-size bed. That’s a lot of love for sleep.

Payal Dhar