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Best Sleep Number Alternatives

Derek Hales


Getting sleep can be hard and picking the best mattress specifically for your body can seem like an impossible task as you ask yourself the question, what’s the best mattress for you?

But when Sleep Number entered the market in 1987, they asked a different question. What’s your number?

Sleep Number calculated a variety of feels, support levels, and pressure relief within a single mattress. And relying on an adjustable remote to let a sleeper simply change the number on a remote and change the feel of their mattresses.

Sleep Number Beds
Sleep Number Beds

But with great customization, comes great cost. This guide is going to look at the best features of a Sleep Number mattress and provide cost-effective alternatives you may want to consider. Let’s dive in.

Sleep Number vs. iSense Premier

The closest and best alternate to the Sleep Number that we have tested to date is the iSense Premier Hybrid. You can see a quick side-by-side in the table below.

Sleep Number Open Cover

Sleep Number

Type: Adjustable
Thickness: 9.5″
Firmness: Variable (3.5 – 9)
Read Review
Overall Score: 8.04
Isense Premier Hybrid Open Cover

iSense Premier

Type: Adjustable
Thickness: 13.5″
Firmness: Variable (4.5 – 7)
Read Review
Overall Score: 9.17

Both mattresses have similar features like remote control, app compatibility, separate side preferences and presets, and a standalone air pump attached with rubber hoses that is the mastermind behind it all.

Sleep Number

Sleep Number Remote
Sleep Number Remote

iSense Premier

Isense Remote Control
Isense Remote Control

But despite these similarities, there are big differences between the way these two mattresses approach support and firmness.

Sleep Number

Sleep Number Air Pump
Sleep Number Air Pump

iSense Premier

Isense Premier Hybrid Air Compressor Close
Isense Premier Hybrid Air Pump

Most Sleep Number mattresses rely on an air-filled bladder to provide a varying degree of firmness. But the problem with air is that it’s not particularly supportive.

Think of a traditional air mattress. You can have more air in it which may cause less sinkage and more pushback, perhaps generating a firmer feel.

When you take air out, there may be deeper sinkage and a softer feel, but is there more support? The answer is no.

Sleep Number Adjustable Rubber Bladder
Sleep Number Adjustable Rubber Bladder

For this reason, I would recommend a Sleep Number only for sleepers who are looking to stay in that medium-firm range (6-7 out of 10). Any softer than that and support begins to drop.

Instead of using an air-filled bladder, the iSense Hybrid Premier has air cylinders that flow between pieces of foam, as shown in the image below.

Isense Vs Sleep Number
Isense (left) VS Sleep Number (right)

When more air is pumped into the system, the foam has a firmer feel. And when air is removed from the system, the foam feels less pressure, generating a softer feel.

The iSense does a more successful job, in my opinion, at creating a range of firmnesses without sacrificing support.

Isense Premier Hybrid Air Cylinders
Isense Premier Hybrid Air Cylinders

Best Sleep Number Bed Alternatives

The best alternatives have some design system that allows the mattress to have adjustable firmness. This could be air chambers with a physical remote, like what Sleep Numer does. It could also be flippable layers or a level of customization that happens before the mattress is even manufactured.

Natural Form Refresh firmness dial
Natural Form Refresh firmness dial

Adjustable Firmness

RankSleep Number AlternativesScoreTypeTop FeaturesCheck PriceRead Review
1iSense9.17AdjustableAdjustable firmness, remote, foam comfort layerCheck PriceRead Review
2Saatva SolaireAdjustableAdjustable firmness, remote, split sidesCheck PriceN/A
3Spindle8.96Latex FoamZipper cover, flippable foamsCheck PriceRead Review
4Natural Form Refresh 8.69Foam + Air PocketsAdjustable firmness dialCheck PriceRead Review
5Eight Sleep Pod 38.66Foam + PodSmart tracking + water cooling systemCheck PriceRead Review
6Sleep EZ8.73Latex FoamZipper cover, flippable foamsCheck PriceRead Review
7Habitat Furnituing Ascend Air8.40Foam + Air ChamberAdjustable firmnessCheck PriceRead Review

Alternative Adjustable Bases

If having an adjustable base is an important part of your mattress experience, be sure to check out this list of recommended adjustable bases as well as some of their best features.

Sleep Number AlternativesCheck PriceBest For
iSense Essential Adjustable BaseCheck PriceWireless Remote, Presets, Under-Bed Lights
iSense Elite Adjustable BaseCheck PriceMassage, USB Charging + App
Saatva Adjustable BaseCheck PriceFull Body Massage
Saatva Adjustable Base PlusCheck PriceSlim Profile
Ghostbed Adjustable BaseCheck PriceUSB Charging + Under-Bed Lights
Leesa Adjustable BaseCheck PriceUSB Charging + Under-Bed Lights
Winkbeds Adjustable Base 2.0Check Price10-Minute Setup
Nectar Adjustable BaseCheck PriceBudget, 50 Night Trial

Sleep Number Collections

The current lineup of Sleep Number Smart Beds, breaks down into five different Series types—Classic, Performance, Innovation, Memory Foam, and Cooling.

Sleep Number MattressPriceCollection
c4 $1,699Classic
m7$3,399Memory Foam

Here is a breakdown of exactly what you’re getting with each of the different collections.

  • Classic Series: The Sleep Number Classic Series offers dual adjustable firmness (for each side), a responsive air layer, and an app that shows you how well you slept (Sleep IQ technology). This series includes the most budget-friendly, base-level Sleep Number mattresses. Comfort layer thickness of these mattresses ranges from 2-4″ thick.
  • Performance Series: The Performance series has all of the same features as the Classic series, but offers better pressure-relieving performance, using thicker comfort layers in most cases. The comfort layer thickness of these mattresses ranges from 4-5″ thick.
  • Innovation Series: The Innovation series contained some of the most expensive mattresses that Sleep Number offers. This collection offers all of the same features as the collections above, but also has a temperature-balancing cover for better cooling performance. The comfort layer thickness of these mattresses ranges from 6-7″ thick.
  • Memory Foam Series: The Memory Foam series only contains one mattress, but the collection is designed to feature cooling memory foam, while keeping all of the features also listed in the above collections.
  • Cooling Series: The Cooling series offers temperature control on both sides of the mattress with heating and cooling capability. This is the only Sleep Number collection that can offer this level of temperature adjustability. In addition to climate, the Cooling series offers the same features as all other series types listed above, excluding the use of memory foam.

Best Features of Sleep Number Beds

Okay, so for starters let’s talk about the best features of Sleep Number mattresses. And can these features be recreated in a budget mattress?

Sleep Number mattresses are known for:

  • Adjustable firmness
  • Adjustable air chambers
  • Coordinating sleep app
  • Adjustable base (not included with mattress)

Foot warming, snore control, and lifestyle recommendations are among some of the other features of top-tier Sleep Number mattresses. All things considered, it makes a great-looking package.

Things to Consider Before Buying A Sleep Number

But even great-looking packages may have some fine print. Here are a few things you may want to consider before jumping into bed with Sleep Number.

#1. Requires a Wifi Connection.

In order for the Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed to work, it requires a wifi connection. The bed needs to be online for app integration, sleep tracking, and even for the Response Air technology. And more so, you must be within 8 feet of your bed for it to work.

Sleep Number Smart App
Sleep Number Smart App

All of these features are available via Sleep Number’s SleepIQ app on your smartphone. If you don’t want to use a phone, you’ll need to purchase their Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed Remote.

Note: Older remotes are not compatible with their current 360 system, so make sure that the remote is compatible with the mattress.

#2. Adjustable base not included.

The majority of Sleep Number advertising images depict beautiful people smiling in their sleep as their bed adjusts and conforms to their every movement. And some of their mattress bases can do that, but that is not a direct feature of a Sleep Number mattress.

Adjustability is largely a feature based on what base it is sitting on. If an adjustable base is an important feature to you, remember to add this to the cost when considering your total budget.

Sleep Number Adjustable Bases
Sleep Number Adjustable Bases

Depending on the exact base you go with, pricing ranges from $1099 up to $2099 for a queen mattress. This cost would be in addition to the mattress itself.

Other Options

So breaking through the marketing and luxurious brand of Sleep Number, at its core, it is a mattress with adjustable firmness and a sleep-tracking app.

For the sake of budget, let’s say that you don’t need all those features.

For example, if you can select your ideal firmness, you could opt for a non-adjustable mattress that specifically meets your needs. Or if you just wanted to sleep tracking, you could select a smart tracker from a third party.

Option 1: Non-Adjustable Mattresses

This next collection of mattresses is a series that I consider to be “honorable mentions”. Although these mattresses do not have adjustable firmness, they each come in multiple firmness levels.

Nest Bedding Sparrow sitting
Nest Bedding Sparrow sitting

With a little consideration, you will likely find that your firmness preferences fall well within a single firmness. Even with the Sleep Number, this number doesn’t typically change much, which indicates your firmness preference also does not change much.

RankSleep Number AlternativesScoreTypeFirmnessCheck PriceRead Review
1Saatva 9.74Coil3.5, 5.5, or 8Check PriceRead Review
2Winkbed9.82Hybrid4, 6, or 7Check PriceRead Review
3Nest Bedding Sparrow9.20Hybrid3.5, 5, or 8Check PriceRead Review
4Helix Luxe9.32HybridMoonight (4), Midnight (6), Twilight (8)Check PriceRead Review

If you try out one of these mattresses and then find that it’s too soft or too firm, any of these mattresses can be exchanged (within the trial period) and swapped for an alternate firmness.

Option 2: Third-Party Sleep Trackers

Or for a fraction of the cost, you can opt for a 3rd party sleep tracker that pairs with any mattress and can save you big bucks. Here are three different types of smart sleep trackers you could consider.

Amazon Halo

goes on your wrist

Amazon Halo

Muse 2 Headband

goes on your head

Muse Wearable Headband

Withings Sleep Pad

goes on your mattress

Withings Sleep Pad

Is Sleep Number Right for You?

At the end of the day, Sleep Number builds a solid mattress. They offer a 100-night trial period, a 15-year warranty, and a range of price points. Adjustable firmness is a big selling point. However, in my view, I don’t think it’s worth the cost for most sleepers.

Most sleepers enjoy a fixed range of firmness that varies between a single point on a 10-point scale (ex: between 5-6 out of 10…between 4-5 out of 10…etc).

Although it feels efficient to have a mattress that can be both soft or firm at the touch of a button, it is unlikely your personal preferences would ever sway that far.

And furthermore, the support on the Sleep Number is arguably best at the medium-firm level. We have personally tested well over 100 mattresses at this firmness level, as it is the most common firmness on the market. If you find that this is your preferred firmness too, I would likely recommend a high-scoring alternate (at a lower price point) over the Sleep Number, 9 times out of 10.

But what about partners who have very different needs than you? Some mattress brands offer split firmness for a partner who enjoys a different firmness and you can still have two separate sides.

Some of our favorite mattress brands that offer split firmness options include:

Ask The Experts

Mattress Quiz

With just 2 minutes you can take our mattress finder quiz. With a few quick questions, we can have the info we need to recommend the right firmness and best mattress for your needs.

About Derek Hales

Derek Hales

Derek Hales is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NapLab. His insights and work has been featured on ABC's Tamron Hall Show, CBS News, ESPN, Reader's Digest, Homes & Gardens, New York Post, Business Insider, CNET, & More. Derek has personally 360+ mattresses and began testing mattresses in 2014.

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