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How to buy the best adjustable bed

Our expert buying guide reveals how to choose the best adjustable bed – from selecting the right mattress and frame to understanding your consumer rights
Sara Spary

Adjustable beds, also known as electric beds, allow you to change the position of the mattress from top to bottom so that you, or a loved one, can choose the most comfortable sitting or lying position without having to move. 

There are lots of beds and features to choose from – and a wide range of prices to match – but they tend to fall into two main categories: lifestyle and profiling.

Keep scrolling for more information on the different types of adjustable beds, how much you should expect to spend and the best mattresses to pair with your bed.


See all of our advice on mobility and disability aids, or head straight to our reviews for recommendations on riser recliner chairsstairliftshearing aids and more.


How to choose the best adjustable bed: at a glance

Here are some things to consider doing before you buy an adjustable bed:

  • Seek advice If you have a complex medical condition or changing health needs, then you should seek advice from a healthcare professional first. They should be able to help you to work out what type of set-up will work best for you. 
  • Try before you buy As with any new bed, you should test before you buy. Go along to the showroom, or ask a family member or friend to go on your behalf. When you're in the shop, have a lie down and see if it feels comfortable. Ask the sales manager to demonstrate the features. Some specialist companies offer free home visits, too, so it's worth exploring this option if it is more convenient. 
  • Look for quality For peace of mind, look for the National Bed Federation mark of approval. Manufacturers that belong to this scheme have to meet certain standards and they sign up to a code of practice that ensures things like compliance with relevant regulations. It's also worth checking if the bed comes with a warranty.

Types of adjustable beds 

Lifestyle adjustable beds

Lifestyle adjustable beds

Lifestyle beds usually offer a ‘sit up’ function to make it more comfortable to read or watch TV in bed. 

They are unlikely to offer different sleeping positions or adjustable height options, and tend to be aimed at people who want an adjustable bed for comfort rather than for health reasons.

Before choosing which type of bed to buy, it's worth thinking about the future and how your needs may evolve.

If you are looking for additional support and comfort, a lifestyle bed might be for you. But if you need more support and a wider range of functionality, you may want to consider a different type.

Pros 

  • Simple functionality and more comfortable than a standard bed. 
  • Tend to be cheaper than profiling beds. 

Cons

  • Not suitable for people with more complex mobility needs. 
  • Not many extra features available. 

Profiling adjustable beds 

Profiling adjustable bed

Profiling beds, also known as variable posture beds, offer a wider variety of positions and features than lifestyle beds, so they can be more suitable for those with specific medical or health needs. 

Profiling beds can be adjusted electronically while the person is on the bed.

The movement of the bed is controlled by a handset, which means the person in bed can also make adjustments themselves.  

There are three main options when choosing a profiling bed, and they each offer a different range of movement: 

  • Two-part adjustable beds The upper section can be raised, making it possible to sit up to read or watch TV, and making it easier to get in and out of bed. These are sometimes referred to as ‘sit up’ beds.
  • Three-part adjustable beds In addition to the back raise, there is a break at the knee, which helps to prevent you slipping down the bed.
  • Four-part adjustable beds These are like three-part beds, but with an additional flat section for you to sit on.

Pros

  • Offer a wide range of positions.
  • Tons of extra features. 
  • More suited for people with specific needs.

Cons

  • More expensive than lifestyle beds. 

Everyday tasks can become harder in later life. See all of our advice on staying independent at home


Which size adjustable bed is best? 

Control for an adjustable bed

Just like regular beds, adjustable beds come in a range of sizes, including single, double, king-sized and superking-sized. 

Comfort is a consideration here, as are your unique needs and available space.

A single bed might be plenty if you're buying for a person who sleeps alone. But if you're looking for something bigger, bear in mind that most double, king and superking beds tend to have one single operating mechanism.

Handily, many retailers also offer two singles that work independently but clip together to form a double. This is a great option for those wishing to share a bed but move independently, or if there's a chance one partner might need nursing care in the future.

Adjustable beds also tend to be a bit wider than standard beds, so do make sure you've checked it will fit comfortably in your bedroom before purchasing.

Expert tip: an adjustable bed tends to push you down the bed a little as you sit up. So, ideally, the bed should be 15cm (6in) longer than the tallest user. 


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Best adjustable bed features to look out for

Extra features, like the ones below, are typically only found on profiling beds. 

  • Height adjuster - some profiling beds are also height-adjustable, which means they can move up and down, making them easier to get in and out of. Beds that can be lowered closer to the floor can help reduce the risk of injury caused by someone falling out of bed. It’s also easier to provide nursing care on a higher bed.
  • Massage and heat pads - these can help with aches and pains. 
  • Hand rails - will make it easier to get in and out of bed.
  • Guard rails - to stop you or a loved one falling out of bed.
  • Drawers beneath the bed - if you're short on space or just want some extra storage, drawers can be handy. 
  • Built-in TV stand - this will save space and help with the positioning of the television. 
  • Battery back-up system - just in case you have a power cut. 

Which type of mattress is best for an adjustable bed? 

Adjustable bed

Adjustable beds need special mattresses. They have divisions that correspond with the different sections of the bed base, so that they bend with the base of the bed when it moves. 

Most retailers offer either 'frame only' deals or a combined deal, which includes the mattress. If you decide to buy the mattress separately, be sure to check first that it's compatible with the base.

The mattress is a really important part of the purchase. Not only does it need to be comfortable, it also needs to be able to withstand any movement from the adjustable frame over time.

Just like with regular mattresses, you will have a range of different types to choose from, including firm, soft, pocket-spring or memory foam. 

Can you put a normal mattress on an adjustable bed?

This isn't advisable. The mattress will need to work with the movement of the bed, and a specially designed mattress will be more robust and comfortable and will also help you to get the most out of the frame functionality. 

They also tend to come a little longer than a typical mattress, so they don't spring up too far when the frame is adjusted.


If you've decided an adjustable bed isn't for you right now - see our round-up of the best mattresses for 2022


How much do I need to spend on an adjustable bed? 

Single adjustable bed

Prices vary considerably, but buying an adjustable bed is not cheap. Profiling beds are typically more expensive than lifestyle beds and you can expect to pay anywhere between £400 and £5,000, or sometimes even more for a premium model, depending on the features.

As a guide, here’s what you might expect to pay for each size of adjustable bed (prices include both base and mattress):

  • Single adjustable bed: £400-£1,600.
  • Double adjustable bed: £700-£5,000.
  • ‘Dual’ double adjustable bed: £1,200-£5,000.

Many electric beds also come in king or superking sizes. Do shop around, but expect to pay more for these.  

It's also worth finding out if the company you purchase from will deliver and install the bed you choose, and how much they will charge for this. Some companies may also offer to take away an old bed.

Where to buy an adjustable bed

You can buy adjustable beds from some high street furniture stores as well as specialist stores, where you're likely to find a much bigger range. Retailers include:

  • Dreams: A popular high-street bed retailer with adjustable beds priced between £300 and £3,000.   
  • Bensons for Beds: Bensons has a small range of adjustable beds and mattresses all costing more than £2,000. 
  • Laybrook: With prices starting at £359, this specialist retailer offers a wide range of adjustable beds with different frames, including wooden, metal and leather.
  • Willowbrook: Beds from this retailer come with a three-year warranty, but you'll need to call or fill in a form to get a quoted price. 
  • Theraposture: A specialist retailer with a wide range of adjustable beds and mattresses – you can also create a bespoke beds for your specific needs. You need to phone or email for prices. 

Financial assistance for adjustable beds

Adjustable bed frame

If you think an adjustable bed might be right for you, or for someone you are shopping for, it's worth finding out whether you're eligible for any money off first.

Local funding

If you, or the person you are buying for, has been assessed by the local health authority as needing an adjustable bed, there may be some funding available. This is likely to cover only current needs and no unnecessary features.

VAT exemption

If you are registered disabled or have a long-term illness, you don’t have to pay VAT on adjustable beds or any other disability aids for your personal use. This includes installation, repairs, maintenance, spare parts and accessories. See the Gov.UK guidance for more information on the rules.

Adjustable beds: your consumer rights

Single adjustable bed

If you're buying an adjustable bed, as with any other product, you have certain consumer rights. 

Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, retailers are not allowed to use misleading or underhand tactics to get you to part with your cash, and products have to be as described.

Whether you are buying in store, online or from a salesperson in your home, you are protected by the Consumer Contracts Regulations if things go wrong.

If your adjustable bed is faulty, or develops a fault, you have rights under the Sale of Goods Act to get a refund, repair or replacement. For more information, check out our consumer rights guide – what do I do if I have a faulty product?

Useful organisations and websites

  • Age UK Advice Line a free confidential helpline for older people, their families and carers. 
  • British Healthcare Trades Association - a trade association for suppliers and manufactures of mobility/homecare products, including adjustable beds. Contact the BHTA for details of approved members.
  • National Bed Federation - another trade association for bed manufacturers. Members must abide by their code of practice. Contact the NBF for details of approved members.
  • Disabled Living Foundation - you can contact the DLF for impartial advice about independent living, assistive technology and daily living equipment.