The Right Mattress for Adjustable Beds (to Avoid Damage)

You have done the research and found the adjustable bed frame that meets your needs and budget. But it does not come with a mattress.

In the past, you had always purchased mattresses and box springs together. Maybe they sat on a metal bed frame or fit onto a headboard, footboard arrangement that matched your bedroom furniture.

Regardless, to get the best experience with your adjustable bed you need the proper mattress.

There are multiple foam options, traditional innerspring, hybrids, and air chamber mattresses.

In a nutshell, all-foam mattresses are more suitable for adjustable beds compared to other types of spring mattresses that do not flex as well.

Let us review the mattress options and how well suited they are to an adjustable bed frame.

Foam Mattresses – Ideal for Adjustable Bed Frames

If until now you have slept on traditional box spring and innerspring mattress combinations, a foam mattress may sound like a downgrade.

You associate foam with the product sold at the craft store. You replace the foam on a chair cushion, but you do not expect it to last years and years.

There are two categories of quality foam mattresses ideal for adjustable bed bases – Memory Foam and Latex Foam.

Memory Foam Mattresses for Adjustable Bed Frames

NASA commissioned the development of viscoelastic polyurethane foam in 1966 to ease the G-forces experienced by astronauts when they left or returned to the earth’s atmosphere.

Tempur-Pedic introduced this foam to mattress applications in 1991. Not surprisingly, the term memory foam was coined for marketing rather than viscoelastic polyurethane foam which is technical and not very sexy.

A memory foam mattress consists of a solid layer of memory foam or a layer of memory foam atop support foam. When the sleeper lies on the mattress, the memory foam conforms to the contours of the sleeper regardless of sleep position.

Over time the mattress molds to the sleeper’s position and more quickly adapts. The memory foam offers excellent comfort and support without causing pressure points that could stress joints (neck, back, legs, etc.).

As the mattress is an all-foam construction it conforms readily to the adjustable base as the frame is pitched or articulated.

Can Any Memory Foam Mattress Work on an Adjustable Bed?

Whether or not your memory foam mattress, if you already have one, is suitable for an adjustable bed very much depends on the actual layers of materials that make up the mattress.

Technically, a memory foam mattress shall refer only to an all-foam mattress where a layer of memory foam at the top is supported by other layers of higher-density foam at its base.

However, mattresses making use of a layer of memory foam on top of a layer of spring construction lead some to also call them memory foam mattresses thus confusing the term. A foam + springs (often pocketed springs) design is a hybrid mattress.

Therefore, only all-foam memory foam mattresses work well on adjustable beds. Hybrid mattresses are not suitable.

Latex Foam Mattresses for Adjustable Bed Frames

Latex is a wide-ranging term. It is the milky fluid found in many plants, extracted by cutting the plant and which coagulates upon its exposure to air. Latex from the rubber tree is the main source of natural rubber.

Synthetic latex is produced by dispersing polymer products in water. There are endless applications for synthetic latex including paints, adhesives, foams, gloves…

Latex foam mattresses may be 100% natural (rubber), synthetic, or a hybrid of natural and synthetic latices. Latex foam mattresses feel springier than memory foam mattresses, reshaping to a sleeper’s movement at night more quickly.

Latex foam mattresses also offer excellent comfort and support without the pressure points. However, natural latex mattresses tend to be heavier than other foam mattresses.

Therefore, can you use a latex mattress on an adjustable bed?

As with its memory foam counterpart, the latex foam mattress flexes and conforms to the different sections of the adjustable base as they are pitched or articulated making it a suitable type of mattress for adjustable beds.

Mattresses Less Ideal for Adjustable Bed Frames

Yes, it’s a mattress. It may be a quality, expensive mattress. But it may not be a mattress ideal for an adjustable bed frame.

Traditional Innerspring Mattresses

Unless you had a waterbed in the 1970s, the innerspring mattress is likely the mattress on which you have slept most of your life.

Springs and coils interlocked to provide support. The interlocking of the springs making the mattress rigid in shape. The mattress may contain a cushion top to aid comfort, but the construction of this mattress does not leave it well-suited to conform to the adjustable base.

Hybrid Mattress

The hybrid mattress combines the structure of a coiled spring mattress with layers of latex or memory foam for comfort.

The hybrid mattress with its multiple layers tends to be a thicker mattress. The thickness and coil structure induces a stiffness that is not well-suited to the adjustable base.


This is not your camping air mattress which you blow up like a balloon.

You have seen the commercial. You like a stiffer mattress; your sleeping partner likes a softer mattress. Get a mattress where you can dial the feel.

Well, this is achieved via air chambers which control the feel of the mattress by increasing or decreasing the air pressure in various chambers. The concerns here are stiffness and potentially restricted airflow.

As different parts of the adjustable bed are pitched, the air-filled chambers of the airbed simply do not conform well to the change in angle.

How Thick is Too Thick

As the mattress features increase so does the thickness of the mattress (and box spring for traditional arrangements). There are two concerns here – overall height and adjustable bed frame performance.

It is a problem if the overall height requires a step stool or mastering the high jump (i.e. the Fosbury Flop) to get in bed.

Thick mattresses are heavy and stiff. Stiff mattresses are less conforming as your base adjusts and heavy mattresses stress the mechanics of your adjustable base.

How thick should a mattress be for an adjustable bed?

Ideally, you would acquire the thinnest mattress which meets your comfort requirements. For foam mattresses, 6 inches is generally assumed as a minimum for comfort while 12 inches is considered a maximum for adjustable bed frame performance.

Today’s foam mattresses are the quality complement to your adjustable bed frame.

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