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Sleep Number It review: Slumber a little smarter with Sleep Number's It Bed

Sleep Number's It Bed is packed with tech, but it's the comfy mattress that really helped me catch some zzz's.

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Megan Wollerton
meganwollertonportraits0719-23a

Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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7 min read

Sleep Number's $1,099 It Bed connected queen mattress tracks how well you sleep via built-in sensors and integrations with select products from Nest, Fitbit and other companies. It is much smarter than your average bed. The comfortable memory foam mattress even has two inner air chambers so you and a partner can pick your own firmness settings.

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7.2

Sleep Number It

The Good

Sleep Number's $1,099 sensor-equipped It Bed queen mattress logs you and your partner's breathing and heart rates, as well as how restfully you both sleep every night. You each can adjust the firmness of your side of the bed and the mattress itself is super comfortable.

The Bad

For the amount of data the It Bed collects, I would expect it to provide much more insight into your sleep. Glitches Sleep Number is working to address occasionally led to inaccurate SleepIQ scores and missing information.

The Bottom Line

The It Bed by Sleep Number is likely a lot smarter than the mattress you have today, but I want to see more capabilities and fewer glitches before I'm willing to recommend it to everyone.

While all of that tech has the potential to offer useful sleep tips, the amount of data the mattress collected from me and my husband, Kevin, didn't match up with the amount of information we were getting back from it. Unexpected glitches in the related SleepIQ app also led to inaccurate sleep scores and missing data -- Sleep Number says it's working on these issues.

Yes, this is a cozy mattress, but the smarts need to be more reliable before I'd suggest most people spend the money on Sleep Number's It Bed. If Sleep Number can smooth out the data gathering quirks, the It Bed could be worth it to those interested in dissecting charts and graphs in pursuit of a good night's sleep.

Snuggling up to Sleep Number's It Bed

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Getting to know It

The It Bed by Sleep Number arrived in a single large box. You can install the mattress over a platform-style slatted bed frame. That means you don't have to buy Sleep Number's frame and base if you already have something that will work -- or if you simply want to buy a frame from another manufacturer.

For reference, the frame and base accessories are sold as a unit for an additional $499, taking the grand total up to $1,598. You can buy headboards and related hardware through Sleep Number, too.

Aesthetics didn't factor in heavily with the It Bed, since it's going to be covered by sheets 99 percent of the time. It's a pretty attractive mattress all the same. The knit fabric covering it looks like a mattress cover, even though it's technically an integrated part of the mattress design.

Note: I reviewed the $1,099 queen mattress, but Sleep Number also offers other sizes. A twin version goes for $799 or you can pay up to $1,499 for either a king or a California king mattress. Find out more on Sleep Number's site.

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My dog, Halley, helped me with installation.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Configuration

Setting up the mattress was as simple as taking it out of the box, setting it on the bed frame and giving the mattress some time to regain its natural shape. There's a small green tag on one corner of the mattress -- that side needed to be positioned at the foot of the bed for the tech to work properly.

Now grab the ActiveComfort Technology Module -- this is a smallish black gizmo with two tube connectors sticking from either end. Lift up the end of the mattress slightly, unzip the small pocket in the middle and connect the power cord and the air hoses (they're color-coded for easy install). This is the device that pumps air into either side of the bed. Slide everything back into the zippered pocked and close it. Then, connect the cord at the head of the bed to the included power adapter and plug it into a nearby outlet.

You'll need the Android or iPhone SleepIQ app to access every feature offered by this bed. Unlike other Sleep Number mattresses, the It Bed doesn't come with a separate remote or any other hardware you can use to see your settings and make adjustments. Follow the in-app steps to pair the bed to your Wi-Fi network and create a profile. You can also extend access to your partner so they can create their own login and profile.

The only issue I ran into here was that the air tubes had shifted during shipping, so I had to reach into the zippered pocket to find them. Fortunately, everything else was very simple.

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SleepIQ gives you a readout of exactly how long it took you to fall asleep. It also calculates restful and restless sleep, as well as any time you were out of bed.

Screenshot by CNET

Catching some zzz's

With the bed installed, you can get to the fun part -- sleeping.

Here's what I liked:

  • The mattress is comfortable -- the ability to customize your level of firmness helps with this
  • The daily SleepIQ charts detail exactly when and for how long you were restless or out of bed (see screenshot)

Here's what I didn't like:

  • You can't be in bed while it's inflating/deflating and SleepIQ doesn't help you pick your ideal firmness
  • A few different glitches led to inaccurate SleepIQ readings, as well as missing data
  • The custom messages and third-party integrations aren't actually very useful

I was disappointed that Sleep Number doesn't tell you what the right level of firmness is for you or auto-adjust it for you over time. As someone who's never bought a mattress, I have absolutely no idea which setting is "best for me."

I personally found every setting I tried comfortable -- and SleepIQ never offered any sort of guidance on that front. So I randomly chose 95 and it seemed to work fine. (100 is the firmest setting.)

It wasn't quite the same for Kevin. He started with a high SleepIQ number and then adjusted down to a 60, which he ultimately found much more comfortable. If you aren't sleeping well on this mattress, you can always experiment with different settings.

I also experienced some odd glitches. On election day (Tuesday, November 8), SleepIQ gave me a score of 38 out of 100. That isn't very good. But when I checked my chart, the app said I had gotten 15 hours and 34 minutes of restful sleep. Well, that definitely didn't happen.

According to Sleep Number, my dog, Halley, was the culprit. Apparently, she jumped on my side of the bed not long after I woke up and the tech still thought it was me. Another time the app didn't record any data at all. And another time still, the mattress calculated an average breathing rate for the night, but not a heart rate.

It Bed partners

Kevin and I set up a ton of stuff to test out with the It Bed. I installed a Nest Learning Thermostat in our house, and Kevin and I both wore Fitbits. I also wore an Apple Watch, paired my MapMyRun account and logged my weight on a Withings and a Fitbit scale.

Halfway through testing I found out Withings scales aren't actually compatible with the It Bed -- information I was unable to find either on Sleep Number's or Withings' sites. Unfortunately, the other integrations didn't add much value, either. The Nest thermostat pulled in ambient temperature data, but never distilled it in a way that helped me understand how the temperature impacts my sleep. And the same goes for all of the fitness tracking we did. SleepIQ collected a ton of data, but never once used it to give us sleep-related tips. Frustrating.

Sleep Number tells me SleepIQ gets smarter over time, but after 30-plus days of sleeping on the It Bed, these are the only suggestions we received:

  • "Megan, you're consistently receiving lower SleepIQ scores on Saturdays. Are your Friday and Saturday workouts tougher than most? Try adjusting your Sleep Number setting to see if that helps with sore muscles."
  • "Kevin, SleepIQ indicates that on nights your heart rate is above 70, your SleepIQ score goes down. What activities are you doing that elevate your heart rate? Track alcohol and caffeine consumption to see if they're the culprits."
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The app gave me a SleepIQ score of 76 that night.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Sleep accessories

Are you interested in smart sleep tech, but don't want to drop $1,000-plus on a smart mattress? There are actually quite a few options out there for you. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Fitness trackers

Yes, many fitness trackers are marketed as exercise devices, but most of them have adopted a more holistic health and wellness approach to offer some sort of sleep monitoring capabilities as well. For that, take a look at the Fitbit Charge 2, the Jawbone Up2, Microsoft's Band 2, the Garmin Vivosmart 2, or the Basis B1 Band.

  • Standalone sensors

There are plenty of sleep accessories that you don't have to wear on your wrist, though. The Beddit Sleep Monitor Classic is a wireless sensor that rests on your mattress, Samsung's SleepSense is a similar concept that you tuck under your mattress and the Hello Sense is an alarm clock that comes with movement trackers called Sleep Pills. Clip one to your pillowcase and let it track your zzz's.

https://www.cnet.com/products/basis-band/review/

Still unsure? Click through the gallery below to see even more sleep tech.

Get the best sleep with all this clever tech

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Is It worth it?

Sleep Number's It Bed isn't the only mattress decked out with connected tech, but it's actually priced pretty well when you look at some other brands.

Elements of Rest's Eve2 by Rest Revolution queen mattress has dual sides similar to the It Bed for $899, but it doesn't offer any additional smart tech. Simmons/BeautyRest sells SmartMotion bases that report similar stats as the It Bed starting at $1,199. Other brands offer some version of a smart mattress/bed frame at prices well over It's $1,099 -- Kingsdown's Sleep Smart Intuitive queen mattress, for instance, which comes with different support zones and a related app, sells at Mattress Warehouse for a whopping $11,854.

So, when it comes to smart beds, Sleep Number's It is actually quite reasonable, but $1,099 is still expensive for a queen mattress. The question is: Is it worthwhile to spend the extra 250 bucks on the It Bed over a similar-style (but non-smart) foam mattress like an $850 Casper mattress?

Maybe. If you really want to set custom firmness settings and track your sleep, the It Bed could be worth it. Just don't get it for its third-party integrations alone. If you're iffy on these features, I'd suggest going with a non-smart mattress and simply adding in some sleep-related accessories instead.

I slept on the It Bed by Sleep Number for weeks, documenting my progress here in diary-style posts. Check them out if you want to know more about the testing process.

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7.2

Sleep Number It

Score Breakdown

Features 8Usability 7Design 7.5Performance 6
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