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How Do Adjustable Beds Work? Our Simple, No Bull Guide

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According to, 36 million mattresses are sold per year. So on average, 690,000 mattresses are sold each week! Whether you’re seeking a natural solution to snoring and other health concerns, or you simply want a deeper, more restful sleep, adjustable beds can provide the relief and relaxation you desire. 

And while choosing a regular mattress and bed frame can already be intimidating, adjustable beds introduce a whole new set of adjustable settings and technology. Learn the underlying mechanisms of how adjustable beds work so you can better navigate your options and buy the bed base and mattress that best serves your needs. 

The Basics Mechanics of Adjustable Beds

An adjustable bed is nothing without its adjustable bed base upon which sits your mattress (if you’re using an adjustable base, this mattress needs to be memory foam, latex foam, or a similarly flexible and durable mattress).

Using a motorized power base, the adjustable bed base lets you raise the head of the bed (and, in more advanced models, also the bottom of the bed) from a flat 0-degree position to a raised height of anywhere from 40 to 70 degrees. 

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All adjustable bed bases contain the following mechanical components:

  • The sleeping surface: This is what your mattress sits on.
  • One or more movable joints: These motorized, rotating joints create the different adjustable positions for your health and comfort. Basic models will include a movable hinge at the top of the bed, while more advanced models will have numerous joints where your pelvis, legs and knees would be.
  • Retainer bar: This holds your mattress in place as you raise or lower your adjustable bed base.
  • The controller: Some adjustable beds have a plugged-in remote that lets you customize the angle of your bed. More advanced models include wireless technology so you can adjust your bed using your phone or similar device.

Read our full Adjustable Bed Buyer’s Guide

How Do Adjustable Beds Work: A Breakdown of the N50 Adjustable Base 

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The N50 Adjustable Base, which can hold up to 600 pounds, has a single motorized joint (powered by a 1.8 amp internal motor) at the head of the bed.

After assembling the bed base and attaching its six legs to the bed frame, you plug the power cord into the bottom of the bed frame. The wired remote controller also gets plugged into the jack at the bottom of the frame.

The remote offers two simple buttons that raise the head of the bed up, and raise the head of the bed down. When pressed, the motor simply pulls the top of the base upwards or downwards, thus manipulating the angle of your mattress from 0 degrees to a height of 58 degrees.

How Do Adjustable Beds Work: A Breakdown of the E255 Adjustable Bed Base

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Unlike the N50, which has just one motor and a single movable joint, the E255 Adjustable Bed Base can hold up to 700 pounds and has two motors (both at 1.5 amps) and multiple hinges/joints:

  • A motor and joint at the top of the bed for your head and upper body
  • A motor at the base of the bed frame
  • Movable joints/hinges at your hips and knees

Also unlike the N50’s wired remote control, the E255 uses wireless technology to adjust the angle of each movable hinge.

After assembly, plug the bed into your power outlet and install two AAA batteries into the remote control. You have three preset positions, plus the option to manually set the angle of your head and your feet independent of each other.

Upon selecting a preset option, or hitting one of the manual adjustment buttons, the motors at the head and foot of the bed kick into gear, either lifting or lowering either end of the bed. 

The head can be inclined by up to 60 degrees while the foot can be inclined by up to 40 degrees. Throughout it all, your pelvis always stays neutral for optimal back support.

How Do Adjustable Beds Work: A Breakdown of the M555 Adjustable Bed Base

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The full-featured M555 Adjustable Bed Base kicks it up a notch with added technology for increased customization and comfort. 

It has two 1.5-amp motors, one at the head of the bed and one at the foot of the bed. But that’s where its similarities with the more basic E255 end:

  • It can support up to 850 pounds of weight
  • Installed under the bottom of the bed is a more advanced control box, from which cords run to not only the motors, but also a built-in back massager and foot massager
  • USB ports are installed on both sides of the bed for charging your smartphone, tablet or other devices
  • Built-in LED lights add a subtle (and optional) nighttime glow for safety and for comfort

Using either the included wireless controller, or using the optional smartphone app, you have the options of:

  • Adjusting the head incline by up to 60 degrees 
  • Adjusting the foot incline by up to 45 degrees
  • Using five conveniently preset incline/recline options
  • Turning on the dual-zone massage options (with up to 12 different adjustable settings)
  • Adjusting the under-bed lighting

Choosing the Best Adjustable Bed For You

As you can see, the mechanics of how adjustable beds work are the same in different bed bases. However, the outcomes are different depending on the number of hinges and motors built into the bed base. 

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As you’re researching how adjustable beds work, consider these mechanical criteria:

  • Do you need just head incline/recline options (e.g. ideal for snoring, sleep apnea, acid reflux, etc.) or do you also need leg and foot adjustments (e.g. ideal for swelling, circulation, etc.) too? 
  • Are weight capacities an issue?
  • Do you need additional technological features, such as built-in massaging?

Finally, there may be additional factors you want to consider that go beyond simply how the adjustable bed works or how many motors it includes. Take aesthetics, for example. The N50 Adjustable Base has a chic, simple metal frame in a black finish while the more advanced M555 has a linen-inspired upholstered frame in a gray-toned hue.

At No Bull Mattress, we offer the best adjustable bed bases (and mattresses to go with it) that fit your personal needs. Contact us today to learn more about how adjustable beds work, and how each of the above models offer unique benefits at convenient price points that fit any budget.



Benefits include improved circulation, reduced snoring, and relief from back pain.
Adjustable beds use a motorized base to adjust the angle of the head and feet.
Adjustable beds are compatible with most types of mattresses, including memory foam, latex, and innerspring.

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