Sleep Number’s 360 p5 is a smart bed, but can it solve your sleep problems?

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Smart gadgets always promise to solve a fundamental problem of human existence. Security. Exercise. Eating. Even sleep can be solved – or so the Sleep Number 360 p5 smart bed suggests.

What’s smart about the Sleep Number 360 p5? As with most smart doohickeys, it’s all about the data, which in this case comes from sensors in the mattress. The results are put through an algorithm that shoots out a Sleep IQ score. The bed’s sensors can detect whether you’re in bed, how much (or little) you’re moving, how often you’re breathing, and even your heart rate.

While the data points are many, they don’t pester you. Sleep Number’s technicians delivered the bed and set up the SleepIQ application used to explore what it records, so I literally didn’t have to lift a finger to make the bed work. That’s good news. Who wants to worry about updating a bed’s firmware?

It’s simple, but is it useful?

My first few nights with the bed were fascinating. Every morning I woke and checked the SleepIQ app, which gave me a SleepIQ score and showed when I was restless or had left the bed. It wasn’t hard to connect the dots between restless nights and the previous day’s activities.

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Drinking a late coffee kept me tossing and turning longer than normal, just as studies suggest. Downing a few beers late in the evening — or even a full glass of water — was a surefire way to have a good night’s rest interrupted by my bladder at 3 a.m.

That information led me to correct my habits. I don’t drink coffee as late as I used to, and I try to avoid drinking much of anything after 9 p.m. So, have those changes improved my sleep?

Well…I don’t know.

You can change how the bed feels on each side for whatever level of comfort you, or partner, prefer.

The app has a historical graph of my SleepIQ score, which bobs and weaves and averages out to 81. That’s better than average, according to the graph, which seems good. Yet changing my habits hasn’t improved my sleep. My average in September was lower than August.

Am I more stressed? Have I changed how I eat? Has my cat become more insistent in asking for a midnight snack? Or is the slight change – about five points – not enough to be relevant?

Sleep Number can process the data, and it does provide some recommendations in certain situations. Sync your workouts with the app, and it can alert you if they seem to be interfering with your sleep. Yet that data doesn’t tell your life story. The Sleep Number peers into your life through a tiny window, and that holds it back.

My sleep number is ZZZzzz…

Still, it’s a nice bed.

You’ve likely heard of Sleep Number before. Previously known as Sleep Comfort, the company was founded on a technical innovation – the ability to change mattress’ firmness at will. The Sleep Number 360 p5 does that by laying foam around two air-supported cores. That means you can change how the bed feels on each side, so you and your partner can have whatever level of comfort you prefer.

That was a good idea three decades ago, and it remains a good idea today. The bed comes with a remote, but the app adds a much nicer interface for changing the bed’s settings. You can change the Sleep Number from your phone, and you can have multiple phones connected to the bed through the app, so you and your partner can adjust each side simultaneously.

At $2,299 retail (or $1,900 on sale) this is an expensive mattress, and it feels expensive. The foam structure gives it a pleasant, consistent structure without the lumps or bumps you might find in a spring mattress. Sleepers who prefer a pillowtop might be disappointed because even the softest setting lacks the fluffy feel of a pillowtop, but I think most sleepers will be instantly pleased by the bed’s feel.

If you’re spending this much…

Sleep Number is fighting at a premium price point against competitors like Serta, Tempur-pedic, Leesa, and Lull, to name a few. Yet very few competitors offer smart features. Those that do are smaller companies selling at eye-popping prices. Eight might be the only serious alternative, and it sells for less.

Maybe you don’t need a smart bed, but if you’re going to spend this much for a mattress, it’s a nice bonus –one very few competitors offer. Add in the 25-year warranty, the adjustable dual-zone firmness, and thick foam construction, and you’ll start to see why the Sleep Number p5 360 is so expensive. It’s a nice bed.

Just don’t expect it to solve your sleep problems. That’s still on you.

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