Air Mattress

Written by Mohammed Aftab

Last Updated March 13, 2024

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you didn't have a bed to sleep on? It might have happened when you hosted a visitor, attended a sleepover, or even went camping. Air mattresses are useful in situations like these when you wish you or a friend had a comfortable surface to rest their tired bodies on. This article will educate you all about air mattresses, including what they are made of, the various types, how they each function, and what to look for when purchasing one.

latex mattress

Key Takeaways:

  • Air mattresses are best used for a temporary period, such as when you're traveling, camping, or for guests staying the night.
  • Raised air mattresses are higher than traditional air mattresses to resemble a real bed; self-inflating air mattresses have in-built pumps for automatic inflation; manually inflatable air mattresses require an external pump for inflation.
  • Air mattresses offer portability, affordability, and customizability as their primary advantages, but they are less reliable, temporary, time-consuming (to inflate), and hot (to sleep on) in comparison to other mattress types.
  • Size, height, firmness, material, and construction are important things to consider in an air mattress for it to be suitable to your budget, sleeping position, body weight, and health conditions.

what is an air mattress

What is an air mattress?

An air mattress is an inflatable mattress commonly used for camping, sleepovers, or traveling. It is lightweight and portable, making it an excellent choice for people seeking a temporary sleeping solution. It is also a more affordable option than an innerspring or memory foam mattress.

Air mattresses are typically made of plastic or vinyl and are filled with air via an internal or external pump. The air pumped within the mattress provides cushioning and support. It can also be adjusted to provide varying levels of firmness and support, making it an adaptable option for people with varying sleeping preferences.

Types of air mattresses

There are three common types of air mattresses you can find on the market today:

  1. Raised air mattresses

Raised air mattresses are those that are elevated off the ground to a similar degree as any other common mattress type would be. They are "double high," or more than 10 inches thick.

Raised air mattresses offer a more conventional feel than "single high" air mattresses, which fall below the 10-inch thickness threshold.

  1. Self-inflating air mattresses

Self-inflating air mattresses have a built-in pump that uses a remote control or a knob to automatically inflate the mattress. With a self-inflating mattress, you simply plug it into a nearby power outlet, and your mattress will be ready to use in just 5 minutes.

  1. Manually inflatable air mattresses

As the name implies, manually inflatable air mattresses are inflated and deflated manually, typically using an external pump.

Unlike self-inflating air mattresses, manually inflatable air mattresses do not need to be plugged into a power outlet to be inflated. This is ideal for people who take their air mattresses outside and must rely on an external pump. Manually inflatable air mattresses are also less expensive than self-inflating air mattresses.

What are the benefits of an air mattress?

There are numerous advantages to using an air mattress. Here are some of the primary advantages:

  • Affordability: Air mattresses are generally less expensive than other types of mattresses, making them an excellent choice for those on a tight budget. A good quality air mattress will cost you between $100 and $300, whereas other mattress types typically start at $500 or higher.
  • Customizability: Air mattresses offer a wide range of customization options. You can choose them in different shapes and sizes, even allowing them to be fitted into vehicles. Furthermore, you can customize its size, firmness, and thickness as desired, as well as select from various types such as self-inflating, manual inflating, raised, and so on.
  • Portability: One of the most significant advantages of an air mattress is its portability. Air mattresses are lightweight and easy to transport, making them an excellent choice for camping trips or overnight guests. Along with its portability, it is versatile and easy to store.
  • Easy maintenance: An air mattress doesn't require the same level of meticulous cleaning as other mattresses. A little soap and water can be used to clean the vinyl, rubber, or plastic that makes up the material of an air mattress, which can then be dried and stored.

What are the disadvantages of an air mattress?

While using an air mattress has many perks, there are a few drawbacks to take into account.

  • Time-consuming: Many people find the process of blowing up an air mattress—one that doesn't have an integrated pump—to be laborious. An air pump or an external pump is necessary to inflate certain air mattresses. Even with built-in pumps, air mattresses require a power outlet to be plugged into. Then there's the fact that they need to be re-inflated every time they deflate.
  • Not as comfortable: Air mattresses can be comfortable, but they are not as comfortable as traditional mattresses. Latex, memory foam, hybrids, and innerspring mattresses are all better at contouring, relieving pressure, and supporting the sleeper. They are also intended for long-term use, whereas air mattresses are mostly intended for short-term use.
  • Comparatively less durable: Air mattresses can be long-lasting but they puncture or deflate over time. Unless your air mattress is made of heavy-duty, reinforced materials, which are more expensive than traditional air mattresses, you'll always have to be careful when laying it down on a surface. Even the most durable air mattress can be killed off by a significant enough tear.
  • Unsuitable temperature: The materials used to make air mattresses might not be as breathable as those used to make conventional mattresses, which could trap heat and make the mattress feel warmer. Additionally, some air mattresses have a plastic or vinyl surface that, depending on the climate, can be hot or cold to the touch.

Who should and shouldn't get an air mattress?

a person sleeping on an air mattress

Air mattresses may be a good option for people who:

  1. Need a temporary sleeping arrangement, perhaps for visitors or while on the road.
  2. Desire a portable, light mattress.
  3. Prefer a soft mattress that can be adjusted for firmness.
  4. Demand a unique kind of mattress, like an air cushion for pressure sores.
  5. Need a low-cost alternative to traditional mattresses.

However, air mattresses may not be the best option for people who:

  1. Experience joint or back pain as a result of inadequate support.
  2. Are sensitive to noise.
  3. Have allergies or chemical insensitivity.
  4. Want a long-term, permanent sleeping solution.
  5. Are trying to find a mattress that can withstand heavy use.

When determining whether an air mattress is the right choice for you, it's critical to take your needs and preferences into account. If you want a long-term, permanent sleeping solution, a traditional mattress is a better choice. However, if you only need a mattress for occasional use or travel, an air mattress could be ideal.

Selecting the right air mattress for your needs

Your preference for air mattresses will differ depending on your convenience and environment. Here are the important factors to consider regarding this dilemma:

  • Body weight

Knowing whether an air mattress suits your body type is essential to achieving the best level of comfort. A soft air mattress is best for thin people under 130 pounds. A medium-firm air mattress will do if you weigh between 130 and 230 pounds. Choose a firm air mattress that is more than 10 inches thick if you weigh more than 230 pounds.

As a general rule, the heavier you are, the thicker and firmer your air mattress should be. Fortunately, air mattresses let you inflate them to your desired level of support, so if you require more support, add more air. Some air mattresses feature built-in lumbar support or contours that can be beneficial for people with specific types of back pain.

  • Health conditions

Some medical conditions may make it difficult for a person to sleep peacefully on an air mattress. For instance, due to the lack of support and potential buildup of pressure points, people with chronic back pain or arthritis may find sleeping on an air mattress to be uncomfortable. Also, the lack of airflow on an air mattress may make it difficult for people with respiratory conditions like asthma or emphysema to breathe.

We suggest you consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about how an air mattress may affect your health.

  • Budget

Air mattresses are available at a variety of price points, so you should be able to find one that fits your needs. Budget-friendly options include basic air mattresses that are simple and easy to inflate and deflate, with prices ranging from $20 to $50. Going a step further, mid-range options include air mattresses with built-in pumps, adjustable firmness settings, and extra features like raised edges, which typically range from $50 to $150.

If you want to go all out and buy high-end options, you can choose air mattresses with advanced features like automatic inflation, built-in air pumps, and wireless remote controls, which typically cost $150 to $300 or more. Keep in mind that a higher price does not always imply higher quality. Therefore, it is essential to read reviews and assess the features of an air mattress before making a decision.

natural and organic latex mattress topper

Features to look for when buying an air mattress

There are a few features to keep an eye out for when choosing an air mattress. The following are some of the most crucial aspects to take into account:

  1. Size

Air mattresses are available in a range of sizes, including twin, full, queen, and king. While full and queen air mattress sizes are great for two people, and king-size air mattresses are made for more than two people, twin-size air mattresses are typically the smallest and are made for just one person. Depending on the air mattress's brand and model, each size can have different dimensions.

  1. Height

The height of the air mattress is important because it influences how easy it is to get in and out of bed and how comfortable the mattress feels. Air mattresses are available in a variety of heights ranging from 7 to 20 inches. Single-high air mattresses are typically lower to the ground, measuring 7 to 9 inches in height. These air mattresses are smaller, making them easier to store and transport. They are usually less expensive as well.

Double-high air mattresses, on the other hand, are typically taller, ranging in height from 18 to 20 inches. They are usually more comfortable and easier to get in and out of because they are closer to the height of a traditional bed. However, their prices are typically higher than those of single-high air mattresses.

  1. Firmness

When it comes to firmness, you can find air mattresses that range from extra soft to extra firm. Aside from that, the firmness of an air mattress is typically determined by the amount of air contained within the mattress. More air means a firmer mattress, while less air means a softer mattress.

Consider your personal preferences for mattress firmness when selecting an air mattress. Some people like a firm mattress for support, while others like a softer mattress for comfort. According to research, a medium-firm mattress provides the best comfort and support.

  1. Material

Most air mattresses are made of one of the following materials:

  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a widely used material in air mattresses. It is a waterproof and long-lasting synthetic plastic material. PVC air mattresses are frequently less expensive than other types of air mattresses and are simple to clean.
  • TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a type of synthetic rubber-like substance that is waterproof and long-lasting. TPU air mattresses are typically more expensive than PVC air mattresses, but they are also more versatile and comfortable.
  • Textile materials such as nylon, polyester, or cotton are also used to make air mattresses. These components are frequently used to create the top layer of mattresses, which offers a cozy sleeping surface.

The top layer of some high-end air mattresses may also be made of memory foam or latex, which is more supportive and comfortable to sleep on. When selecting an air mattress, the material is crucial to take into account as it can affect the mattress's comfort, durability, and ease of cleaning.

  1. Construction

The typical design of an air mattress includes one or more air chambers that can be inflated to create the sleeping surface. PVC, TPU, or other synthetic materials that are long-lasting and waterproof are used to create the air chamber.

Two major components make up an air mattress' construction:

  • The base or bottom layer: This is the part of the mattress that sits on the ground or on the bed frame. This component is usually made of PVC or TPU and is responsible for providing the shape and support of a mattress.
  • The top or comfort layer: This is the part of the mattress that you sleep on. It is usually made of a textile material such as nylon, polyester, or cotton and can be quilted for added comfort. Some air mattresses also have a memory foam or latex layer on top for added comfort and support.

air mattress construction

Some air mattresses include built-in pumps that allow you to inflate or deflate the mattress to change its firmness. Others might necessitate the use of an external pump.

  1. Inflation options

Air mattresses must be inflated using either a built-in or external pump. Most air mattresses include an in-built pump that is typically powered by batteries or electricity. Some air mattresses include an external pump that can be used to manually inflate the mattress.

When choosing an air mattress, think about the inflation options and figure out which one is best for you. If you intend to use the mattress frequently, especially indoors, you should consider getting one with a built-in pump. If you intend to use the mattress only occasionally, especially as an outdoor air mattress, an external pump may be a better option.

  1. Warranty

The majority of air mattresses come with a warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship. The warranty period varies depending on the brand and model of the air mattress. Some air mattresses have a one-year warranty, while others may have a two-year or longer warranty.

It is critical to carefully read the warranty information and understand what is and is not covered. It's also important to keep a copy of the purchase receipt or proof of purchase, as this is typically required to make a warranty claim.

How do you test an air mattress?

 testing out an air mattress

Test an air mattress out first to make sure it is cozy and supportive before making a purchase. The following advice will help you test an air mattress:

  • Lie down: Lie down on the mattress and adjust the firmness to find the most comfortable level, then move around to evaluate the comfort and support.
  • Bounce: Assess the stability and bounce of the mattress by bouncing on it.
  • Check the seams: Inspect the mattress seams to ensure they are tight and secure.
  • Pump it up: Observe the air mattress inflation time after inflating it to its maximum capacity.

If you are dissatisfied with any of these features, skip ahead to the next mattress.

Care and maintenance

Air mattresses must be cared for and maintained on a regular basis to ensure they last a long time and remain comfortable to sleep on. Here are some pointers on how to care for and maintain your air mattress:

  • Keep the air mattress clean: Clean the mattress's surface on a regular basis with a damp cloth and mild soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as these can damage the mattress's surface.
  • Protect the mattress from punctures: To protect the mattress's surface from punctures or tears, use a mattress protector or fitted sheet. When handling sharp objects or using the mattress outside, exercise caution.
  • Store the mattress properly: When not in use, keep the mattress in a dry and cool place. Avoid storing it in damp or humid environments, as this can encourage the growth of mold or mildew on the mattress.
  • Inflate and deflate the mattress properly: Inflate or deflate the mattress with a high-quality air pump. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for inflating and deflating the mattress. Do not over- or under-inflate the mattress, as this can harm the air chamber.
  • Check for leaks: Regularly inspect the air chamber for leaks; if you find any, patch them immediately.

By adhering to these recommendations, you can ensure that your air mattress continues to be in good condition and offer a comfortable night's sleep for as long as possible.

natural and organic pillows


  1. Is it healthy to sleep on an air mattress?

Sleeping on an air mattress can be healthy as long as it is not a cheap air mattress and provides adequate support and comfort. Back pain and poor sleep quality can result from an air mattress that is too soft or does not provide enough support. A too-firm air mattress can also be uncomfortable. Find an air mattress that can be adjusted to your preferred firmness level.

  1. Is it okay to sleep on an air mattress every day?

Sleeping on an air mattress every day is not recommended. Though air mattresses provide a cushioning surface for sleepers, they do not provide sufficient support to the spine as a traditional mattress does. Even the best air mattresses are often recommended for temporary use, such as for guests, camping, etc. Choosing the best air mattress can, however, allow you to sleep on it for a few more days than when choosing a cheap air mattress.

  1. What is the difference between an air bed and an air mattress?

An air mattress is typically more compact and portable than an air bed, and it's frequently used for camping or as a temporary sleeping arrangement for visitors. In contrast, an air bed is typically larger and more similar in size to a real mattress. Air beds are intended to be used as an alternative to conventional mattresses and are more long-term sleeping arrangements.

  1. Is an air mattress good for bed sores?

According to studies, air mattresses that can be custom inflated or deflated are effective in preventing bed sores.

Related blog posts:

1. Twin Vs. Twin XL - Mattress Size Comparison

twin vs twin xl mattress size comparison

2. Awesome Sleep Apps That Will Help Improve Sleep Quality

3. Full Size Bed Dimensions: Mattress Measurements in Inches, Cm, And Feet

4. 5 Signs That Shows Its Time For A New Mattress

5. How To Care For Your Latex Mattress Topper

Disclaimer: What is said in this article has been referenced from multiple sources and is intended only for educational and informational purposes. Please note that no content in this article is a substitute for professional advice from a qualified doctor or healthcare provider. Always consult an experienced doctor with any concerns you may have regarding a health condition or treatment, and never disregard any medical suggestions or delay in seeking treatment because of something you read here.