Once reserved for holidays and houseguests,
have recently carved out a much broader niche in the bed world, due largely to the efforts of the
Sleep Number mattress company,
maker of the popular Sleep Number bed. Today's more robust, upscale air beds look similar to
innerspring mattresses, but use air in lieu of
coils. For aficionados, the air bed's most attractive feature is its adjustable
firmness, which can be easily tweaked by increasing or
decreasing the air pressure in the mattress. Of course, if you are merely seeking a storable sleep
accommodation for friends and relatives, you may be well served by a more basic,
portable air mattress.
This type of air mattress has also seen great improvements in recent years, both in comfort and ease of use.
Air Mattress Construction
When evaluating air mattresses, it is important to
understand the key elements of their construction.
Relative to a traditional innerspring
key differentiator of an air mattress is its unique air-filled
commonly referred to as an
Each air chamber is connected to an electric
air pump, which is located either inside or underneath the bed, and is
operated via a remote control. Air chambers are typically made from either
vinyl or rubber, using various techniques to ensure a tight seal that minimizes
leakage. Although some air bed owners do notice small amounts of natural
air loss over time, this is typically something that can be easily adjusted
on a periodic basis using the electric air pump.
Some air mattresses feature two separate air chambers
with a foam rail in the center to provide support between them. This design
provides the obvious benefits of both customized air pressure on each side and
between the sides. That said, in some models, the
center rail can be a source of minor discomfort in the event that one or
both sides are set to particularly low pressure levels.
The air chamber(s) are surrounded by four walls of
as well as several layers of upholstery on top. These
top layers tend to greatly resemble the upholstery in
an innerspring mattress, and can be evaluated the same way. Air mattresses
are sometimes sold with specific foundations,
however they can often utilize traditional mattress
foundations as well. In most cases, air beds will require some assembly
once you get them into your home.
Perhaps the most highly acclaimed, and well-advertised,
feature of the air mattress is its adjustable firmness. By increasing or
decreasing the amount of air in the mattress, air beds can be configured
to a precise level of desired
or even different levels of firmness on each side. Air bed advocates find
this advantageous in many ways, not only to resolve differing preferences
between sleeping companions, but also to adapt to changing preferences
for any one person over time. Some people find their
needs simply change over the natural course of a mattress' 10+ year lifespan.
Others find their inclinations are influenced by shorter-term life events
such as pregnancy or injury. Still others claim that their predilections
vary on an even more frequent basis, depending on their activities that
day for example.
Air Mattress Support
In an air mattress,
support is provided by the air-filled
As such, air pressure needs to be adjusted to a relatively firm setting
in order for the mattress to do its job. Some people find that the mattress
loses its comfort at this level of firmness, leading to the common complaint
among air bed detractors that air mattresses are either too soft to be
supportive or too firm to be comfortable. Enthusiasts counter that the
easy adjustability of an air bed allows you to find the precise level of
pressure that delivers this balance appropriately. If you are concerned
about finding such a balance, it is recommended that you go with a firmer
air pressure setting for support and add a
memory foam topper or other cushioning layer for comfort.
Additional Air Mattress Features
For those seeking the best possible air mattress experience,
a number of additional features are available on higher-end models. Extra
cushioning, from traditional
memory foam pads,
can enhance the comfort of the air mattress. Remote controls can be cordless,
and are available with lighted keypads and programmable settings. And quieter
air pumps, sometimes referred to as a
"whisper quiet" pumps,
can help prevent noise disturbance from any late-night adjustments. (When running, a standard air pump
usually sounds something like a hair dryer wrapped in a blanket.)
Air Mattress Manufacturers
Leading brands of upscale air mattresses include Sleep Number and
Comfortaire. To find other air mattress lines, please browse our
extensive list of air mattress manufacturers and product lines below.
I have bought Tempur-Pedic beds for every room in my home. Slept on a standard TP king for over 10 years. Bought the new Tempur Pedic Choice Luxe bed, with inflatable/adjustable air chambers September 2013. We have adjusted this bed every way possible...we both wake up with extreme back pain ...
Got the bed delivered. Programmed our sleep number...gave it a try (three days as instructed by our salesperson). When I got in bed the first time, I felt that it was completely different than the bed we had tested in store (so did my husband). Much more uncomfortable. Woke the ...
Posted by dorothy
from Anchorage, AK
on February 20, 2014
I have had this mattress for over 24 years. I fell on the ice up here and hurt a nerve in my lower back that the docs said they could not fix..so I bought one of your original mattresses. years later, when when it started to leak air the mfg ...
Posted by Cindy F
from Katy, TX
on January 4, 2014
Just bought this bed last night, woke up and rolled over and literally rolled down to my husband, it was at least a four inch difference in our side of the mattress, so I thought well maybe his side was set on soft. Not the case his side was set ...
Posted by Linda W
from Trenton, IL
on November 4, 2013
it was hard to get used to, but after several months was able to get at least half of nights rest, our biggest problem now [its 6 years old], is trying to find valve parts, the mattress goes completely flat through out the night. we wake up several times through ...
Posted by Julie V
from Charlotte, NC
on August 6, 2012
I have back and shoulder problems so this bed is perfect for me. I love how soft the foam is yet it still supports my problematic areas. The remote controlled areas is perfect for my fiance and I when we need to adjust the level of comfort. Definitely worth the ...
Posted by KRISTI T
from Waterloo, WI
on September 18, 2011
I can not begin to tell you how disappointed I am in this bed. We have had this bed for four years and have tried to make it work, especially after spending $3,000.00 dollars! I too, trusted our chiropractor's advice and truly wanted to believe this was going to help ...
This mattress created a 2-3 inch depression in center...when store manager came to inspect...he agreed a replacement should be made...when I called the company number he gave me...they said no....Im not a very happy customer... This company does not stand by their products... The place I purchased this mattress from ...
We bought this mattress from a Select Comfort Store at our local Mall; thinking this was going to be the greatest thing. A good night sleep with no aches in the morning. We have an Antique Highback full size bed and it being a small bed we at least wanted ...
Not valid on previous purchases. - Mention that you saw this promotion online when shopping at the store and receive 5% off your total purchase. Not valid on previous purchases, comfort swaps, or warranty swaps. Cannot be combined with other offers.