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.
Posted by Vince C
from Newport Beach, CA
on January 23, 2013
I’m speaking from experience and I won’t bore you with all the ugly details, I Purchased a COMFORTARIE Air Bed Mattress Elite 1 at the OC Fair (FIRST MISTAKE) from WEST BAY Sleep in Lake Elsinore I was told by the salesperson at the OC Fair that it was a ...
Posted by Julie V
from Richmond, CA
on December 13, 2012
I've had shoulders and back problems for many years so it's hard to find the perfect bed to support my back. I needed one that is plush enough yet also firm enough. I'm glad I chose this bed because I can choose how firm I want it to be depending ...
Posted by John Z
from Charlotte, NC
on September 9, 2012
I was looking online after looking at Sleep Number. I went to youtube and seen some Videos on Innomax Air mattress. The videos were very informative. I contacted the website and spoke with the man of the video. His name is John. I called John and he answered all my ...
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 ...
Posted by Denise J
from Orange, CT
on November 9, 2010
I would not recommend this bed. It arrived with a broken motor. 1 year later the air controls broke down and now another year later the inner tube is leaking. The warranty says they repair or replace 100% however then they tell you that you have to pay shipping. $57 ...
Posted by A. B
from Austin, TX
on September 5, 2010
Every Sleep Number bed I've slept on, including the one I own, is like sleeping on a blow-up raft. Regardless the setting the bed is not supportive in the right areas. Too firm and it is like sleeping on a board. Lower settings and it sinks in the middle - ...