What Is An Air Mattress

Helen Skeates
Helen Skeates
31 min read

Simply put, an air mattress is a bed that can be inflated to provide extra sleeping space. There are enough variations on the standard foam or innerspring mattress on the market that purchasing an air bed will not make you feel out of step. But if you’re still interested in learning more, keep on reading!

We’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of air mattresses so you know what to expect. And can you use it as your regular bed given that it can support a decent weight range? If you keep reading, you’ll find out if this product is recommended.

What Is An Air Mattress And What Makes It Special?

Air is the primary component of an air mattress, as opposed to the foam found in conventional mattresses. The PVC used in the construction of the outer shell of some models makes the air mattress both lightweight and easy to transport. The construction of an air mattress today may also include urethane plastic or even rubber.

An air bed has the advantage of portability over other types of mattresses due to its ability to be inflated and deflated. Camping and other trips where you might want to bring a comfortable place to lie down have made it a household name. The best part is that you can fill or deflate the air mattress without a pump.

Best Air Beds 2023: which air mattress topped our expert tests? - Which?

Types of air mattresses

You’re not restricted to the standard air bed design, which looks like a giant pool float. Combining materials in this basic design is something manufacturers have done to make sleeping more comfortable. Supportive air beds like these are recommended by some medical professionals.

The foam mattress is a great illustration of this. The surface of the model, which is an inflatable air bed, is made of memory foam. People who appreciate the contouring effect of this material will love it.

Other variations include those with a mixed or alternating airflow. The former also features a foam layer, but its air pockets are regularly spaced apart. A mattress with alternating air flow, on the other hand, uses lateral air cells and often incorporates a pump right into the bed itself.

What Does An Air Mattress Do?

To create a comfortable and supportive sleeping surface, air mattresses simply fill with air and deflate. Some models come with an integrated air pump, while others have a valve for attaching your own pump. However, you can also use items that can blow air to inflate an air mattress in the absence of a pump.

Simply replacing the valve cap after inflation will keep the air inside. Keep in mind that water is too heavy to use as a filler for the bed, as it never compresses. If you lie on the mattress, the seams will eventually pop due to the uneven pressure.

Can You Use An Air Mattress As A Regular Bed?

Regular use of an air mattress is as safe as using any other type of bed. But you need to make sure you’re getting enough help and can relax. One should pay attention to any discomfort or lack of sleep.

Pain in the neck, back, or limbs is possible if the body is not in a neutral posture. The coldness of an air bed may also be an issue for some people, especially in the winter. Some people may even overheat on the air mattress due to its impermeable exterior.

How to make an air bed better for daily use?

Maintaining the mattress in good condition will help prevent leaks from occurring. The bed will no longer be supportive once its structure has been compromised. Maintaining the proper firmness and shape of the mattress requires periodic re-inflation.

Finally, if the bed itself has flaws, choose high-quality accessories to make up for them. A mattress topper, for instance, can be used to increase the softness of a mattress. You should also invest in a supple and permeable mattress cover to ensure optimal temperature control.

Are Air Mattresses Good?

Because of how easily they can be packed away, air mattresses are a fantastic item to have on hand. Furthermore, some air beds are made to actually be healthy for you. Facilitating healthy blood flow and relieving pressure are two ways they can do this.

The “floating” sensation of sleeping on an air bed is great for people who are prone to developing sores. However, you should still watch your posture while lying on the mattress. Since they are designed to withstand regular use, memory foam and hybrid mattresses remain our top choices for the long haul.

Can You Sit On An Air Mattress?

Air mattresses pose no long-term safety concerns for sitting on them. If you have a habit of sitting, especially on the edge of the bed, you should try to break it. You’re putting all your weight on one side of the air mattress and tearing at the seam if you keep doing that.

Do’s & Don’ts for Air Mattresses

Do: Keep Inflated When in Use

If you deflate and inflate your air mattress often, you risk damaging the seams. Leave the air in the mattress for the duration of the guest’s stay rather than inflating and deflating it daily if the guest will be staying for multiple nights.

Do: Deflate for Storage

While air mattresses can be inflated quickly using electronic or battery-powered pumps, deflation can take several hours. It might seem like a good idea to roll up your air mattress, release the air, and then store it without first unplugging the air valve. However, the mattress may be harmed by this practice. Forcing the air out stretches the seams, which puts stress on the seals and may cause them to fail. Before storing the mattress, be sure to unplug the valve and let it fully deflate. If your air mattress has a quick deflation setting, use it before putting it away. If you hear a faint hissing sound close to the valve, the air mattress is still losing air.

Don’t: Allow Pets

Pets should not be allowed on air mattresses, even if they are accustomed to sleeping on beds or furniture. Holes can easily be made in the air mattress by any animal with sharp claws. The tendency of animals to push off or jump off of furniture can also put pressure on its seams.

Don’t: Overfill

The seams of air mattresses can burst if they are inflated to their maximum capacity. Your air mattress should only be inflated to about 90% of its maximum capacity the first time you use it. The risk of the mattress bursting increases as more weight is added to it.

Don’t: Sharp Objects

Patching a torn air mattress can be challenging. Duct tape and vinyl patch kits are only a short-term solution, so it’s likely that the air mattress will need to be replaced. Mattresses should be kept far from sharp objects like pencils, safety pins, needles, paper clips, and other similar items. Before getting into bed, it’s a good idea to remove any sharp objects from your pockets.

The 8 Best Air Mattresses, Tested by The Spruce

Best Overall: King Koil Queen Air Mattress with Built-in Pump

Our Favorites

  • Mattresses with a taller profile
  • Sizes range from Twin to Queen to California King.
  • Weight limit of 600 pounds

The Things That Bother Us

  • Not having a dual-pump setup
  • It would be preferable if the flocked edges stood out more.
  • No settings for firmness adjustment

Any other advocates out there? The King Koil Queen Air Mattress was recommended by Bob Vila, The Strategist, and Good Housekeeping. 123

Customer feedback, if any. Over eighty-seven percent (2,740 ) of reviewers on Amazon gave this product four or more stars.

The well-known King Koil Air Mattress came out on top after we compared it to ten different models in our lab. This is the best option if you want a lightweight, compact mattress that is easy to set up and transport. This air mattress comes with a built-in pump and two separate knobs for quick inflation and deflation. The entire process of setting it up and taking it down took only 7 minutes.

Since the top of the King Koil is completely flocked, it is very plush and pleasant to lie on. The suede-like surface also kept sheets in place, which was a major plus. While the mattress performed well overall, our team of testers did find that the sides were not as soft as they had hoped. This meant that the sheets did not fit as tightly as they could have.

When we jumped on it for stability testing, it shifted an inch or two, just like the other mattresses we tried. We think the mattress would stay in place better if it had a flocking or a grippier bottom. Still, I felt confident using it despite the slight wobble. With a weight limit of 600 pounds, it’s also suitable for use by two people. If you need even more space, a California King size is also offered.

Overnight, we put 100 pounds of evenly distributed weight on this mattress. However, as expected of a mattress without a backup pump for nighttime inflation, it shrank from 21 inches to 19 inches over the course of the night. It’s not the most expensive or the cheapest air mattress available, but it’s priced fairly in relation to the quality it provides, which is why we recommend it.

The inflated Queen size measures 80 by 60 by 20 inches, is inflated with an electric pump that is built in, can hold up to 600 pounds, and comes with its own pump.

Best Queen: SoundAsleep Products Dream Series Air Mattress with ComfortCoil Technology & Internal High Capacity Pump

Things We Dig

  • Comparatively quieter pump
  • Solid and unyielding in form
  • Easily stowed

Disliked Features

  • The pump’s cord is too short.
  • Possible overly firm sensations
  • Setup time was longer than anticipated.

This is our top pick if you need a bed that fits a queen-sized mattress. Among the many queen-sized air mattresses we examined, SoundAsleep’s Dream Series stood out due to its superior comfort, durability, and overall quality of construction. Its inflated dimensions are 78 by 58 inches, which is slightly smaller than a queen mattress (80 by 60 inches). In our testing, we didn’t notice the slight size difference, and the mattress held up fine under 500 pounds.

There are forty individual air coils inside this queen-sized air mattress. The plush flocked top of this mattress adds to its overall coziness. The mattress “has a nice appearance (the colors are really pretty), and it felt comfortable,” according to our panel of experts. It has a built-in pump to help with inflation and deflation, though our reviewers would have preferred a faster pumping rate. This queen air mattress took 7 minutes to fully inflate, which is significantly longer than other options with a built-in pump. Even though deflating the mattress was a slow process, we found the deflate function on the pump to be very user-friendly. When stowed in the provided bag, it’s easy to transport and stow away.

Pump Included: Yes Inflated Size: 78″ x 58″ x 19″ (Queen) Inflation Method: Built-in electric pump Weight Capacity: 500 lbs.

Best Dual-Pump: Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress with Never Flat Pump

Our Favorites

  • Additional air pressure pump
  • Simple to move around and put away
  • Included edge support

The Things That Bother Us

  • Plusher flocking is possible.
  • Boxed product emits a potent odor
  • While inflating, the pump makes more noise than I would like.

The inconvenience of waking up on a flat, deflated bed is avoided with a dual-pump air mattress. And if you’ve ever gone to bed on an air mattress and woke up to find it deflated on the floor, you’ll know how convenient a dual-pump option can be. We tested several models and found that the Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress was the most comfortable overall. We found that after testing this solution overnight, it lost less than an inch of height while supporting 100 pounds. One reviewer even went so far as to say, “If sleeping on a deflated mattress is a concern, this has a great feature meant to prevent that.” It’s soft and spacious, and the elevated design makes getting in and out a breeze.

In less than 5 minutes, the Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress is fully inflated, and you can adjust it to a plush, medium, or firm feel. However, the motor was noticeably louder than expected while filling the mattress. Keep in mind that the Never-Flat secondary pump, which monitors and maintains air pressure, will produce some light motor noise while the mattress is being set up. While it was not an issue for our reviewers, they did note that those who are easily disturbed by noise should think twice before purchasing a dual-pump air mattress.

Air Bed Stock Photo - Download Image Now - Pool Raft, Cut Out, Mattress -  iStock

While the flocked top of this mattress is nice, it wasn’t as plush as some of the others we tried. The mattress had the most potent new-mattress odor of anything we tested. We had no issues with its longevity or portability. In fact, after our tests, the mattress looked as good as new, and we appreciated the convenient carrying handles on the mattress’s storage bag.

Dimensions (when inflated): 77″ x 58″ x 18″; Weight Limit (when inflated): 500 lbs.; Is Pump Included?

Best with Frame: Ivation EZ-Bed Air Mattress with Frame & Rolling Case

Things We Dig

  • Normal bed height
  • Rolling container for stuff
  • Modifiable levels of stiffness

The Things That Bother Us

  • Expensive
  • Tough to lug up and down the stairwell
  • Not as inflated as the rest of the mattresses we tried.

The elevated sleeping surface of a framed air mattress makes it more convenient to get in and out of bed. It also makes any unused space feel more like a proper guest bedroom. The Ivation EZ-Bed Air Mattress is our top pick because of its innovative design and self-deploying frame, which raises the bed to a standard 24 inches in height. This air mattress, along with its accompanying frame, was among the ten we tested in the lab and found to be the simplest to erect. It only took 6 minutes and 32 seconds to finish and required minimal effort on your part. Our shopper said, “You just unzip the case, select the firmness level, and move the dial to inflate. It couldn’t be easier.” A guest bed can be made up and ready in a matter of minutes.

The Ivation EZ-Bed Queen is equipped with 48 support coils and comes in plush, medium, or firm. A bed with a flocked top is more comfortable and the sheets stay put. When inflated, the frame gives the bed a substantial appearance, making it suitable for short-term use in a tight guest bedroom. It’s worth noting that this mattress has the potential to lose some air overnight and may wiggle a little bit under shifting weight. We tested it overnight and found that 100 pounds caused it to collapse.

The durability was not a concern for the testers. The mattress was simple to deflate, and it all fit inside a rolling duffel bag. Although our reviewers had no trouble rolling this air mattress out of the closet, they did find the carrying case to be on the heavy side. It’s not recommended to store it on a different floor than the one you plan to use it on, as it may be difficult for one person to carry it up a flight of stairs.

Dimensions when inflated are 79 by 61 by 24 inches (including the frame), and it can hold up to 450 pounds. An electric pump is included for inflation.

Best Budget: Coleman GuestRest Double High Air Mattress with Built-In-Pump Queen

Our Favorites

  • Quick installation with a 120-volt pump
  • Plush top
  • Built with extra reinforcements

Disliked Features

  • Only up to 300 pounds can be supported.

The Coleman GuestRest Double-High Air Mattress is an affordable and simple option for a good night’s sleep. Its affordability and superior comfort, stability, and support in the Laboratory made it a clear winner. It has a built-in pump and carrying case, and it can withstand both indoor and outdoor use. This cheap air mattress inflates in about 5 minutes and is ready to use whether you’re taking it camping or setting it up at home for overnight guests.

This bed scored high marks in comfort due to its plush flocked top and high 18-inch profile. There are no added conveniences, such as a built-in pillow or adjustable firmness (the pump must be turned off manually). However, according to our reviewer, it is “a great, budget-friendly option that is comfortable and easy to get in and out of.” The built-in pump makes it simple to inflate, and the lack of frills means that you and your guests won’t go without comfort.

Our 100 pound tester jumped onto the mattress with no effect, and after an entire night of pressure, the mattress retained its original height. The case could use a handle to make it easier to carry from room to room or from the car to the campsite.

Pump Included: Yes Inflated Size: 78″ x 60″ x 18″ (Queen) Inflation Method: Built-in electric pump Weight Capacity: 600 lbs

Best Splurge: AeroBed Air Mattress with Built-in Pump & Headboard

Our Favorites

  • Headboard that has a USB port built in
  • Dual-pump technology allows for customized firmness.
  • Large internal volume

The Things That Bother Us

  • Static on the flocked surface
  • Possible slippage under forceful motion

The AeroBed Air Mattress has a built-in pump and other high-end features that make sleeping on an air mattress a more luxurious experience. One of our testers said this luxury air mattress was the most like sleeping on a real bed compared to the others we tried. Since it is 19.5 inches tall and has the same width and length as a standard bed, it is not surprising that it mimics the feel of a mattress. The full size air mattress we tried out was 78 inches in length and 54 inches in width.

This luxury air mattress is more expensive than the others we researched, but we think it’s worth it because of all the added features. The bed has a USB charging port, a secondary Comfort Lock pump to keep the mattress firm, and a headboard to prevent your pillow from falling off the end of the bed. It only took me 7 minutes and 30 seconds to get the mattress set up and ready to go. You can adjust the firmness of the mattress by turning a dial on the side of the bed. Turn the dial to deflate and open the valve to pack up this air mattress.

We still wanted to ensure that the mattress’s primary function—providing a comfortable place to sleep—was served. This air mattress, like others of similar quality, features air coils for extra support and comfort. The flocked surface is meant to be comfortable and keep sheets in place, but our tester discovered static if they did so without a cover. Keep in mind that when we tested its durability, we leaped onto it, causing it to budge an inch or two, but this wasn’t a major issue.

Full inflated dimensions are 74″ x 54″ x 19.5″; electric pump inflation; 600 lb. weight capacity; pump included.

Best for Kids: AeroBed Air Mattress for Kids, Twin

Our Favorites

  • Flared out edge
  • Rapid inflation/deflation
  • Including a custom-fitted cover

Disliked Features

  • A mattress that is shorter than the standard twin size
  • Compressor on the outside

The AeroBed Air Mattress for Kids is an absolute necessity if you frequently host sleepovers or have guests who are young children. It has a raised bumper around the edges to prevent children under the age of four from rolling off onto the floor. Our young and young-at-heart reviewers alike loved the boat-like shape and soft cover.

Light jumping caused it to wobble, but it didn’t move around the floor and felt secure. Please note that the inflated length of this air mattress is only 60 inches, whereas the standard length for a twin air mattress is 75 inches. That being said, a twin option may be necessary if you expect to host children who are significantly taller than the average.

After putting this mattress through its paces, we discovered that it took just four minutes to go from the box to being ready for use. Even though it doesn’t have a built-in pump, our reviewer found the external pump to be just as simple to operate (just make sure you don’t lose it!). It was also simple to deflate the mattress. When the valve is opened, the air is released quickly, allowing the mattress to be folded and stowed away in its drawstring bag until the next sleepover. The air mattress and pump are small and lightweight enough to take camping or to a friend’s house.

Dimensions when inflated are 50 by 25 by 10 inches; an external electric pump is required for inflation; the maximum load is 300 pounds; and the pump is included.

Best Twin: Intex Dura-Beam Standard Series Deluxe Pillow Rest Raised Airbed

Our Favorites

  • Integrated pump
  • Uncomplicated inflation and deflation
  • Simple to transport and store

Disliked Features

  • Possible movement-induced shift
  • Lack of a firmness slider

The Intex Dura-Beam is an excellent choice for those looking for a twin-size air mattress that will last. This model’s dimensions are identical to those of a standard twin mattress in length (75 inches), and it’s also wider by an inch. We found the mattress to be quite comfortable during our testing, despite our relatively short stature of 16.5 inches.

The Intex Dura-Beam twin air mattress is perfect for use as a spare bed, thanks to its built-in electric pump. We gave the 6-minute setup time and overall ease of the bed’s construction 5 stars. We also discovered that deflating the air mattress with the pump was much quicker and easier. This air mattress has a flocked top, an integrated pillow, and a high profile to make it ideal for a single sleeper. We gave it a perfect score of 5 across the board because it was so well-made, comfortable, and long-lasting. When we tested this air mattress, we noticed that it shifted an inch or two when we jumped on it. However, we weren’t shocked to see some movement on the twin mattress because of the smaller footprint.

When deflated, this air mattress folds into a bag with handles, making it easy to store or transport for camping. In terms of portability, it received a perfect score from our experts. The Intex Dura-Beam received a perfect score of 5 from our testing team, who had no suggestions for improvement.

Size when inflated: 75 by 39 by 16.5 inches (twin); can hold up to 300 pounds; pump is included; inflation method: built-in; pump included;

Best Adjustable: Beautyrest Skyrise Full Raised Express Air Mattress with Electric Pump

Our Favorites

  • Provides solid backing
  • Weight limit of 700 pounds
  • Push-button firmness regulation for instant relief.

Disliked Features

  • The use of an external pump
  • Inflating and deflating it takes longer than with competing models.

Mattress firmness is a personal preference and should be selected in accordance with how you prefer to sleep. The plush, medium, and firm settings on an air mattress allow you to customize the mattress to your personal preference. After researching and testing numerous models, we decided that Beautyrest’s Skyrise Raised Express Air Mattress was the best option. During evaluation in our lab, sleepers said this mattress was “almost like a regular bed” and “my back felt supported.” As expected, it’s rated 5/5 for design and 4.5/5 for comfort. The air mattress’s inflated dimensions were shorter (by 1 inch) and more narrow (by 2 inches) than a standard full-size mattress, so it only received 4 stars instead of 5 for comfort.

The Skyrise Raised Express Air Mattress makes use of an electric pump to inflate the bed to the desired level, rather than a dial with pre-set firm, medium, or plush settings. The mattress then has a convenient comfort button that can be used to adjust the level of firmness with the touch of a finger. You don’t have to settle for the air mattress’s predetermined firmness or manually release air through the valve; instead, you can tailor it to your preferences with this feature. This mattress, once inflated, receives a perfect 5 across the board for its longevity, steadiness, and support. We jumped on it lightly and it didn’t budge, and it only deflated by about an inch during our overnight weight test.

Amazon.com: SWANAIR Queen Air Mattress Auto Fast Inflate and Deflate with  Built-in Pump 18" Raised Air Bed Auto Stop After Full Inflation Waterproof Inflatable  Bed Blow up Mattress 80"x60"x18" for Home &

Please note that this air mattress does not have a built-in pump, but rather requires an external electric pump. This air mattress took 9 minutes, 18 seconds longer to inflate than the others we tested. “The external pump made inflation slower and wasn’t that intuitive,” said our testing team. Deflating, however, is a task that is best accomplished by two people, so that was a major bottleneck until we figured out that the pump had separate inflate and deflate functions. Putting together this mattress is rated as four stars.

Dimensions when inflated are 73 by 52 by 15 inches; inflation is accomplished with an external electric pump; the maximum load is 700 pounds; and the pump is included.

How We Tested the Mattresses

Our editorial and testing staff spent 12 hours at The Lab in Brooklyn’s Industry City sleeping on 10 different air mattresses. We timed how long it took to blow each one up (and deflate it for storage), how loud the pump was, and how quick and easy it was to set up. After blowing up each mattress, we evaluated them based on their overall quality, as well as aesthetics and functional aspects like cord length. The next thing that was looked at was how easy it was to get in and out of bed, how much of a hard floor surface could be felt while sleeping, and how comfortable the mattress was overall.

We then took a flying (albeit cautious) leap onto each mattress to gauge how well it held its shape, how it felt to move around on the floor, and so on. We also measured the height of each mattress and weighed it down with 60-100 pounds of evenly distributed weight (depending on the mattress size) before leaving it alone for a full night to see how well it held up. We remeasured their height the following day to see if they had lost any air and if so, by how much. The durability of air mattresses is a common worry, so we made sure to keep track of any that tore or showed signs of use. We evaluated the air mattresses’ portability after we deflated and stored them. We weighed them, took note of whether or not the pumps and cords tucked away neatly, and checked to see if they came with a carrying case. Finally, we compiled all of our ratings to reveal the best air mattress for any need or price range. We’ll also provide periodic updates after our in-house testers have had time to use the air mattresses in real-world settings for an extended period of time.

What to Look for in an Air Mattress


You should first determine the desired height of your air mattress before looking at different models and brands. Shoppers can choose between low-profile and double-height models, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages. Low-profile mattresses are convenient for camping trips because of their portability and light weight, but they may require more walking because they deflate more quickly. Additionally, a manual pump may be included with select models. Double-height mattresses may not be practical in all cases, but they do come with convenient electric pumps. In addition, your guests will appreciate how comfortable, durable, and slump-proof they are.


There is a wide range of prices for air mattresses, so you can choose one that works within your budget. Remember that air mattresses of any price have the potential to lose air or get punctured over time. However, higher-priced models are typically built to last longer. Think about your intended use for the air mattress before you commit to a price. Do you anticipate your mattress being used for just a few nights, or will it be used for a longer period of time? In this way, you can determine the most efficient means of maximizing your investment.


You should give some serious consideration to the length, width, and height of your mattress. A set of twins will do if you need to shop for children. A full or queen size mattress is recommended for adults and couples.

Inflation method

Most modern air mattresses come with their own pumps, eliminating the need to manually inflate the mattress. The latter feature is especially important if you intend to take the mattress out into the wilderness with you, so make sure you check if the one you’re considering needs to be plugged into an outlet or if it has a battery-powered pump.


How much are air mattresses?

The good news is that you can easily find an air mattress within your price range. Nevertheless, the quality will likely change as the price does. Check out the details and customer feedback of a potential purchase before committing to it.

How long do air mattresses last?

Air mattresses, despite common belief, can last for several years with minimal wear and tear. An air mattress has a minimum lifespan of eight years. Obviously, if your air mattress gets punctured often or is otherwise overworked, its useful life will be cut short.

Why do air mattresses deflate?

It’s not uncommon to wake up to a sagging, slightly deflated air mattress, even in the absence of a puncture. What gives, then? Usually, it all comes down to the temperature. Since evenings are typically cooler than mornings, the air in your mattress will condense, causing it to feel slightly flatter than usual. While many models do a good job of keeping air inside, it’s important to remember that this does not make them airtight. Over time, air can leak out of your mattress through even a tiny opening.

Can you sleep on an air mattress every night?

High-quality air mattresses aren’t just good for weekend camping trips and spur-of-the-moment vacations. You should not, however, resort to sleeping on an air mattress on a nightly basis. This type of air bed may not be suitable for overnight stays due to its lack of support compared to a conventional mattress.


An air mattress is a good investment for frequent fliers. A air mattress, you ask? In case you forgot, it’s an air-filled plastic or rubber structure designed to look like a foam or innerspring mattress.

Helen Skeates

Helen Skeates

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