Disadvantages of Sleeping on an Air Mattress

Although technology has improved with many of the air mattresses–with special shapes, built-in pumps and memory gadgets–I still find a number of inherent disadvantages to sleeping on them. For starters, they are a less comfortable and provide far less support than the typical body requires.

Society is aging and mattresses that don’t provide the right support can cause back and neck pain, body stiffness and undue pressure of vital organs. I consider myself middle-aged and not old, but I still need proper comfort and support to get a good night’s sleep. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to tackle the physical and mental demands of my work day. And like many people, I’m well above average in weight and can’t fathom sleeping on an air mattress and getting a quality sleep.

Research from The Better Sleep Council indicates that “people sleep better, suffer less back pain and experience fewer symptoms of stress on newer beds.” And it’s no coincidence that they list innerspring mattresses first as examples of a new, firm beds. For elderly people who have trouble with spring mattresses exuding undue pressure on certain joints, the foam pads or mattresses offer a viable solution.

A couple other disadvantages of sleeping on an air mattress are temperature control and poor ergonomics. Let’s start with temperature control. Whenever I sleep on an air mattress, I tend to get hot and sweaty. That’s because they’re usually made from polyvinyl chloride, plastic or rubber–none of which allows the proper airflow to the legs, back or stomach. Also, when I set my air mattress down on the cold floor during the winter, I soon find myself getting cold, longing for my spring mattress, even with the down covers, sheets and blankets piled atop my air mattress. Ergonomics has been a trend in the workforce for years. Ergonomic chairs, for example, are built to relieve stress on workers’ backs, legs and necks. Air mattresses are not designed ergonomically–often leaving you scrunched up–which can lead to stress-induced injuries similar to those in the workplace.

A few years ago, I used an air mattress when my elderly parents visited. I let them use the bed while I sleep on the lilo, which I hadn’t used for awhile. During the night, the thing starting losing air and kept getting more flimsy throughout the wee hours of the morning. I was practically on the floor when I woke up the next day. Yes, air mattresses can get perforated from wear and tear, ruptures and even the unintentional positioning near sharp objects. Then you have to replace them, which is costly. There’s also the arduous task (if you have a manual pump) of inflating the mattress and finding the most comfortable level of air. No matter what, air mattresses tend to lose air anyway and must be re-inflated periodically.

Sure, the technology of air mattresses is improving, as promoted on the “Sleep On Air” site, which provides a number of brands, shapes and sizes for all ages and body types. There are low and high profile air mattresses and those that better fit your body contour. But I still see similar complaints about these air mattresses from people on the internet: Not comfortably enough, wake up stiff, can’t find the right setting, loses air over time.

This brings me to my conclusion–that the disadvantages of sleeping on an air mattress far exceeds the downsides to using a spring mattress. I think I’ll just stick to my regular mattress for now. I got a full eight hours on it last night. I’m also busy and don’t have the time to constantly inflate an air mattress or squirm around for the most comfortable position.