Can You Sleep on an Air Mattress Permanently?

The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. [Read our full health disclaimer]

Updated on February 16, 2023

Campers and regular sleepers alike have asked the question, “Can you sleep on an air mattress permanently?”

And it’s no wonder – air mattresses can be cheaper, more portable, and just as comfortable as regular mattresses when you purchase a high-quality product!

But is it bad to sleep on an air mattress long term?

Not really but it can have bad side effects like developing back problems, skin irritation, and allergies. In this article, we explore the idea of a permanent air mattress and the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of long-term lifestyle change. Then, we discuss ways to make air mattress living more comfortable and how to choose the best product on the market for maximum durability and a positive experience.

Modern bedroom interior with furniture under shiny lamps

Air Mattress vs. Traditional Mattress

Where a regular mattress has metal coils or memory foam, an air mattress has just that – air. Most people don’t rely on this type of mattress for everyday use, but that shouldn’t necessarily stop anyone from it for an extended period if it makes the most sense for their life.

While some people prefer the support and firmness of a regular bed, others like the soft, fluid support of an air mattress.

For some, the sturdiness of a regular bed is helpful for health conditions or to avoid motion transfer when sleeping with a partner.

Others, prefer the extra give of an air mattress, especially when sleeping alone.

What are some of the other benefits of an air mattress? Let’s take a look.

Benefits of an Air Mattress

There’s more to sleeping on an air mattress permanently than the savings and the portability. Some of the most notable benefits of sleeping on an air mattress long-term are:

  • Comfort – Campers and non-campers alike can all enjoy the comfort of an air mattress. One of the beautiful things is that you have full control over the firmness by how much or how little air you allow into the mattress while you sleep.
  • Affordability – When you don’t want to sleep on a cold floor in a sleeping bag, an air mattress and an electric pump can make all the difference without breaking the bank. It’s an easy way to get a little bit of luxury cushioning at your campsite without shelling out tons of dollars for it.
  • Portability – A queen-size air mattress can fit inside of a car, a tent, a van, and just about anywhere! It’s large enough to spread out and get a good night’s sleep but small enough to fit into these common traveling shelters. Their size and the fact that you can deflate and re-inflate whenever you need to make them perfect for camping trips or on-the-go adventures.
  • Easy to store – When you need extra space fast, you can easily deflate your air mattress and tuck it away so there’s more room to sit, stand, eat, or just hang out.

Disadvantages of an Air Mattress

Sleeping on an air mattress permanently isn’t all good, however. These are some of the most commonly reported drawbacks of sleeping on one long-term:

Lack of Temperature Regulation 

When you’re sleeping on an inflatable mattress, you don’t want to wake up feeling like you’ve been stuck in a sauna. But what happens when you do? You might find yourself waking up sweating profusely. And while some people say that this isn’t a problem, others claim that it’s one of the most common complaints about inflatable beds.

woman covered in white blanket sleeping on white bed comforter

The issue stems from how these mattresses work. They trap hot air inside, making it difficult to regulate your body temperature. This makes sleeping on an inflatable bed feel hotter than sleeping on a traditional mattress. In the summer, the material can hold heat, making you hot and sweaty as you sleep.

You can try to combat this by opening windows, turning off lights, and taking frequent showers. However, this doesn’t always help because the air trapped inside still takes on the temperature outside, meaning that you’ll still end up sweating.

Deflation

Deflation will always be part of having an air mattress. You’ll need to keep it away from all sharp objects to avoid premature deflation. 

One of the biggest dangers of an air mattress is that it can burst. This can either lead to fast deflation or even an explosion, which can make you panic. Especially if it happens in the middle of the day while you are sleeping, it can be very dangerous.

However, it’s worth noting here that the risk of a mattress bursting is far less compared to the risks 10 or more years ago, because nowadays there are many different types of air mattresses out there, some of which come with warranties and others don’t. Also, people who have the “exploding head syndrome” might be more prone to getting scared if the mattress would explode.

Another reason why it can burst or rupture is due to the presence or exposure to flammable aerosols or fires. If you are overweight, it can also occur because the mattress doesn’t fit well into the bed frame.

Risk of developing back problems

There’s always a risk of developing back pain if you sleep on an air mattress with poor spinal alignment. Since there are no coils to support the middle of the body, and no deep contouring, the weight tends to weigh down the center part of the air mattress which can lead to posture problems, lower back pain, upper back pain, or neck pain. 

A mattress for camping like an inflatable mattress is great for trips, but they don’t provide much support for your body. In fact, they aren’t designed to do so. They are meant to be used for short periods of time, like one night. Long-term use could lead you to develop back pain and stiffness. You might even wake up feeling sore.

Young man in sleepwear suffering from headache in morning

Without proper support, your spine will remain out of alignment, and you won’t receive the restorative sleep you need. This can cause serious health problems over time.

Unavoidable motion transfer

There’s nothing you can do about the motion transfer on an air mattress. When one person moves, if another person is sharing the mattress, they will feel it.

Motion transfer in air mattresses is something that many people don’t think about, but it’s actually quite common. If you’ve ever had a partner who is a light sleeper, you’ll know how annoying it can be. You might even find yourself waking up because your partner has rolled over and moved around in bed. This motion transfer happens when there are gaps in the material of the mattress. Air moves into those gaps, causing the mattress to rise slightly.

This movement transfers to the person sleeping next to you, especially if they’re heavier than average. They tend to roll around more and wake up more often. It’s not toxic, but it does mean that you won’t get a good night’s rest.

Airbed Materials

The material used to make airbed mattresses isn’t always safe. In fact, some manufacturers use chemicals like flame retardant chemicals, formaldehyde, phthalate plasticizers, and other dangerous substances. These chemicals can be found in the core of the mattress itself, as well as in the padding and springs. They’re often mixed into the fabric during the production process, and they can remain in the product long after it leaves the factory.

These chemicals can cause respiratory issues, skin irritations, allergies, and even cancer. Some people even report experiencing headaches, dizziness, and insomnia after sleeping on these products.

SIDS Risk

One of the most serious risks associated with using an airbed is sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. This is a rare condition where a child dies unexpectedly during sleep. While there are many theories about what causes SIDS, experts agree that the main reason behind this condition is due to the fact that babies are prone to turning over onto their stomachs or sides when placed on an unleveled sleep surface.

A Baby Bed With Toys Decoration

In addition to this, some people believe that placing babies on soft surfaces such as pillows or cushions can restrict their airflow, causing them to stop breathing. Experts say that the safest way to ensure that you’re putting your baby to sleep safely is to use a firm mattress and avoid placing them on soft surfaces like pillows or cushions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under one year old should sleep in a crib, while those aged 12 months to two years old should sleep in a bassinet or cradle. After that age, kids should sleep in a separate room away from adults.

Skin Irritation

Even if you don’t have any serious skin conditions, or any at all. Sleeping on an air mattress can still feel uncomfortable. It’s made of vinyl, which can scratch against your skin and cause irritation. And it doesn’t provide much support, either.

If your skin is just generally delicate, the grinding and reaction of the mattress against your body can feel very inconvenient and lead to irritating rashes, redness, or rough and dry skin, according to WebMD.

Allergies

Many air mattress manufacturers claim that their products are covered with the best quality hypoeallergic material. However, it does not mean that every single person is free from having allergy problems. In fact, many people throughout their lifetime are not aware of their allergy problems.

Some of them do not even know what allergens are. Others may not realize how important it is to take care of their health. They may not understand why they should avoid certain things. They may think that they are immune to such problems because they are healthy and fit. But, there are still some people who suffer from allergies. These include asthma, hay fever, eczema, and others.

Cooler Temperature

Finally, it might get cold so close to the floor. You know what we mean.

We know that you can always put a bed frame and air bed on the top, but sometimes that isn’t so convenient for people who have limited space and don’t have room for a big frame.

White Bed Linen

That’s where these convenient beds step in. They’re still comfortable, but they’re small enough to fit anywhere. And since they’re designed to work with most standard mattresses, you won’t have to worry about buying anything special.

Still, if you have poor insulation and heating, sleeping on a hard surface during winter months can be tough and you may catch yourself catching cold and sick.

This doesn’t represent a problem to everyone, but for some, the fact it’s chilly is a real deal breaker.

Luckily, there are some solutions, like these handy little beds.

How To Make an Air Mattress More Comfortable

There are plus sides and downsides to sleeping on an air mattress permanently. However, if you’ve decided to start sleeping this way, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to make it as comfortable as possible.

From treating it like a real bed with quality linens to investing in accessories like a bed frame or headboard, here’s how you can make air mattress sleeping feel like a luxury:

Treat It Like a Real Bed

There’s nothing worse than having to fall asleep against the fake velvet texture that typically tops an airbed. If comfort level is important to you, treat it like a real bed – complete with pillows, a top and bottom sheet, and a comforter or quilt on top. Being able to climb under the covers like you’re used to is a small comfort you will be glad to have night after night.

Re-Inflate As Needed

An inflatable mattress won’t be able to last a long time without getting deflated, it’s part of its nature. Rather than waiting for it to deflate and getting upset about it, set up an inflating session on a regular basis to avoid any major deflations or disappointments. When you top up the air every so often, you start to forget about the old days of waking up on the ground.

Photo of a Lamp Near the Bed

Choose a Mattress Topper

One small change that can make a major difference is investing in a high-quality memory foam topper for your airbed. This can help with heat retention and temperature control as well as absorbing a bit of the motion transfer energy. The topper will shield away the coldness of the mattress surface and mimic the texture and feel of a real mattress and make it feel less like an air mattress.

Invest in Accessories

If you’re going to be sleeping on this mattress every night, you’re already saving a ton of money.

Use a bit of your savings to invest in a few accessories that can make your nights more enjoyable and comfortable.

Some of the top-recommended accessories include a headboard, mattress stand, or bed frame. Some contemporary air mattresses even include a built-in pillow. Depending on the permanence of your living situation, you may also choose to invest in a side table, shams, or additional throw blankets for extra comfort.

How to Choose a Permanent Air Mattress

Not all inflatable beds are made the same. When you buy a cheap one, you can usually tell the difference from a higher-quality product.

Before you make your final selection, here’s what you need to consider to make sure you’re choosing a good air mattress for long-term or permanent use.

Comfort

What is more important for sleep than your comfort? Nothing! Do whatever you can to find a product that will support your comfort at night. Some mattresses have features that others do not that make them more attractive, like air coils. These act similar to regular metal coils in providing additional support throughout the middle of the mattress to keep the center from dipping and resist motion transfer.

Bed with linens in room

You can also find air mattresses with built-in accessories like a headboard or bed stand for extra support and stability.

Air Retention

Air retention is an important feature you’ll find only in the best air mattresses out there. So many of the lower-priced air mattresses can give out on you thanks to pin-prick holes that seem invisible to the eye but can let the air out like crazy. So, it’s a good idea to check for reviews about air retention to see what previous buyers have to say about how long the air stayed inside.

The amount of air retained in an air mattress depends on several factors including the type of material used, the size of the mattress, and how often you use it. A quality air bed will retain more air than one that isn’t as well constructed. You’ll find that some mattresses hold less air than others, even though they’re advertised as having the same capacity. This is because different materials absorb air differently. For example, foam absorbs air much better than spring coils.

You can usually tell whether a mattress is worth buying based on how long it takes to inflate. If it takes longer than five minutes, it probably won’t work out too well. Air mattresses tend to take about 10 to 15 minutes to fully inflate, depending on the brand and model. Some models come with built-in pumps that make inflating easier.

Material

Most inflated mattresses are made from materials like polyvinyl chloride, vinyl, or other types of plastic. For most people, this is fine because this is what they expect. If you’re looking for a nicer mattress, however, you can look for more eco-friendly options that are PVC-free.

Quality air mattresses are built with durable materials like polyester fiber, PVC, foam, and cotton. They’re designed with support structures like internal springs, internal air coils, and chambers that distribute pressure evenly across the entire surface area of the mattress.

Self-inflating pumps reduce bulkiness and make inflating and deflation faster and more efficient. Some models even include a remote control that lets you adjust the amount of airflow into the mattress.

And most people prefer a tall mattress height because it makes getting in and out of bed easier. A shorter mattress requires more effort to lift and lower yourself each morning and evening.

Durability

Close-Up Photography of Woman Sleeping

Another concern about the synthetic materials typically used to make blow-up mattresses is their durability. Something as small as a rock underneath the tent can lead to air leaks. A durable air mattress comes with reinforced bottoms or double lining. 

Warranty

A good warranty is vital. You need to ensure that there are no hidden costs or surprises. Look out for things like extended warranties, extended protection plans, and extended coverage periods. If you buy a product online, check whether it includes free returns or exchanges.

Some air mattresses come with a warranty that protects you against problems and leaks caused by manufacturing defects. If you’re worried about the longevity of your bed, look for a product that features a good warranty before you buy anything.

You must also consider how much support you want from manufacturers. Do you want to pay extra for technical help? Will you receive regular email updates about your product? What happens if you need to return the product?

Look at the manufacturer’s reputation. Is there a history of customer complaints? Does the manufacturer offer a guarantee? How do customers feel about the brand? Are there any reviews on social media?

Finally, read the terms and conditions carefully. They might contain important information such as limitations on liability, exclusions, and what happens if you don’t use the product properly.

Maintenance

Are you okay with an air mattress that you have to maintain from time to time with air top-ups and maybe a few patches here and there, or are you only looking for something that can go the distance without much maintenance from you?

Friends with pet smiling on top of bed

Built-in Electric Pump

The days of manually pumping up airbeds are over. Middle to upper-tier beds today come with incredibly efficient pumps that not only pump air into the chambers but also draw it out. This makes the process much easier and faster than ever before. The built-in pump often includes features like automatic deflation, which allows you to simply press a button and let the pump do the work. They also allow you to easily control the amount of pressure inside the mattress, allowing you to find the perfect level of firmness.

Electric pumps turn an otherwise time-consuming task into a huge benefit. You can easily deflate and pack the mattress away, giving your home extra space. And since most electric air pumps work silently, you won’t even know that they’re there.

Checklist for the Ideal Air Mattress

Ready to purchase your long-term or permanent air mattress? To ensure you come home with a good air mattress, make sure it checks off all these items:

  • Can stay filled with air for long periods
  • Size fits where you need to sleep
  • Comfortable material on top
  • Resistant to tearing
  • Additional accessories like headboard or mattress topper

These are our top recommendations and qualifications for a good air mattress.

If you’re looking for more specific recommendations on what brand to buy, some of the highest-rated and best-known brands include Intex, Neverflat, SoundAsleep, or Insta-Bed. You can typically find all of these brands available from retailers like Amazon. You can also check out our list of the Best Air Mattresses in Australia here.

FAQs 

Conclusion

Can you sleep on an air mattress every night? Of course, you can! As long as you consider your spinal alignment and aren’t waking up on the floor every morning due to air loss, there’s nothing that should be keeping you from at least trying to sleep on an air mattress long-term.

Not only are these mattresses affordable, but they’re also incredibly affordable and can be just as comfortable as a regular bed when bought with care and spruced up with a few extra accessories.

Use our recommendations and checklist for a good air mattress to ensure you make the right purchasing decision – and sweet dreams.

Article Sources

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  2. Yu, H., Shin, O. S., Kim, S., & Park, C. (2020). Effect of an inflatable air mattress with variable rigidity on sleep quality. Sensors, 20(18):5317. https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/20/18/5317
  3. Okamoto, K., Iizuka, S., & Okudaira, N. (1997). The effects of air mattress upon sleep and bed climate. Applied Human Science, 16(3):97-102. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/ahs/16/3/16_3_97/_article
  4. Radwan, A., Fess, P., James, D., et al., (2015). Effect of different mattress designs on promoting sleep quality, pain reduction, and spinal alignment in adults with or without back pain; systematic review of controlled trials. Sleep health, 1(4):257-267. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352721815001400
  5. Li, X., Shen, L., & Califano, R. (2020). The comparative study of thermal comfort and sleep quality for innovative designed mattress in hot weather. Science and Technology for the Built Environment, 26(5):643-657. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23744731.2020.1720445
  6. Bader, G. G., & Engdal, S. (2000). The influence of bed firmness on sleep quality. Applied ergonomics, 31(5):487-497. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11059462/
Bree Taylor - Lead Editor

Lead Editor

Bree is an interior designer with a passion for helping people improve their sleep quality.

She specializes in creating comfortable and functional bedroom spaces that promote a good night’s rest.

When she’s not testing mattresses or helping people get the best rest possible, Bree loves to travel and explore new cultures.

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