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Shopping Guide: Air Mattresses
At one point in our lives, movie nights and slumber parties meant three or four cushions on the floor with a blanket thrown on top. You’d easily fall asleep to the sound of movie credits with a bucket of popcorn next to you.
Most likely, that was when you were a kid...when you were nimble and your bones didn’t creak. Try setting cushions up on the floor for a guest at the age of 40, and you’re guaranteed to never see that guest again.
Don’t sacrifice the joy of visitors just because of an uncomfortable sleep setup.
You don’t need to knock out your walls to add a guest bedroom — you just need an air mattress, a pillow, and some blankets.
Get Your Guests Off the Floor
Maybe in college, you could get by with an air mattress that was millimeters from the floor, but when your in-laws are visiting, that doesn’t make the best impression. Not only is the floor not the most appealing place to wake up, but it can also be difficult for older visitors to get into or out of bed when it is so close to the floor.
As you shop for your new air mattress, an important factor to take into consideration is the bed height.
On any air mattress, take a look at their dimensions and take note of the height. For instance, Air Mattress.com’s twin mattress dimensions are 80 x 40 x 18, with 18 inches equating to the height. Even with its smaller sleeping area, it’s still raised 2 ½ feet off the ground.
Air mattresses generally range from 5 inches to 18 inches tall, depending on their classification as raised or not. Of all our top picks, King Koil is the tallest, raising sleepers to 20” off the floor.
If you want a more discreet profile for an air mattress, maybe for tents, lofts, or low clearance areas, take a look at shorter options like the SoundAsleep Camping Series or SoundAsleep Dream Series. You can get by with an 8.5” mattress in a tent, but anything higher and you may find yourself too close to the ceiling.
What Dreams and Air Mattresses are Made of
When you’re eyeing the air mattresses that will give you the most for your dollar, comfort is generally a factor in your search.
Raising guests off the floor does not equate with comfort, but the construction of an air mattress does. It doesn’t matter how high off the ground you are if your bed deflates in the middle of the night or feels like a slab of concrete.
The construction and build of an air mattress can give you a good hint of how your bed will last in terms of its structure and ability to hold its shape.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
The most common material for air mattresses is a type of plastic polymer called PVC. This provides just the right mix of elasticity and impermeability, so the air stays IN the mattress rather than just passing right through it.
PVC is waterproof and easy to maintain. Over time, it may become more and more permeable as the material ages. Some models, like the Serta NeverFlat, address this by incorporating more than one pump. The secondary pump ensures throughout the night the bed maintains its air pressure level so your guests don’t find themselves crumpled on the floor in the morning.
The most notable disadvantage of PVC material is its use of plastics, but most of our top picks have overcome this issue by manufacturing air mattresses made from eco-friendly PVC. If using eco-friendly materials is something that you are concerned with, you’ll want to take note of the materials used in each mattress.
The Elusive “Coil Technology” and What This Means
Your home mattress may have coils within its build (these are the slinky-looking things that make your mattress springy). These coils support your body and distribute your weight evenly so your body doesn’t sink into the mattress.
Coil technology is mimicking this same weight distribution in your air mattress, giving your body more stability.
The way most air mattresses capture this same idea is through air chambers within their frame. Manufacturers isolate air chambers, which help pressurize cylindrical pockets of air. The more internal “coils,” the more chambers and the more evenly distributed your weight will be on the mattress.
This is fancy schmancy wording to say that the more coils, the more comfortable the mattress (usually). With more coil technology, you’ll also find that the price tag increases. For anyone with back issues, you’ll want to prioritize coil technology and other features that may improve the sleeper’s experience like mattress toppers and bedding.
Your Air Mattress, Your Visitors’ Happiness
Whether you’re buying an air mattress for guests or it’s your bed, for the time being, you want to spend money on the bed that won’t cause headaches. From self-inflating beds to low-profile camping series beds, all it takes is a little comparison to find the right fit for you.
Luckily, we’ve taken the guesswork out of what each model is known for, so now it’s up to you to pick out your next air mattress. Compare our top 10 air mattresses, and upgrade your guest sleeping situation today.
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