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If an air mattress has any single advantage over other mattresses, it's adjustability. Air mattresses can be adjusted for firmness depending on how much air you put into them. Many air mattress beds now have built-in air pumps that allow you to adjust firmness easily and precisely.
The main reason why air mattresses are so comfortable is that they don't use coils to support the sleeper. The air mattress uses air pressure, so the support is uniform across the sleep surface. Many people find it harder to sleep on an uneven surface caused by coiled springs, because they keep shifting positions trying to find a balance between their pressure area—shoulders, hips, elbows, etc.--and the pressure points caused by the mattress. An air mattress bed needs only to be adjusted for firmness, which is distributed evenly across the bed and through the night.
Many people are introduced to the idea of an air mattress in the outdoors, either through toy vinyl air mattresses on the pool or the more robust air mattress beds used in camping. And while the camping air mattress is still found in many backpacks, the air mattress is really gaining popularity in Rvs and boats. Because of their light weight, they can reduce your total load. Also, some air mattress manufacturers now offer custom sizes, so you can have air mattresses made to order to exactly fit your boat or RV.
An adjustable air mattress is great for fine-tuning the comfort of a bed, but what about your sleep partner? Double- and full-size air mattresses are now available that use separate dual air cells to allow each sleep partner to adjust their side of the air mattress bed to the firmness they want.
An air mattress provides a gentler and more consistent sleep surface, so an air mattress bed is often a good choice if you wake up with back or neck pain. Make sure the air mattresses you consider buying are sufficiently “deep” that you don't “bottom out”. Four inches in depth is probably about the thinnest you can get away with, depending on your body weight and the amount of “give” you want in an adjustable air mattress. A thicker mattress—say, about seven inches—will give you plenty of leeway if you want a softer mattress.
If you are thinking about buying an air mattress, you're probably wondering about durability. After all, air mattresses are a lot like a balloon, right? Well, for one thing, a quality adjustable air mattress cannot be overinflated. These air mattress beds have automatic shutoff valves that sense when the air chamber is full and will cut off the flow of air. This keeps the air mattress from excess stress caused by overinflation.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|