Air mattresses have evolved significantly since the days when the difference between one meant for sleeping and one meant for the swimming pool were nearly indistinguishable. The rise in popularity of air systems with customized firmness settings and foam padding and support encasing the air bladder underneath have changed the options available on the sleep shop floor. However, there are a number of common problems still associated with air mattresses.
Leaks and Punctures
Unlike a traditional innerspring mattress, air mattresses rely on the air trapped inside to provide comfort and support for the sleeper. If the material develops a leak or gets punctured, the air will escape and the mattress will become useless. Sitting on the mattress with a key ring attached to your belt could be enough to puncture some air mattress materials. Pets that like to jump on beds could also cause a puncture with their toenails.
Air mattresses are less complex than many other types of beds, and in order to compete with the other products on the market, the manufacturers often add perceived value to the mattresses in the form of unnecessary features. While features like elaborate pump systems and foam support and comfort materials may do very little to increase the true value of the bed, they do a lot to inflate the price. The consumer pays for all of these added features that may not necessarily add much value to the bed.
With automatic pumps to inflate portable air mattresses, inflating them takes very little time. Unfortunately, it takes considerable time to deflate an air mattress and get it folded into a size that can easily go into storage. Some air mattresses do have a reversible electric pump that essentially sucks air out of the mattress.
The heaviest portion of the human body is in the center of the body between the chest and the knees. For this reason, many mattress manufacturers have heavier gauge coils or simply add more coils to the middle portion of the mattress for support. When lying on an air mattress it is not possible to add extra support to the middle; the support distribution is equal. An air mattress will sink in the middle under the pressure from the heaviest part of the body and move the air to the ends where there is less weight. This causes the body to sleep in a bowed position, which can cause lower back pain.
If you sleep in the bed with someone else, you don't want to be disturbed each time they make a move. This is known as motion transfer. Memory foam mattresses took motion transfer down to an almost unnoticeable level. Meanwhile, air mattresses are likely to bounce the sleeper around when the other person moves.