Air Bed Advantages & Disadvantages

Air beds are increasingly common. Global air bed sales are expected to skyrocket, reaching $227.2 million by 2025. I’ve learned there are good and bad aspects to these convenient sleepers.

Air bed advantages include lower cost, space space, portable, and multipurpose, and can use at the beach, pool, camping, or hiking. Disadvantages include health hazards for young children, they don’t last long, they break easily, they stink when new, and they often need to be pumped up or maintained.

Update May 4, 2023: SoundASleep Dream model is on sale for 22% of at Amazon here, with over 51,000 reviews!

First, let’s begin with some disadvantages.

Young children can suffocate on air beds.
While an air bed might seem like a real money-saver to cash-strapped new parents, it is far from a bargain for their young children. Air beds are safe and even fun for school-age children, but you should get a traditional bed for your infant or toddler. Children less than 15 months old can suffocate when on top of an air bed or wedged between an air bed and a bed frame.

They don’t last long.
Many good things in life don’t last for very long, and air beds are no exception. While you can get ten years from a non-air mattress, most air beds will only last a year or two. One of the most generous air bed warranties I’ve seen is for five years. Some things don’t last forever or even over the long haul.

Read my article about if you can/should put one in a car here.

They’re easily broken.
Since air beds must be soft enough to inflate, they’re made from relatively soft materials. Perhaps the most common air bedding fabric is made from polyvinyl chloride or PVC. While hardened PVC used to make pipes might be pretty durable, bedding made from its softer sibling is far from long-lasting. Other popular air bed materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane and microfiber aren’t solid either. The pliability and flexibility that allow for quick inflation mean they are also easily punctured or torn.

Fresh-from-the-box air beds can be much less than fresh smelling.
Although many newer air beds are marketed as low-odor, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any odor. Many more of them smell like miniature chemical plants. Fortunately, this stench wears down over two or three weeks. As you wait for the smell to dissipate, you can always use an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom. This move also makes your bedroom more relaxing, particularly when using lavender or another soothing scent.

They’re noisy.
Unless you have a model that you blow up yourself, air beds are noisy. The air pump that keeps you from exhaling a week’s worth of air in several minutes is loud. Fortunately, inflating an air bed takes only minutes.

You can’t just jump into bed anymore.
While you might relish the feeling of falling into bed at the end of a long day, it’s a pleasure you’ll have to skip if you’re sleeping on an air bed. This is because you need to check the air level each night before climbing into bed. A new model might need topping off in three or four days. Once you’ve slept on it for several months, replenishment might become a daily necessity. This, of course, depends on the model of bed you have. If you can’t bear to part with taking your nightly leap into bed, you might opt for a non-air model or at least carefully consider the reviews before purchasing.

You might end up on the floor anyway.
Despite your best efforts, you might still end up on the floor. Even if you do diligent inflation checks each night, your air bed could still die on you in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t end up on the floor, you might wake up on a much less comfy bed. If you want a better chance at remaining at the same level, consider a model with a continuous air pump that periodically refills the air bed in response to dropping air pressure.

After such a parade of disadvantages, it might seem nearly impossible to believe that air beds have any advantages. I’ve learned this is not the case. I had a large air bed in my home office and have not received any complaints from guests.

Air beds save space.
My air bed saved me quite a bit of space. When I had several guests over, they had comfortable sleeping quarters. After they left, I deflated it and used my home office for bigger and better things like writing this blog post for you.

They make moving in a breeze.
When you’re young and in love, the winding staircase to your tiny fourth-floor apartment doesn’t have to keep you from moving in together. These newlyweds probably would’ve been sleeping on the floor had it not been for the humble air bed.

You can quickly change rooms without changing addresses.
Air beds can be easily deflated and moved to another room in your house. This is helpful if, for example, you have a child who can’t sleep through the noise at night and needs to move to the quieter side of the house. Now, if only I could find you an inflatable dresser and desk to further ease your move.

DIY Glamping is also a Cinch.
Glamping is a modern word that is short for glamorous camping, and it has been quite popular for over a decade. One of the main differences between glamorous camping and regular camping is glamping includes furniture. According to this family, air beds are vital for glamping.

Save on hotel costs.
Sometimes, you just want to get to your vacation destination as soon as possible. Pulling over for a nap is a good idea, but pulling over for a nap on an air bed inside your vehicle is ingenious. Be sure to measure your vehicle carefully so you can select an air bed that fits inside. Without much effort, you can transform a rest stop into a restful retreat and return to the road refreshed.

Beach bums have never had so much fun.
While nothing beats the feel of the tide at your feet, sitting in the sand with just a towel for protection is no fun. An air bed provides a portable, comfortable perch for all your beachside shenanigans. Cover it with a cooling sheet for even more comfort and lounge the day away. Just remember to save me one of those drinks with the little umbrellas. OK?

But floating isn’t always fun for everyone.
As you can see, air beds have a variety of uses. One that might not be fun for all is pranking a friend. This young man pushed his sleeping friend into a nearby lake. Take a look at his friend’s face! If you’re going to try this prank, please choose someone who can swim. Also, stick to lakes or, better yet, swimming pools. Avoid rivers and the ocean due to rapids, undertows, and other strong currents.

Air beds are here to stay. In addition to weighing the disadvantages and advantages, you should carefully read online reviews or get advice from trusted friends. If a particular model doesn’t suit your sleeping needs, you can always use it to have a little fun. Would you consider leaving me a comment about how you’ve used air beds for rest or other more entertaining purposes? I think it would be a lot of fun to trade air bed adventures with you.

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