Common Air Bed Dangers and How to Fix Them
Air beds are popular for camping because of their convenience and comfort. They provide a portable way to get a good night’s sleep, so campers can be well-rested for the next day’s adventures. But could an air bed be a good option to use on a long-term basis at home? Can they offer the support and comfort that a person needs for a regular night's sleep? We discuss common air bed dangers and how to fix them in this article.
Common air bed dangers may include explosive bursts, infant death or suffocation, back pain due to improper firmness, potential toxicity due to materials, difficulty sharing the air bed due to firmness, temperature regulation, and lack of neck and spine support.
So, let's talk about the dangers of sleeping on an air bed long-term -- and the solutions to those problems.
Common Air Bed Dangers - Frequently Asked Questions
The most commonly voiced concerns of air bed use are whether it can burst, its temperature, and whether an air bed is detrimental to spine and neck health.
Question 1. Can an Air Mattress Burst?
Unfortunately, yes, an air bed can burst, particularly if the bed is an inexpensive mattress with a single air chamber that has been kept near a flammable aerosol. Intex, a manufacturer of air beds, says that explosive bursting is much less common than small air leaks that cause slower deflation and it is possible to protect your air bed from further damage. Take a look at the image below. Here are instructions on how to fix an air bed that leaks. One important thing is to always protect it from sharp objects that can cause a puncture. You can also invest in a mattress platform to lift your air bed off the floor. In particular, you should be careful not to overinflate the bed because that can make it burst. Also, check the air mattress regularly for leaks. When you notice a leak or tear, patch it before it becomes a bigger issue.
If you're trying to troubleshoot your air mattress, make sure to take a look at what to do if an air bed is not inflating for some additional information. Alternatively, you might be interested in a different solution... buying a sleeping pad instead. Make sure you do some research to answer the question, air bed vs sleeping pad to find more information.
Question 2. Can You Control Air Mattress Temperature?
Temperature regulation is very important for a healthy night's sleep. The synthetic materials such as plastic, latex, etc. that air beds are usually made of, can not breathe. This means that heat can be trapped around the sleeper. Conversely, cold air inside the mattress will stay cold. The solution is to not rely on the mattress itself for temperature regulation. Instead, add a temperature-regulating mattress topper. There are a large variety of temperature-regulating mattress toppers available. See our article on tips to fix an air bed that is cold.
Question 3. Are Air Beds Dangerous for the Spine and Neck?
Over time, air beds can be dangerous for the spine and neck, if they are not properly designed and inflated to keep the body aligned. Read our article about the benefits of using an air bed. Selecting the right air bed is really simple - if you invest in a good quality air bed that has well-designed firmness features, you should not have any reason to worry about this potential issue. Also, you should know the costs involved when purchasing an air bed, be sure to read our complete guide to air bed costs for more detailed information.
Dangers of Sleeping On an Air Mattress and How to Fix Them
Air beds can be a great option for sleeping on, not just on camping trips, but also for guests, sleepovers, and other recreational outings. Just be sure to use the correct air bed for your particular outing, or needs.
To avoid the common dangers of sleeping on an air mattress long term, check the seams and any leaks, do not allow an infant to sleep on the air bed, have optimal firmness to avoid back pain, make sure to air out the air mattress so smells disperse. Also, use a barrier over the mattress that can regulate body temperature and provide a comfortable cover.
If you would like to use an air bed for longer periods of time, check out our article on useful tips and tricks for air bed long-term use. However, this might not be the safest choice, for the following reasons:
Danger 1. Air Beds Should Not Be Used for Infants Under 15 Months Old.
Without realizing the danger it can pose, many parents put their babies to sleep on an inflatable surface. Even though an air bed doesn’t look like a dangerous surface, babies can easily suffocate on the mattress. An air mattress surface is uneven, soft, and impermeable which can pose many different suffocation risks, including the risk of sudden infant death. To learn more about how to keep your baby comfortable and safe while sleeping, check out this research article about cosleeping and biological imperatives, from the University of Notre Dame.
Unfortunately, air mattresses are very affordable so those on a tight budget could be tempted to buy them. You can find the cheapest inflatable mattress for around $20. However, infants under the age of 15 months should not be put to sleep on an inflatable air mattress. This problem cannot be fixed so you should consider buying this crib for your infant to sleep in.
Make sure to check out our complete guide to air bed alternatives for additional options for your infant.
Danger 2. Sleeping on an Air Bed Long-term May Cause Back Pain, So Make Sure the Bed is Filled to Your Desired Firmness.
Unfortunately, back pain is common. People spend a lot of time sitting in their offices or at the computer and they do not walk around and exercise enough. To learn more about discomfort from sitting for long periods, check out this research article about back pain from the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.
A poor-quality air bed does not offer adequate support, and sleeping on one means that your spine will be out of alignment, influencing the quality of your sleep. To learn more about how air mattresses can cause back pain, check out this research article from ScienceDirect.
How to fix this problem?
First, when you are buying an air mattress, make sure to check the comfort features of the bed. If you are planning to use it for a long time, be sure that the support and comfort it provides will meet your needs. A Coleman SupportRest air bed offers extra support over longer periods of time.
One of the benefits of air beds is the ability to fill them to the desired firmness using a pump or other methods mentioned in our article about how to inflate an air bed. Regularly checking that the air mattress is firm enough to give you optimal support, is your first line of defense against back pain. Various air bed models also include controls to easily adjust the firmness while you’re lying on them. Some air beds even regulate firmness automatically, while others have areas with different levels of firmness to provide better support for different parts of the body or different users.
Danger 3. Some Air Mattresses Can Be Toxic, So Check What Material it is Made of Before Purchasing.
According to SavvyRest, a mattress manufacturer, synthetic mattresses can off-gas toxic chemicals for a short amount of time. The PVC that air mattresses are commonly made of, can be toxic due to the chemical substances used to manufacture them. Some people can experience different problems from the release of these chemicals over time, such as headaches, increased heart rate, and tingling of the body’s extremities.
How Can This Problem Be Fixed?
PVC material is vinyl plastic. When you’re buying an air bed, check what material it is made of before purchasing. For instance, there is TPU, thermoplastic polyurethane, as used in this microfiber air bed, that is made with a hard plastic and soft silicone which will not affect your health. Some customers still don’t like the smell of TPU (you can see them in the reviews) but the majority of customers prefer TPU over PVC.
Fortunately, the industry has been working hard to produce eco-friendly air beds. Therefore, you can now even find eco-friendly PVC air beds. This means that the bed is phthalate-free and won't harm your health. Always check the tags when you are buying an air bed and make sure that the materials it is made of won't be dangerous for your health.
Danger 4. It May Be Difficult to Share an Air Bed With Your Partner, so Buy an Air Mattress with Separate Firmness Controls.
If you sleep with a partner, some air beds won’t be a good option for sleeping on, for a long time. If you buy a cheap air bed, your partner is probably going to feel every move you make during the night. When two people sleep on the same inexpensive air mattress, neither of them will have a good night's sleep.
How Can This Problem Be Fixed?
There are two ways to solve this problem. One is by purchasing a high-quality air mattress. Some top air mattresses even have separate firmness controls for each user’s side of the mattress. Because each side is filled separately, motion transfer is minimized. Read our article about air mattress weight limits for advice on this.
The second way to solve this problem is by using a good-quality mattress topper. A mattress topper provides an extra layer of cushioning and support for both users as well as absorbing one person’s movement so that it won’t disturb the other person. It can also help with temperature regulation, especially when one person sleeps “hot” and the other sleeps “cool”.
Danger 5. Air Beds Do Not Regulate Body Temperature, so Put a Barrier Between You and the Bed’s Surface.
One of the main issues regarding sleeping on an air bed is that regulating your body temperature can be very difficult. The synthetic materials, such as vinyl, that are commonly used for air beds do not “breathe” well. Therefore, there is no way to disperse the heat your body generates through the night.
In addition, the air inside the mattress will match the temperature of the surrounding air and floor. If the surrounding temperature is hot, the bed will be hot, and you will probably sweat a lot. On the other hand, if the surrounding environment is cold, the air in the mattress will be cold and make you feel cold too.
How Can This Problem Be Fixed?
The best way to solve both problems is to place a barrier between you and the air bed's surface, by simply using an air mattress sheet. A better solution is a temperature-regulating mattress topper. If you want more info on how to fix a cold air mattress, check out our article.
Danger 6. Air Bed Material Can Feel Unpleasant, so Don’t Sleep Directly on the Mattress.
Some people love their air beds because the inflation can be adjusted to provide the perfect firmness for their needs. However, many people find the air bed surface material unpleasant to sleep on because they are usually made from airtight synthetics. To improve the slipperiness of the material, many air beds have a flocked surface that won’t stick to the body. However, this doesn’t feel as nice as the fabric padding of a conventional mattress.
How Can This Problem Be Fixed?
Don’t sleep directly on the air mattress. You can always find some high-quality sheets and pillows to keep you comfortable. For the extra touch, you can spritz the sheets with a linen spray before you use them to help you relax even more. To make it feel more like you are sleeping on a conventional bed, add a mattress topper.
Danger 7. An Air Bed May Not Be as Comfortable to Use as a Traditional Bed. Check the Firmness Every Few Days and Add a Headboard.
Many air beds are not very comfortable to relax and sleep on because they don’t have the same features as a traditional bed. Over time, an air bed can become saggy and uninviting. Without a bed frame and a headboard, it won’t look nice in your room.
How Can This Problem Be Fixed?
It is normal for air beds to deflate over time, and that can make the bed sag. To maintain a comfortable air bed, check the firmness of the mattress every few days, and re-inflate it regularly using a handy electric pump if the air mattress doesn’t have an internal pump.
One more thing that can make the bed more comfortable is adding a headboard. A headboard doesn’t just serve an aesthetic purpose in the bedroom, it will also keep your pillows and bedsheet in place, which makes the bed more comfortable to use. Also, you’ll have something to lean against when doing certain activities, like reading in bed.