Is an Air Bed Good for Your Back? How Do You Choose The Best One
When a mattress is too soft or too firm it can result in poor sleeping posture and cause muscle tension that can lead to back pain. When it comes to sleeping on an air bed, some people love it and find that it offers adequate support, while others complain about it being too flat and firm. So, if you’re wondering about the answer to “is an air bed good for your back?”, we’ll present you both sides of the coin.
An air bed is good for your back because it offers you more control over its hardness or softness than regular mattresses. Simply add more air if it feels too soft and let out air if it is too hard for you. An air bed can provide comfort, support, and even weight distribution across the surface to relieve pressure on the back, hips, and shoulders.
What Is An Air Bed?
Early air beds go back to the 19th century. They were originally designed as temporary beds known as air mattresses. They were used as guest beds, for camping, or as an interim bed when moving.
An air bed is an inflatable mattress that's usually made from vinyl, plastic, or rubber material and uses air as a means of support. Air tubes running through the mattress allow a user to adjust the amount of air in the mattress to provide adjustable comfort and support.
Earlier air mattresses were not very supportive of neutral spinal alignment, which led to back pain and stiffness. Current air beds are nothing like they used to be. They have adjustable inflation levels, which allow you to customize the firmness of your bed to your liking. Some airbeds still come with a manual pump, some with an electric pump, and some are self-inflating. Read our article on how to use a mattress topper on an air mattress to add an extra level of comfort. Also, make sure you know how to inflate an air bed properly by checking out our step-by-step guide. And finally, our comprehensive guide to air bed benefits will give you tons of additional information.
What Are The Benefits Of Sleeping On An Air Mattress? Ask The Experts!
According to this article from MDPI, air mattresses with variable rigidity can improve sleep quality—especially for those suffering from back pain. An air mattress will gradually sag over time and will start declining to offer you the support you need. Even the best air beds will deflate, but some mattresses like this one include both a primary and secondary pump to prevent the mattress from deflating. Unlike memory foam or innerspring mattresses, an air bed can be filled with air regularly to prevent deflation and changes in sleep posture.
According to sleep researchers, the ability to control the firmness and support of an air mattress positively influences sleep quality. Inflate or deflate an air mattress to change the level of support it provides. However, air beds are not recommended for pregnant women or individuals who are overweight.
Air beds provide optimal firmness, which helps minimize pressure on the back—especially for side sleepers. They allow the pressure points like the hip bone and shoulder to sink into the mattress, limiting the amount of pressure on the back and spine. Even the MayoClinic hospital uses air beds for taking care of patients.
Air beds offer a flat, firm surface that helps keep the back and neck straight unlike conventional mattresses. Sleeping on a flat surface helps maintain a healthy posture while resting, alleviating back pain. You can adjust the firmness of the bed as desired to ensure proper comfort and support. Patients and doctors at the CareCure Community forum recommend certain types of air beds for paraplegics because air beds help control the onset of bedsores.
Many sleepers struggle with having a different comfort preference than their partner. One major complaint about air mattresses is that they transfer motion more than other types of mattresses. The air forms a solid block, and when there is an impact in one area, it transfers across the entire bed. This can make for a rocky experience when sleeping with another person. Some air mattresses feature two separate air chambers that allow you to adjust the firmness of each side separately. An air bed with dual-zone technology and pressure control may help people who are sharing a bed have different levels of firmness and support. Take a look at this blog post by All Sensors, a manufacturer of pressure sensors for air beds.
Sleeping on a mattress with a firmness level that does not suit your sleeping position can aggravate back problems. Fortunately, you can adjust the firmness of air beds by changing the amount of air inside to support the spine in all sleeping positions. If you are a back sleeper, a medium-firm mattress will be best for you. Read our article on using a mattress topper to enhance your mattress for back support if this is your preferred sleeping position.
Summary of the benefits and disadvantages of air beds
|Air Bed Benefits For Your Back||Air Bed Disadvantages (When It Comes To Your Back)|
|Air beds are inflatable and adjustable to suit different needs and preferences. Adjustable air beds are good for your back.||Air beds can transfer motions across the entire sleeping surface, which can be uncomfortable if you are sharing the bed with someone else.|
|They offer a flat, firm sleeping surface to ensure an even weight distribution||Some air beds tend to sag quickly at your pressure points, resulting in back pain.|
|Air Beds support proper spine alignment|
You may also be interested in our related article comparing air beds vs. waterbeds to see what the differences are. Make sure to check it out too!
Choosing An Air Mattress That’s Good For Your Back
The perfect blend of comfort and support allows you to get rejuvenating sleep. However, searching for the best air mattress for your back can be challenging, especially when there are two people involved. Many sleepers struggle with having different comfort requirements from their partner while others may have a difficult time finding a level of comfort that feels just right.
When choosing an air mattress that is good for the back, select an air mattress that has vertical chambers and a convenient pump. Choose an air mattress made of durable materials that has the right surface texture so that it feels soft and comfortable but is also durable for long-term use.
If you have back pain and are looking for an air mattress that helps you sleep better you need to consider the construction of your air mattress, as it is a very important factor in determining the level of comfort and support of the sleeping surface. This durable PVC air mattress has a flocked surface that prevents the bedsheets from shifting during the night. The best air mattress should deflate gradually over time to support and maintain the natural curvature of your spine regardless of your different sleeping positions.
Tip 1. Choose An Air mattress With Vertical Air Chambers
Some air mattresses are made with horizontal air chambers. However, the best air mattresses are designed with large numbers of vertical air chambers. When you lie on the bed, the chambers with the most pressure exerted on them will sink more than the chambers with less pressure. This arrangement of air chambers allows your pressure points such as the hips and shoulders to sink in, maintaining the spine’s natural curvature and preventing back pain.
Tip 2. Choose An Air Mattress With A Convenient Pump
Even the best air mattresses will deflate over time, some more quickly than others. Fortunately, you can still pump up the mattress pressure to maintain a healthy body posture during sleep. Some models allow you to adjust the level of air within the mattress manually, while others take customization to the next level with what we call a secondary pump, like this air mattress from Amazon. The secondary pump automatically inflates your bed when it detects a loss of air pressure to ensure that all the areas of the body are getting proper support at all times. This is a great option for sleepers with ailments such as backaches.
Tip 3. Choose a Durable Air Mattress
Air mattresses are usually made from vinyl, plastic, or rubber material, all of which can be rolled up or folded to neatly stow away. Choose light and durable materials so they can easily be moved by one person, taken from room to room, stored for occasional use, or taken on a camping trip without injuring your back. It is also important that the air mattress stays intact and in a good condition for as long as possible for optimal back support. This durable air mattress has a laminated construction and is puncture resistant.
You might also find interest in our guide to air bed valve replacement to help extend the life of your air bed too.
Tip 4. Choose A Different Air Mattress for Temporary vs. Permanent Use
There are two main air mattress types—temporary or permanent. A permanent air mattress allows you to choose your own level of inflation and have supporting compartments that feel like a real bed. A temporary air mattress is lighter, smaller, and more compact when compared to a permanent air mattress. A mattress like this camping air mattress is a great option for children and young adults, as they tend to be more flexible and can get by with less support. For a more permanent air mattress, consider a Herculite or one from this medical bed distributor.
If you're interested in camping, make sure to take a look at our simple steps to make a comfortable truck camping bed as well.
How to Make any Air Bed More Comfortable
Tip 1.Choose the Best Inflation Level
You can make your air bed more comfortable in several ways, one of which is to customize the inflation level. By choosing the suitable firmness of your mattress, you can get a better night’s sleep with no morning body aches. Keep adjusting the level of air within the mattress until all the areas of your body are getting proper support.
Tip 2. Reinflate Regularly
Air beds deflate over time. Therefore, they need to be reinflated regularly especially if you don't want to hurt your back. You need to keep the same inflation level that keeps your back neutral and makes you comfortable. That's why you need to regularly check if there is any sagging and then reinflate the mattress.
Tip 3. Use a Mattress Topper
This is a very important element that can enhance the mattress. Adding an extra layer of cushioning can give you a comfy feeling during sleeping. Toppers are usually made of foam and other supporting materials. They can reduce the pressure on your back and make you more comfortable. Read our article about choosing a mattress topper when camping for more tips to increase comfort on air mattresses and other portable beds. You will also find more tips and tricks on how to increase comfort by using a mattress topper on an air mattress in another one of our related articles too. So make sure to check it out!
You also might find interest in our comprehensive guide to air mattress weight limits to ensure you purchase the right air bed for your needs. So make sure to check that out too.