Use a Mattress Topper on an Air Mattress – Increase Comfort with Our Tips/Tricks
Our ancestors slept on a simple bed made of grass and leaves, 77,000 years ago, according to this article from ScienceMag. Nowadays, we can literally sleep on air. Air mattresses can be used by almost everyone, and they can save the day when a surprise guest arrives. However, some people may find them too firm, cold, or noisy. Fortunately, transforming an air bed into a comfy place for sleeping and relaxing does not require huge effort. This article will teach how to use a mattress topper on an air mattress to make it more comfortable.
To use a mattress topper on an air mattress and make it more comfortable, first choose the right mattress topper, then use a fitted sheet over the mattress topper and use bed sheet suspenders, double sided carpet tape, or a slip resistance mat to hold the topper in place.
All that is needed to transform even the most basic air mattress into a comfortable (or even a luxurious) sleeping experience is a mattress topper. Add some fresh sheets, plump pillows, and other choice bedding to transform an ordinary bed into a great bed that no one would want to leave. Read our “Ultimate list of guest bed ideas for different rooms” to discover unique ways to create a welcoming space for your overnight guests.
What is a Mattress Topper?
A mattress topper is one layer of the modern well-made bed. In most cases, mattress toppers are the inexpensive and smart choice to add more comfort and support to any type of mattress.
A mattress topper is a layer added on top of a mattress. Thicker than a mattress pad, mattress toppers are generally used to change the way the mattress feels, either by adding firmness or softness to a mattress. Using a mattress topper will also extend the lifespan of the mattress.
Mattress toppers can improve the overall characteristics of the mattress to provide better quality sleep. If the mattress is too firm, a softer mattress topper can soften it up. If the mattress is too soft, a firmer, more supportive mattress topper can provide extra stability. Depending on the materials used in manufacturing the mattress topper, it can also make a hot mattress cooler or a cold mattress warmer. Toppers can improve ventilation and air flow, and even reduce nighttime sweating. Read our other article on whether you need a mattress topper to help decide whether or not to buy one.
If you've decided to put a sofa bed in your guest bed room instead of an air mattress, you can use a mattress topper on a sofa bed to make it more comfortable as well!
Can You Put a Mattress Topper on an Air Mattress?
Mattress toppers have become a familiar add-on for a conventional mattress, but should one be added to an inflatable air mattress?
A mattress topper can be placed on an air mattress to make it warmer, cooler, softer or firmer.
Mattress toppers can be used on virtually any mattress, but they can make the biggest difference to an air mattress more than any other type of mattress because of the extra support and stability they offer. Our article on the mattress topper hack goes into great depth about using mattress toppers. We also cover the different types of toppers available, and their benefits in another article.
Benefits of Using a Mattress Topper on an Air Mattress
A mattress topper can make any mattress softer (or more supportive) and more comfortable, and using one on an air mattress is no different. There are, however, benefits unique to using a mattress topper on an air mattress.
The benefits of using a mattress topper on an air mattress are that you can warm up a cold air mattress, cool down a sweaty hot air mattress, get rid of annoying air mattress noises, and protect the air mattress from accidental surface punctures.
Just like using a mattress topper on any kind of mattress, adding a mattress topper to an air mattress can make it softer and more comfortable. Some air mattresses can feel too flat and firm when they are fully inflated, so a mattress topper adds that missing softness. Others may find an air mattress doesn’t provide the right kind of support, so a mattress topper can add that targeted cushioning.
Beyond helping to make a mattress feel “just right,” a mattress topper can significantly improve the sleeping qualities of an air mattress in specific ways.
Is Your Air Mattress Too Cold? Can a Mattress Topper on an Air Mattress Warm It Up?
Air mattresses can often feel cold, especially as the night wears on, and the temperature of the air inside the air mattress drops to match the floor (or ground) and surrounding air.
Using a mattress topper on an air mattress that's too cold can keep the bed warm and comfortable. A mattress topper can insulate the body from the cold surface of the air mattress and maintain and retain heat.
Preventing an air mattress from getting too cold starts with where it is positioned. Setting up an air mattress on a carpet, mat, or even an emergency blanket, rather than on a bare floor, will help keep the air in the mattress from transmitting the cold up from a cold solid floor. Of course, if the floor is heated, that won't be a concern.
However, what really makes the biggest difference in warming up a cold air mattress is adding the right mattress topper. Wool is well known for its special warmth even when there is dampness. Memory foam is also known for its heat retention, not always an advantage but a real benefit when used with an air mattress. Fiber-filled or latex toppers are also good options for adding warmth to an air mattress. Read our article on Tips to fix a mattress protector that’s uncomfortable where we discuss useful ways to regulate and improve the bed temperature while sleeping.
Examples of Mattress Toppers That Will Help if Your Air Mattress is Too Cold
|Product||How this mattress topper increases warmth||Price|
|Sleep & Beyond MyPad Wool Mattress Pad||Breathable, with natural air pockets that hold heat, even in damp conditions |
Regulates body temperature to keep cool in summer and warm in winter
|Weekender Memory Foam Mattress Pad||Open-cell memory foam holds heat |
Regulates sleeping temperature
|Pure Green 100% Natural Latex Mattress Topper||Holds heat in natural pores |
Can Using a Mattress Topper On an Air Mattress Reduce Squeakiness?
Many of the more common complaints about air mattresses, especially cheaper ones, are the noises they sometimes make when a person moves around on them.
Adding a mattress topper onto an air mattress can reduce the squeakiness of some air mattresses by increasing padding, reducing friction and movement on the mattress surface, and eliminating the squeaky noises.
Most air mattresses are made of PVC or other polymer, but that doesn’t mean sleeping on a rubber balloon. Most modern air mattresses have flocked top and bottom surfaces (sometimes all sides). The manufacturer has made an attempt at reducing the sound problems that air mattresses are known for. We like the velvet top on this air mattress.
If the air mattress is noisy, there are several things that can be done to silence it. For a noisy bottom surface, place the air mattress on a rug or carpet. However, most of the disturbing noise will be produced by the upper surface, from the movement and friction of the sleeper's body. For that, the best solution is adding a good mattress topper that will absorb the movements, create a barrier between the body and the air mattress, and provide acoustic absorption. Movement-absorbing foam mattress toppers like this one from amazon are a great choice, but any thick mattress topper will make a difference.
Will a Mattress Topper Prevent an Air Mattress From Deflating?
All air mattresses tend to deflate, even over the course of a single day. Air volume depends on temperature, which means the air mattress that was full at noon will seem slightly less plump in the middle of the night when the temperature has dropped.
A mattress topper won't prevent an air mattress from gradually deflating because every air mattress will lose air volume. A mattress topper won’t keep the air inside the air mattress from cooling down and shrinking, however, a mattress topper will help provide a protective barrier against accidental punctures of the mattress top, and prevent rapid deflating. The sides can still be vulnerable to sharp objects, so keep sharp objects away from them too.
Every air mattress will deflate gradually over time. This is why checking the inflation of an air mattress is part of regular maintenance. The air is likely to need to be topped up every couple of days, or even daily. This happens because air contracts as it cools, especially at night—and consequently loses volume and pressure. Secondly, the inlet/outlet valve cannot be made 100% airtight. It will eventually leak air, even if it is only tiny amounts. Small amounts of air leakage eventually add up to a sinking air mattress.
Also, when folding and storing an air mattress, this may create micro punctures that slowly leak air. Mattress toppers are not the solution for this. What is needed is a silent secondary pump. Its function is to keep the air bed inflated at a certain pressure. Here’s an air mattress with a secondary pump built in.
On the other hand, a mattress topper will definitely work as a barrier against most accidental punctures of the top of the air mattress. The thicker and denser the mattress topper, the more protective it will be. Have a look at our article about mattress topper size and thickness to find out more about mattress topper density and thickness.
How to Choose a Mattress Topper for an Air Mattress
The criteria for choosing a mattress topper for an inflatable mattress are the same as for choosing a topper for any other mattress. Choosing a mattress topper for an air mattress will depend primarily on what qualities are desired from the topper. A mattress topper can increase softness or add firmer support to an air mattress.
When choosing a mattress topper for an air mattress it’s important to decide on the type of air circulation and ventilation, as well as the warmth or coolness needed for a good night’s sleep.
All the potential benefits of adding a topper to a traditional mattress also apply to an air mattress. Different kinds of mattress toppers made of different materials will offer different benefits, so choose one that matches specific needs. For example, memory foam adapts to the body shape and is great for motion isolation. Both latex and memory foam offer extra cushioning for pressure points, but memory foam tends to retain heat, while latex foam is great for staying cool. For more information about memory foam read our article on gel vs. memory foam mattress toppers.
- Mattress toppers for hospital beds sometimes include ballasts that can distribute pressure in a target-specific way. These can also work with air mattresses.
- Simple steps to make a comfortable truck camping bed
Choosing the Material for a Mattress Topper to Use on an Air Mattress
Mattress toppers are made from a wide range of materials, everything from bamboo to polyester fiber to silk, and from polyfoam to natural latex. Choose the material of a mattress topper according to the qualities wanted in a bed. Determine if a softer or firmer sleeping surface is desired and choose the appropriate material for that type of support. The correct material in a mattress topper can solve a number of issues from too cold, to too hot, a sweaty or clammy mattress, or a noisy or poorly ventilated mattress. Some materials will address an issue better than others, and we will cover those materials in the next few topics.
Choose a memory foam mattress topper to make an air mattress warmer or to make it softer. A wool or cotton mattress topper will cool down an air mattress. A latex foam mattress topper will make an air mattress firmer.
A topper made of latex can make an air mattress firmer or provide zones of varying firmness for pressure points or posture and alignment. Read our article “Tips to choose a mattress topper for a side sleeper” where we discuss the specific support mattress toppers offer for side sleeping positions. In contrast, a mattress topper made of cotton or poly fiberfill will make an air mattress softer but won’t provide much in the way of support. Both can be good for proper air circulation.
Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Some air mattresses tend to be hot in summer—especially in hot regions—as the air inside the mattress will absorb heat from the floor or ground and from the surrounding environment. Some people use a mattress topper made of memory foam because it is famous for giving the feel of "sleeping on cloud" but might experience it as being too hot because memory foam is also known for retaining heat. The solution is to get a mattress topper made of memory foam that has gel infused into it. The gel particles in the foam are designed to dissipate heat faster, so it encourages a cooler sleeping environment. We recommended this Lucid memory foam topper from Amazon because it comes in 2-inch or 3-inch thicknesses.
Down-Alternative Filled Mattress Topper
An air mattress has an inherent problem, because it is made of PVC or other air-tight materials—the irony of an air mattress is it doesn’t breathe and has no ventilation at all.
One easy solution is to get a topper made of a down– or feather– alternative. They are light and breathable, allowing air to naturally flow through. They can give an air mattress the ventilation it doesn't normally have. We like this Lucid 4 gel memory foam topper with down from Amazon because it is three toppers in one and is hypoallergenic.
Latex Mattress Topper
Latex mattress toppers can give great cushioning for a sleeper's pressure points. This is good for someone who finds the surface of an air mattress uncomfortable because it is too flat or too firm. Natural latex is also heat neutral with great ventilation, making it an excellent all-seasons option for hot and cold sleepers alike. Natural latex is a good choice for those who prefer to sleep directly on naturally sourced or hypoallergenic materials. This natural latex mattress topper from Amazon ticks all the right boxes for comfort and allergy prevention.
Should You Choose a Two-Inch or Three-Inch Thick Mattress Topper for an Air Mattress?
The thickness of the mattress topper that is added to an air mattress will depend on the inherent comfort of the air mattress, how much change to the way it feels is desired, and what materials the topper is made of.
Choose a two-inch mattress topper to make an air mattress feel softer. For more plush cushioning, choose a three-inch thick mattress topper. Some mattress topper materials are more dense and will have varying softness even if they have the same thickness.
Choosing a mattress topper for an air mattress is just like choosing the same topper for a traditional mattress. The essential rule is that the thicker the topper, the more it will change the qualities of the underlying mattress. To get more cushioning or more firmness, choose a thicker mattress topper. A two-inch mattress topper should be enough to soften up most air mattresses. However, if the air mattress is too firm to sleep on, choose a three-inch thick topper. Once you use a mattress topper thicker than 3 inches, you change the feel of the air mattress completely. For example, this gel memory foam topper which is 4 inches thick will greatly enhance comfort and ventilation, while allowing you to sleep cool on your air mattress.
You can also select a mattress topper that has more targeted zones of support to provide better alignment or more relief for specific pressure points.
How to Prevent a Mattress Topper From Sliding on an Air Mattress
After selecting a mattress topper to top off an air mattress, some people discover one of the biggest annoyances of using an air bed—they find out that, because air mattresses are made of airtight inflatable materials, bedding and toppers can often slip around on the top.
To prevent a mattress topper from sliding around on top of the air mattress, use deep fitted sheets, bed sheet straps, carpet tape, or a non-slip mat to securely position the mattress topper on top of the air mattress.
Most manufacturers make their air mattresses with upper and lower flocked surfaces. This surface is supposed to be rough enough to help prevent bedding like toppers from sliding on the airbed. If the air mattress doesn’t have flocking or the mattress topper keeps shifting on the air mattress, there are a few solutions to reduce the movement. Use the tips in our other article to fix a mattress topper that keeps sliding off to further secure a shifting mattress topper. If you're still having trouble keeping your mattress topper in place, we've expanded on the topic to bring you even more ideas on how to hold down a mattress topper. Make sure to check those out too!
Tip 1. Use a Fitted Sheet Over the Mattress Topper and Air Mattress
A deep fitted sheet that fits snugly over both the topper and the air mattress may be enough to prevent the topper from moving. These extra deep pocket sheets from Amazon are perfect for keeping the mattress topper and air mattress together during sleep. If a deep enough fitted sheet to contain both the air mattress and topper at once isn’t at hand, tightly fold a large flat bed sheet around both and tuck it under the mattress to hold the topper and mattress together.
Tip 2. Hold the Mattress Topper in Place With Bed Sheet Suspenders
Sheet suspenders are elastic straps that can be attached to a mattress pad or topper. These straps are then wrapped around the air mattress and clipped underneath it to keep the topper or pad firmly in place. These bed bands from Amazon have a unique cord lock that offers tension adjustment to secure the bed sheets under the mattress.
Tip 3. Add Double-Sided Carpet Tape Between the Mattress Topper and the Air Mattress
Double-sided carpet tape is a common solution for holding carpets to the floor to keep them from slipping. It can also be used to hold a mattress topper in position. Using carpet tape along the edges, between the air mattress and topper, will keep them fixed in position.
Warning: Be aware before choosing this solution that the carpet tape adhesive may damage surfaces and may require special solvents to remove. This should not be considered an overnight solution that will allow easy removal of the topper. In fact, if the bond is too strong, it may damage the airtight membrane of the air mattress when it is removed. If this is the only available option, then carefully choose a good quality carpet tape. This carpet tape from Amazon boasts no residue for those concerned about potentially damaging their air mattresses.
Tip 4. Put a Slip-Resistant Mat Between the Mattress Topper and Air Mattress
This is likely the best solution of all to fix a slipping mattress topper on an air mattress. Simply lay the thin non-slip mat over the air mattress then put the topper over it. That's it! It will keep the topper firmly in place. The topper can be removed at any time, with no glue residues to worry about. The mat can be trimmed to an exact fit for any air mattress. And it stores easily. We like this Gorilla Grip pad from Amazon because it comes in many different sizes.
Products That Can Stop a Mattress Topper From Sliding on an Air Mattress
|Product||How It Prevents a Mattress Topper From Sliding on an Air Mattress||Price|
|Bare Home Fitted Bottom Sheet||Elasticized to fit snugly over a topper and mattress up to 15 inches deep||~$15|
|RayTour Bed Sheet Holder Straps||Adjustable elastic straps that clip to bedding and wrap tight under the air mattress||~$10|
|Kraftex Double-Sided Carpet Tape||Adhesive tape to "glue" the topper onto the air mattress||~$20|
|Gorilla Grip Mattress Gripper Pad||Non-slip pad for use between the topper and the air mattress||~$20|
Everyone Can Use an Air Mattress With a Mattress Topper
Inflatable beds have come a long way in recent years and will, no doubt, continue to improve. In fact, airbeds now range all the way from the most basic camping air mattress to the sophisticated technology of a medical air bed that can be custom adjusted for individual pressure points and for avoiding problems like bed sores. To learn more about the benefits of medical grade air mattresses designed to minimize bed sores for people with limited mobility, visit Medrica, a manufacturer of medical products, including air beds.
For most, an air mattress might not replace a more traditional bed but, for others, the ability to adjust the firmness of the mattress through the amount of inflation can be a real benefit. An air mattress is a terrific option for the guest room, surprise sleepovers, or traveling. Whatever the case, adding the right mattress topper can transform any air mattress into a comfortable sleeping experience, so that anyone can take advantage of the convenience an air mattress offers. To find out more about taking care of mattress toppers so they last longer, read our article on how to use a mattress topper and clean a mattress topper.