Skip to Content

9 Dangers of Sleeping on an Air Mattress (Long Term or Permanently)

You’d be surprised to know how long airbeds also known as air mattresses have been around. Long enough to be popularized floating mattresses in the swimming pools and beaches, camping adventures, pajama parties, and other types of sleepovers. However, it’s usually not the first type of mattress you want to buy unless you’re restricted on budget or space. But, are there more drawbacks to air mattresses you may not know about?

Air mattresses made sleeping conveniently for those who live in smaller apartments and don’t feel fazed by sleeping so close to the floor, or on inflated rubber. Many people find it convenient, at least for a short period unless they suffer from severe back pain.

Air mattresses are also popular for children who like to play on the floor and explore new options through different games and scenarios they imagine. But, it’s still up to a debate whether an air mattress should be used for sleeping in the long run and whether there are some dangers related to it.

Although air mattresses got better over time and use improved materials and technology to provide optimal comfort and sleeping experience for consumers regardless if they use temporary or permanently, there are still some red flags and dangers of sleeping on an air mattress.

That being said, we crafted a compelling list that shows all the researched dangers of sleeping on an air mattress. That way, you can inform yourself and if you find it’s too risky for you, you can choose some of the alternatives in the market.

Continue reading to learn more about what should you be aware of when buying an air mattress, and which of these drawbacks can be a potential dealbreaker for you and many others who use an air mattress for the long term.

air mattress in car


9 Dangers of Sleeping on an Air Mattress

While sleeping on an air mattress is good occasionally when you are traveling or camping, certain dangers can either cause discomfort or jeopardize the health of you and your loved ones. Continue reading to learn more!

1. Rupturing or Bursting

One of the biggest dangers of using an air mattress long term is that it can burst or rupture, which can either cause fast deflation or cause an explosion which can make you panic, especially if it occurs in the middle of the night when you’re deep asleep and waking up so abruptly can be bad for your health.

However, it’s worth noting that the chance of a mattress bursting is much smaller compared to the chances 10 or more years ago. People who have the exploding head syndrome could be more prone to being scared if the mattress would suddenly burst.

It usually happens with old mattresses, without a warranty, and not enough air chambers to hold you. It can also happen if you’re overweight and have exceeded the weight limit of the mattress. Another reason why it can burst is due to the presence of flammable aerosol or exposure to fire.

You must be aware that this can happen in a camping environment where tents and beds are placed too close to the fire. Additionally, a floor that is not clean of small branches and thorns can also cause rupturing of the mattress because the branches and other pointy objects could puncture the mattress.

Editor’s notes: Luckily, this scenario is highly preventive, and there are many ways in which you can do that.

  • Don’t put your mattress too close to flammable objects and fire in general.
  • Take proper care and make sure to store your airbed away when you’re not using it, in a safe place.
  • If you’re camping on rough terrain, invest in a mattress platform that you can use to protect your mattress.
  • Use airbed patches in case there is a spot where your mattress is deflating and patch your bed up.

2. Back Pain

The opinions on whether air mattress causes back pain or not are split, and sleep experts often have divided opinions and argue about it. However, there are different models of airbeds. More importantly, these different categories influence the price range of the beds being sold.

That being said, the sub-$200 air mattress is likely to cause you back pain because it’s made of a single layer of horizontal air tubes which gives the sinking sensation and isn’t suitable for heavier people or those looking to add more support to their bedroom.

Alternatively, those who already suffer from chronic back pain would likely benefit from an air mattress with multiple air chambers, vertical tubes, and adjustable, automatic firmness adjustment. That being said, the air mattress should neither be too firm nor too plush in other to keep the spine in a neutral position.

However, such mattresses aren’t easy to find at an affordable price. They are more expensive than others and don’t look like typical airbeds that you would take to your next camping adventure. That being said, it’s not the best idea to use if you have back pain.

While experts argue that air mattresses can cause back pain, some reports like this one encourage sleepers to use air beds as it could help with back pain, but not for everyone.

Editor’s notes: Some adjustable and medical-grade air mattresses may be more suitable for people with back pain, but you can always consult your doctor to see whether some option on the market is more viable for your needs and condition.

Also Read: Are Air Mattresses Bad for Your Back: 6 Tips For Reducing Back Pain While Sleeping

3. Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

One of the most serious risks and dangers of using an air mattress is the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, which usually occurs in infants and babies up to 2 years old. However, as the baby is growing bigger and older, the risk is being reduced.

It happens when the baby suddenly stops breathing and suffocates, and while doctors don’t know the exact cause of this condition, it’s known that sleeping on the side and stomach is more likely to cause that to happen.

That means that being put on an uneven sleep surface, which is bouncy and easy to move on, babies could easily turn over to their stomach or their side and suffocate. The best place to put your baby to sleep in the crib and nowhere else until the baby is 15 months to two years old.

Editor’s notes: Another thing that poses risks for babies even if they are on their back is co-sleeping. Scientists warn about all the risks of placing a baby on an air mattress in this report. Another report stated that airbeds were responsible for more than 100 infant deaths.

Unaware, parents often fall asleep with their babies in the inflatable bed, which can result in unconscious rolling over the baby or restricting their airflow by pressing certain parts of the sleep surface. There are many alternatives to airbeds for babies, you just have to find what suits you and their needs.

4. Materials

Have you ever owned a memory foam mattress and you worried about the fire retardants and other high VOC components and their capabilities to harm your health due to poor processing and manufacturing? Not to mention the off-gassing process that can last for days.

Airbeds aren’t exactly made of natural materials either. If anything, there are a lot of vinyl, polyester, rubber, and other synthetic materials which use various chemical and potentially harmful and toxic materials in the process of manufacturing.

Side effects of exposure to such off-gassing smells, in particular, can cause anything from headaches and dizziness to nausea and serious problems with breathing and sleeping. Things can get even worse if you have asthma and those smells and gases can trigger your asthma attacks.

Editor’s notes: Various materials such as TPU, thermoplastic polyurethane, and other variants of plastic can be potentially harmful. However, using a microfiber bed is better because less processing and chemicals are involved.

The best alternative certainly is an eco-friendly PVC alternative which won’t cause side effects like headaches and elevated blood pressure and heart rate, but it might be slightly more expensive to find.

Also Read: 10 Best Air Mattress in 2023: We Only Recommend The Ones Best For Your Money

5. Motion Transfer

Motion transfer in air mattresses isn’t exactly a cause for concern in terms of your health or any kind of toxicity. However, if you have a sleep partner, and they move a lot, you will feel that too and have difficulties falling and staying asleep.

So, while that doesn’t affect your health directly, it will affect your sleep cycle and cause you to develop insomnia or some simpler form of sleep deprivation.

In the long run, sleep deprivation can jeopardize your health and studies showed that not being able to sleep properly is connected to making poorer eating decisions during the day while the daytime drowsiness can lead to accidents in people who drive or operate dangerous machinery.

Editor’s notes: Getting a mattress topper can solve these problems because memory foam is built in such a way that can slow down the motion transfer. If the motion transfer still feels unbearable airbed isn’t for you in the long run. Instead, you should try your luck with an adjustable split bed.

6. Temperature Regulation

This is another “risk” that is not associated with a serious health problem sleeping on an air mattress. However, just like motion transfer, it can significantly lower the quality of sleep in individuals which in the long term has a consequence of lowering living standards.

The air mattresses have poor temperature regulation despite the air being inside the chambers of the air mattress. The materials from which the mattress is made include polyester, vinyl, rubber, and other synthetic materials that struggle with temperature regulation, leading to less breathability.

People who tend to sweat at the night can also suffer from poor temperature regulation, as they’ll sweat, experience hot flashes, and feel tired the next day. Tossing and turning is never good for sleep, and if it’s done continuously, it can lead to waking up your partner, causing them to lose sleep too.

Editor’s notes: This is another situation where mattress toppers are a good solution. They are made of breathable materials like cotton, wool, and gel memory foam infused with gel beads which can make you heat up less and help transfer and exchange hot and cold temperature on the bed.

7. May Not Be Good for People With Skin Conditions

Even if you don’t have some serious skin condition, or any at all, sleeping on an air mattress can feel inconvenient. It’s made of vinyl coating or some other synthetical material that can scratch against your skin.

If your skin is just generally sensitive, the grinding and reaction against the mattress can feel quite inconvenient and lead to annoying rashes, redness, or rough and dry skin.

Editor’s notes: If you occasionally sleep on an air mattress or are hosting friends and family who will sleep over on it, make sure to place nice sheets and pillowcases made out of cotton and other organic and breathable materials which won’t cause discomfort or rashes on their skins. Never sleep on the air mattress alone.

8. Allergies

Many air mattress makers say that they are covering their airbeds with the best quality hypoallergenic materials. Not always is that the case, but furthermore, sleeping on the air mattress, so close to the floor leaves you exposed to various creepy crawlers, some of which you may be allergic to.

Many people throughout their lives are not aware of their allergies to pollen, home dust, dust mites, bedbugs, and others. Sleeping so close to the floor may often expose you to dust particles, as well as dust mites that can easily appear on your airbed and give you discomforts like fatigue, sneezing, stuffed nose, and other allergic reactions.

Editor’s notes: Cleaning and disinfecting should be enough to get rid of the creepy crawlers getting in your bed and disrupting your sleep. However, if you are struggling even while cleaning and practicing good hygiene, you should either get a bed platform or a frame. For some people, getting some other type of mattress also made their sleep more convenient.

Also Read: Can Bed Bugs Live on Air Mattress?

9. It May Be Cold

Finally, it might get cold to sleep so close to the floor on the air-filled mattress with nothing below you but the cold floor. We know that you can always place a bed frame and airbed on the top, but that’s not always so convenient for people who live in limited spaces and don’t have enough space to put a large frame in.

That’s where these convenient beds come into play. Still, if you have poor isolation and heating, sleeping on the floor during winter months can be difficult and you may catch yourself getting cold and sick. This doesn’t represent a problem for everyone, but for some people, the fact it’s cold is a true dealbreaker. Luckily, there are some solutions.

Editor’s notes: There are foldable bed platforms and metal frames that you can fold back after you wake up. Also sleeping mats can keep the area warmer which can help you get through the winter months.

Also Read: How to Stay Warm On an Air Mattress?

Sharing is caring!