Air mattresses are a special breed of bad for places where you can sleep. Hell, I’d consider sleeping on the floor rather than on one of those things. My biggest gripe with mattresses isn’t how uncomfortable they are, but how cold they can be.
Actually, cold isn’t the right word to describe how they feel. If you’re using an air mattress during the winter, prepare to feel the frost.
Luckily for you, there are a couple of tips and tricks you can use to improve the temperature issue vastly. It won’t fix the rest, but hey, at least you won’t feel like someone locked you up into a refrigerator while you wonder what you did wrong to deserve such treatment.
I know you wish you never had to sleep on an air mattress. I sure wouldn’t wish it to my worst enemy, especially since there are so many wonderful options out there when it comes to picking a mattress.
However, sometimes it’s the only workable option (like when you’re going camping), so your best bet is to buckle up and follow this guide.
What you’ll learn:
- What makes air mattresses so cold
- Why you shouldn’t rely on an air mattress for long-term sleep
- How to insulate the top of your mattress to stop it from freezing your back
Why are Air Mattresses so Cold?
The air mattress you are sleeping on is full of air. The air comes in contact with your body and starts getting hotter while absorbing heat from your body.
Since the plastic of the mattress has no insulation, the heat exchange will make the air that comes into contact with your body hotter. But then the heat makes the air inside the mattress move, giving you an infinite supply of cold air.
I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t hot air lighter? Shouldn’t the air I heat with my body stay close to the top of the mattress?”. Well, yes, except that there is not enough space inside the mattress for the separation between hot and cold air to matter. The hot air will always mix up with the cold one, and the mattress will always absorb cold from the outside environment because of plastic’s terrible isolation.
Basically, you are trying to heat an area bigger than your body that keeps exchanging heat with your room/tent/wherever you are sleeping. It’s a losing battle.
Air Mattresses are not Suited for Long-Term Sleep
You might wonder what’s wrong with air mattresses. After all, you can sleep on them just fine. There’s nothing wrong with them, but please realize that poor sleep poses a serious health hazard in the long term.
Every researcher agrees: not getting enough sleep causes vastly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and even dementia. Even in the short term a lack of sleep isn’t desirable, as it makes you moody and tired.
Air mattresses don’t work as your everyday beds exactly for this reason: they aren’t very comfortable, and your back will start begging for mercy after you sleep on them for a couple of weeks. Plus there’s the temperature problem, which we will see how to fix in the coming section.
5 Ways to Stay Warm On an Air Mattress
You’ve trying to perform the heroic deed of sleeping on an air mattress. Admirable, but it doesn’t have to be heroic. Here are some simple ideas for you. They all work well, but they shine when you combine at least 2 or 3 of them.
Most of these solutions work the same way: they try to isolate you from the mattress. Having a material that isn’t as cruel on your body’s temperature as plastic will fix everything. I promise.
Warning: don’t bother trying to isolate the mattress from the floor. The heat exchange goes through the entire area of the mattress, and the one with the floor is just a small part of it.
1. Place Sheets Between your Back and the Mattress
Sheets can keep your body away from the criminally cold mattress. The thicker the merrier. In fact, if you have a comforter, it’s the best solution to the issue for the freezing temperature.
The main issue with this solution is the fact that it does nothing to improve the mattress’ comfort. However, since everyone has sheets, I put this tip as #1, because it’s a solution you can implement right away without spending money. It works fine as a temporary fix.
Our suggestion: Queen Size Sheet Set
2. Sleep in a Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags aren’t great by themselves, as it still feels like you’re sleeping on the floor. However, they are great for your body heat, so you can simply sleep in a sleeping bag on top of an air mattress and you will have solved all of your problems.
This is a very easy and inexpensive solution, and it’s also the friendliest if you’re short on space. It’s great if you’re going camping or if you are going to a place where you will have to sleep on an air mattress and can’t bring your sheets with you.
3. Use an Isolating Mattress Topper
These things are a lifesaver for campers. I’m not even joking. You just place them on top of the mattress, and they turn it into a very serviceable bed. It’s still not quite like a proper bed, but it’s pretty damn close.
There are various types of toppers you can use, depending on your needs and space. If you are going camping, there are sleeping pads specifically designed for that, but at that point I’d wonder why you’re even using an air mattress.
My favorite type of toppers are the memory foam ones, because they are super comfortable and turn an air mattress into a decent bed.
Our suggestion: Linenspa 2 Inch Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper
4. Add Layers to your Clothing
This one is easy. If you insulate yourself with clothing, then the mattresses’ cruel system of keeping it icy doesn’t matter anymore.
This solution has its flaws, though. First off, some people have issues falling asleep if they aren’t naked. And I get it, I’m one of them. Clothes can feel restricting at night. Another issue is that the outside temperature might not be quite cold enough to justify keeping them on.
For example, during spring or fall, the mattress’ cold is more an issue of comfort than it is of temperature. But in those times, it doesn’t make much sense to cover yourself like an Eskimo.
5. Use External Sources of Heat
I remember when I used to make fun of my grandma because of her love for hot water bottles. That was until I realized I needed one myself. Hot water bottles are a great aid in combating the cold, and they are also inexpensive and can be used anywhere. Assuming you have ways of heating up water.
Our suggestion: HomeTop Premium Classic Rubber Hot Water Bottle
If electricity isn’t an issue, there are also those mini-heaters who are excellent at keeping the room/tent heated.
Warning: Do not keep heaters up at night, even if you can afford the electricity bill. They are supposed to be used in short bursts to heat a room. Leaving them on all night is perilous.
Sleeping on an air mattress can feel like torture, but by following the tips outlined in this article, it will turn into a pleasant sleep experience. Or at the very least, it won’t be as miserable.
In this article, you have learned many strategies you can easily implement to improve your sleep quality when sleeping on an air mattress.
Insulate the part of the mattress that comes into contact directly with your skin. It’s up to you whether you do it via extra clothing layers, mattress foam, sheet, or other methods.
If you are unsure, start with sheets, as these are readily available everywhere, and move onto other methods if sheets aren’t quite cutting it.
It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to improve your outdoor camping experience, or if you’re visiting your mom and her 30 years old mattress which somehow stood the test of time: your sleep is important, so arm yourself with ways of combating the coldness of an air mattress.