The Best Airbed Mattresses – Buyer's Guide & Top Picks
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For most types of mattresses, firmness is fixed, and selecting a mattress requires picking one with just the right comfort feel.
An airbed changes this equation completely. These mattresses have a support core that is an internal chamber filled with air, and by adding or removing air, you can immediately adjust the overall feel of the bed. Controlling the firmness is done with a remote or through a smartphone app, making it easy to dial-in the perfect feel for your needs.
To help you find the right airbed for you, we’ll introduce our picks for the best airbed mattresses on the market today. Our guide will also take you through the important background including how airbeds are built, how they are different from air mattresses, their benefits and downsides, and the key considerations to have in mind when shopping for an airbed.
Every mattress has its own design and benefits, and in the section below, we review why each of these mattresses made our list of top picks.
Why we like it:
- Layered comfort system enhances bounce and responsiveness
- Control firmness using precise scientific measurements
- Built-in inflation pump for quieter operation
- Competitive price for adjustable airbed
- Free white glove delivery
Saatva has firmly established its name as a trusted company in online mattresses, and the company continues to innovate and develop new products. The Solaire is the company’s first foray into airbeds, and this mattress offers excellent performance at an extremely competitive price for this type of bed.
The air chamber in the Solaire is controlled by an inflation device that is built into the bed’s edge enclosure. This helps it operate quietly and eliminates the bulky pump that accompanies some air mattresses. You can control the firmness of this chamber using an attached remote that lets you select from 50 firmness settings, and each side of the bed can have a different level. The firmness settings are displayed using mm/HG, an exact measurement of pressure.
A multifaceted comfort system works to make sure that you are comfortable and well-supported on the Solaire mattress. The very top of the bed is a pillow top made with organic cotton. This layer contributes breathability and inviting softness. The next layer is made with aerated Talalay latex. The latex is zoned to provide more support to common pressure points, and the material compresses to cushion the body while retaining notable bounce.
Underneath the latex is a layer of gel-infused memory foam. Memory foam boosts pressure relief to support the proper alignment of your spine. An antibacterial moisture barrier separates the memory foam from the air chamber.
The addition of latex and memory foam help this comfort layer isolate motion so that you won’t be bothered by a partner or a pet moving on another part of the mattress. Ventilated latex and gel-infused memory foam resist heat buildup, keeping the Solaire cool during the night.
Couples can set each side of the mattress to a different firmness level, and Saatva offers special options for people who want this flexibility and the ability to use the Solaire with an adjustable base.
Saatva provides free white-glove delivery with each purchase, which means that representatives of the company will install the mattress and make sure it is working properly. They can remove an old mattress if needed as well. After installation, you have 120 nights to test out the mattress. If you aren’t satisfied, you can return it for a refund minus a $99 return shipping fee.
A 25-year limited warranty covers the Solaire, and during the first five years, all parts and labor costs are covered.
The ReST Bed
Why we like it:
- Zoned chambers offer exceptional firmness control
- Choice of automatic or manual settings
- Sensors record detailed information to improve your sleep
- Gel-infused memory foam comfort layers increase contouring and responsiveness
The ReST Bed takes the airbed to a new level by creating a network of separate air chambers so that your body can get truly tailored support. At the same time, the built-in sensors collect data that let you improve your sleep in real-time and monitor for trends over the longer-term.
Each side of the ReST Bed has separate air chambers for the head, shoulders, lumbar area, and the lower body. The inflation level in each chamber can be different, which means that you can increase or decrease the firmness underneath each of those parts of the body. For people with sharp pressure points or sensitive areas, this extra control is especially useful and a unique selling point of the ReST Bed.
Additional support is offered by two layers of gel-infused memory foam -- one that is 1” thick and one that is 2” thick -- that contour to the body and supplement the pressure relief provided by the air chamber. The gel-infusion works to keep these layers cool and resistant to retention of body heat.
Above the memory foam, the topmost layer of the ReST Bed includes a complex sensor that monitors your movement and how your weight is applied to the bed. It can generate a “heat map” so that you can see this represented visually. This data can be collected for longer-term analysis of your sleep quality and patterns.
Controlling the air in the ReST Bed can be done using a tablet that comes with the bed or through an app (currently only available for Android). You can set each chamber’s firmness manually, or you can use the Automatic or the Auto Position modes. The Automatic mode incorporates data from sensor to adjust the air in real-time based on your movement. In Auto Position mode, you set your preferred feel for different sleep positions. The sensors detect when you change positions and switch the settings accordingly.
Delivery of the ReST Bed costs $199 and includes full setup of the mattress and the inflation system. Once it is delivered, you have 90 nights to try it out with the option to return it for a refund if you aren’t satisfied. The company provides a 10-year non-prorated warranty on all of the parts and materials used in the ReST Bed except for the control tablet that is made by a third party and covered by a different warranty.
Sleep Number i10
Why we like it:
- Tall comfort layer works to relieve pressure points
- Easy to operate “Sleep Number” system for firmness settings
- SleepIQ system collects data to improve sleep
- Proven name in airbeds
For many customers, airbeds are inherently associated with Sleep Number. This company has dominated this market and has established a reputation for easy firmness adjustments using their “Sleep Number” system.
This system simplifies the process of finding and remembering your preferred comfort level for the mattress. Using a remote (sold separately) or a smartphone app (that can connect via WiFi or Bluetooth), each sleeper on the bed can set a “Sleep Number.” Moving that number up makes the bed firmer, and moving it down makes it softer. Adjustments can be made in real-time over the course of the night, and the i10 mattress has the ability to make those adjustments for you automatically through the night.
Sleep Number offers a wide range of models, and the i10 is part of the “Innovation” series. It is 13” tall and has a 7” comfort system that includes layers of memory foam and polyfoam. These layers are included to supplement the air chamber by adding contouring, pressure relief, and motion isolation so that movement of one person on the mattress is less likely to disturb the person sharing the bed.
The SleepIQ system that comes with the i10 uses sensors to gather data about your sleep so that you can better understand trends in your nightly rest. By measuring things like your heart rate, movement, and breathing, you are given a SleepIQ score each night and can experiment with adjustments to boost that number over time.
Delivery of the Sleep Number i10 is done using the company’s Comfort Service Home Delivery program that costs $199. Included in that price is full setup of the mattress in your bedroom. Once it has been installed, you have 100 nights to try it out with the option to return it; however, you must keep the bed for 30 nights before initiating a return. In addition, return shipping charges are deducted from your refund if you decide to send the bed back.
The i10 comes with a 25-year limited warranty. The warranty is non-prorated during the first two years and then prorated after that point. The SleepIQ system is covered by a 2-year warranty.
Best Airbed Buyer’s Guide
What’s the Difference Between an Airbed and an Air Mattress?
Air mattresses are inflatable beds that are designed only for temporary use including as a guest bed or a bed for camping. Airbeds are made for everyday use and have a more robust air chamber as well as layers of other materials that supplement that air chamber.
The terminology around these products can be tricky because not everyone uses the terms in the same way. After all, both mattresses are based on the idea of using a cushion of air to sleep on. But an airbed is a much more robust offering and is built for years of nightly use.
The following table provides a further comparison of the characteristics of airbeds and air mattresses.
|Construction||Support core of thick air chamber with other materials like foam or latex layered above||Air chamber created by thin plastic exterior|
|Inflation||Complex mechanical pump controlled by remote or smartphone||Manual pump or small motorized pump|
|Intended Use||Nightly, regular use||Temporary use|
|Durability||6-8 years or more||1-3 years depending on how often it is used|
|Typical Price||$2,000 and up||$25-200|
As this section demonstrates, an airbed and an air mattress are totally different products. Each has their use, but if you’re looking for a mattress to use “full-time” in your bedroom, an airbed is the appropriate one to consider.
If you’re just looking for a temporary mattress to use every now-and-again, check out our guide to the Best Air Mattresses.
How Do Airbeds Work?
Airbeds work by holding a set amount of air within sealed chambers inside the mattress. A valve and pump system allows air to be added or removed, and this change in inflation modifies the feel of the mattress. The pump is usually controlled by an attached remote, a wireless remote, or a smartphone app that is connected by WiFi or Bluetooth.
What Are the Types of Airbeds?
Almost all airbeds share the same conceptual design with regard to the air chambers and control system. However, specific elements of the construction can help distinguish between airbeds, and these elements are described in the following sections.
Number of Chambers
Virtually every airbed has at least two chambers, and these usually are on each side of the mattress, allowing each sleeper to adjust their side’s feel to their liking.
Some airbeds have additional chambers in order to provide more control over the firmness levels across the bed. An airbed with eight chambers in total will have four on each side, letting each person adjust the firmness feel under different parts of their body.
In general, having more chambers means a feel of the mattress that is more tailored to the individual, but it can also make for more complicated controls because there are more chambers to manage.
Air Chamber Construction
Most airbeds have air chambers built with vulcanized rubber. This means that the rubber has been treated to make it harder and better able to withstand the pressure that comes from inflation, deflation, and the weight of sleepers on the mattress.
While vulcanized rubber is the most common material, some airbeds may utilize other types of rubber, polyurethane, or other plastics.
Firmness Settings and Control Mechanism
Every airbed has a certain range of firmness settings. One difference that can exist among airbeds is the minimum and maximum of that range as well as the number of settings that exist between them that can be used to fine-tune the feel of the mattress.
The mechanism for controlling firmness can vary depending on the airbed model and brand. Traditionally, airbeds have been controlled by an attached remote; however, with more reliable wireless technologies, many are now controlled by a smartphone app or by a separate wireless remote.
In most airbeds, you don’t sleep directly on top of the air chambers. Instead, there are other layers that are placed above the support core, and these form the bed’s comfort system. It may be included inside the main mattress cover or may be woven as a pillow top.
Comfort System Materials
The comfort system in an airbed can be one layer or a combination of multiple layers. The feel and performance will be influenced by the types of materials that are included in this comfort system.
The following table reviews the characteristics of some of the materials that are most commonly used in the comfort systems of airbeds. Keep in mind that these are general descriptions and that many materials can be formulated to have variation in these properties.
|Memory Foam||Significant contouring can help relieve pressure, excellent motion isolation, minimal noise||Can have excess hug that makes you feel stuck in the bed, may inhibit motion on the mattress with negative effects on sex, can retain heat through the night|
|Polyfoam||Moderate contouring and moderate bounce, minimal noise, does not retain as much heat as memory foam||May not offer as much contouring or pressure relief, transfers more motion than memory foam, can be less durable|
|Latex||Moderate contouring and pressure relief, considerable bounce makes it easy to move on the mattress, durable material, limited heat retention, quiet||Does not offer as much pressure point relief as memory foam, more noticeable motion transfer, can be heavy and hard to move, often more expensive, some people have allergies to latex|
|Cotton||Soft and comfortable, breathable to promote ventilation and cooling||Very limited contouring and pressure relief, minimal motion isolation, little bounce or resilience|
|Wool||Soft and inviting, naturally moisture wicking with good temperature regulation||Very limited contouring and pressure relief, virtually no motion isolation, can be expensive, very little bounce or resilience|
Comfort System Thickness
In addition to the materials themselves, the thickness of the comfort system can differentiate one airbed from another. A thinner comfort layer may cause more pressure to be placed on the air chamber, especially for sleepers who have pronounced pressure points or who weigh over 230 pounds. At the same time, a thicker comfort layer may affect how much you feel the changes in the inflation level of the air chamber.
How Much do Airbeds Cost?
Airbeds are one of the more expensive types of mattresses. While there are some lower priced models available, in general you should expect to spend at least $2,000 on an airbed and often considerably more.
If an airbed has more advanced features, including more chambers or technology for controlling inflation, the price may be higher. Price may increase when the airbed has thicker comfort layers or more expensive materials used in the comfort system.
What Are the Important Considerations When Shopping For an Airbed?
Because of their price, airbeds tend to be a significant investment for your bedroom. As a result, it makes sense that you want to make sure that you select the best one for your needs.
The key considerations for airbed shopping have to do with the mattress, the company offering it, and your own personal preferences. The following three sections cover these topics in greater detail.
When evaluating an airbed, you’ll want to take a close look at the details of the mattress, including the specific items described below.
A major selling point of an airbed is the ability to control firmness, so make sure to confirm that the airbed you’re looking at provides a firmness range that includes your desired comfort level. If you want more control, look for a model with a higher number of settings so that you can be more fine-grained in your firmness adjustments.
How Firmness is Adjusted
Make sure to consider the mechanism by which firmness is controlled for the airbed. Remember that you may need to make adjustments during the night, so it should be something that will be easy for you to operate.
Many airbeds are now controlled using smartphone apps or a wireless remote or tablet. For many customers, this is easier and offers a pleasant user interface. However, other customers may want to reduce their technology and blue light exposure in bed or just may want a more traditional remote. Think about what is most likely to work for you and select accordingly.
Some airbeds offer automatic firmness adjustments through the night. Rather than manually making changes to inflation, these airbeds use sensors to detect when and where you may need more support. Look for an airbed with this technology if you value this kind of “driverless” firmness control.
The comfort system will have a profound effect on how you experience sleeping on an airbed. The materials and thickness can influence the level of contouring, motion isolation, bounce, temperature regulation, noise, and more.
Because airbeds have at least two chambers (with at least one on each side), it is possible for there to be a small space between them. Many higher-end airbeds eliminate this trench or build-in a reinforcing material so that there is no noticeable sagging in this area.
We advise looking for an airbed that has no trench or that has verified customer reviews indicating that there is no perceptible gap between the sides of the bed.
Compatibility With Adjustable Base
For health or comfort reasons, some people use their mattress with an adjustable frame. Not all airbeds can be used with an adjustable base without causing harm to the air chambers. If you plan to use an adjustable base, check to make sure that it is permitted by the airbed manufacturer.
Some companies add specialized technology to airbeds with the goal of improving your sleep experience. For example, this technology may use sensors to collect data about your sleep quality or about the pressure you are applying to the mattress. This type of technology may power automatic firmness adjustments by the mattress. If you find it helpful to review this kind of data, consider an airbed that comes with it included.
Airbeds are a more complex product with more moving parts compared to most traditional mattresses. For this reason, as well as for the higher cost of airbeds, it’s important to look for top-quality customer care. Vital aspects of customer service for airbeds is described in the following sections.
Delivery & Assembly
Because of the mechanical parts and internal design, airbeds are not usually sent as a bed-in-a-box. To make sure they are running correctly, they are normally delivered and installed by professionals familiar with the product.
White glove delivery may come with an additional cost, and this is important to factor into your overall budget. Some of these services include haul-away of an old mattress if needed as well.
Sleep Trial and Returns
Many mattresses purchased online come with a sleep trial. This return window lets you test out the mattress in your own home with the option to get a refund if you aren’t satisfied with it.
A sleep trial can be an excellent way to ensure that you wind up with a mattress that delivers comfortable and supportive sleep. Many sleep trials are around 100 nights long. They may include a break-in period during which you must keep the mattress while your body adjusts to how it feels.
In some cases, a sleep trial may not offer a full refund. Fees for return shipping or restocking may be deducted from your refund.
We recommend that you look for an airbed with an extended sleep trial and that you carefully review the terms before making a purchase so that you are well-informed about the return policy.
The more complicated internal workings of an airbed cause the warranty to take on added importance. Damage to the air chambers or to the control mechanism can take an airbed out of commission, putting greater necessity in making a repair.
Most airbeds have a long useful life of at least 6 years, but it’s not uncommon for there to be parts that need to be replaced to keep it functioning in top shape.
In many cases, the warranty covers the cost of some or all of those parts. Warranties can be prorated or non-prorated. In a prorated warranty, the company covers a percentage of repair costs that gets smaller the longer you own the bed. In a non-prorated warranty, the percent covered does not change with time.
Some airbed warranties provide a period of full coverage that is then followed by a longer non-prorated warranty period. Other warranties may be entirely prorated or non-prorated.
Because the price of some parts can be significant, a more customer-friendly warranty can have a major effect on the total cost of ownership for your airbed. Review the warranty terms before making a purchase so that you know what will and won’t be covered if something goes wrong.
Your Sleep Needs
It’s natural to focus on the mattress and mattress company when shopping, but to get the best results, it’s important to also think about your own situation and what you need from a mattress.
Your sleeping position influences how you apply weight to the mattress and where it is that you need more cushioning. A benefit of an airbed is that you have more flexibility in adjusting the feel to fit your sleeping position.
People of a higher body weight can put more pressure on the comfort system of a mattress. If the comfort layers are too thin, this can unduly stress the support core, which in this case could affect the longevity of the air chambers. People who weigh over 230 pounds typically get the best performance and durability from a mattress that has a thicker comfort system.
If you’re someone who tends to sleep hot, make sure to carefully consider the materials in the comfort layer. Even though an airbed lets you control the firmness, you could still overheat if there is too much heat retention in the top of the bed.
Sharing a Bed
If you share a mattress with a partner, look for an airbed that has a comfort system material that can isolate motion so neither person will be disturbed by the movement of the other. Some materials are better for facilitating sexual activity, which is another consideration for couples who are mattress shopping.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Airbed Mattresses?
Like all mattress types, there are benefits and downsides to airbeds.
The big benefit to airbeds is that they can be adjusted on the fly to suit your firmness preferences. You are never locked into one feel for your bed, so you can change it up on a whim if your comfort preferences change.
Firmness to Suit Couples
Because airbeds have separate chambers on each side of the bed, each person can set the firmness to the level that they want. This is especially helpful for people who share a bed but have diverging firmness preferences.
Support and Comfort
While the air chambers provide a great support core, the comfort system of an airbed can offer an excellent night’s sleep that helps promote spinal alignment. By providing the right amount of support and firmness, many airbeds excel when it comes to overall customer satisfaction.
Airbeds tend to be expensive relative to other types of mattresses. Not only are the costs higher for the mattress itself, but there may be higher costs for delivery and installation. The longer-term costs of ownership can be higher as well depending on the warranty coverage.
Reliance on Specialty Parts
With most mattresses, you simply lie down, and that’s that. But with an airbed, you need the air chamber, the valve, pump, and remote to be functioning properly. If one of these elements stops working, you lose the ability to control your mattress firmness.
To make firmness adjustments, the pump has to add or remove air, and this can be noisy. If you’re very sensitive to sound when trying to sleep, this could be a concern with an airbed.
Some models of airbeds have an external pump that you need to place on the ground near the bed and near an outlet. These can take up floor space and may be aesthetically unappealing for people who prioritize their bedroom decor.
While the air chamber lets you control firmness, it cannot guarantee that you get accurate support to promote spinal alignment. Getting support for your body’s pressure points typically relies on having a comfort system that has an appropriate amount of responsiveness. Not all airbeds have a well-designed or well-built comfort system to offer this support.