Is sleeping on an air mattress bad for your back?

There seems to be so much disputed evidence about whether it is safer for your back to sleep on a firm or soft mattress. It often depends on the person’s interest and level of activity. But what about an air mattress?

Anyone who’s ever topped an air mattress for a camping party or a hiking trip knows how sore you can get on one after a long night’s sleep.

Is it really unpleasant for your back to sleep on an air mattress? Here’s a little bit more on the subject. You may be shocked by the response, so let’s take a look.


You need good body support

It’s not uncommon to wake up feeling sore after a night on an air mattress. It comes with a bit of stiffness. That’s because an air mattress is just that: air in an airtight container, plastic, pillow-shaped.

On a standard bed, regular mattresses have foam or springs to give your body the support it needs during the night. For your body to relax and heal itself, a mattress needs to be able to hold your head, shoulders, hips, and spine during the night.

Air mattresses can not provide the same support on their own. It’s almost impossible for your back to fit correctly while you’re sleeping without support.

Can air mattress be supportive of your body?

Without a doubt, an air mattress is bad for the back. Any mattress will make your back sore without knowing how to properly support your body.

Even normal mattresses, it can cause your body to put pressure on different points and limit blood flow. Your body will sink towards the center with a mattress that is too soft and cause your back to move out of proper alignment.

If an air mattress is to be used on a long-term basis, one that has adjustable firmness is the best type of air mattress to give you the best type of support. It may be more difficult to get the right amount of air in a simple air mattress, particularly if you need to use a hand pump or your mouth to blow it up.

A higher-end air mattress would allow you to adjust how much air enters, which in effect, changes your body’s amount of support. If a long-term air mattress is to be used, it is also best to have a topper of the mattress to go over it. It leads to greater relaxation as well as support.

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What’s important in an air mattress? 

Sturdiness and good support are important criteria for the selection of an air mattress. But when using an air mattress, there’s more to consider, especially if it’s going to be long-term. Our bodies need support to control temperature during the night. Traditional mattresses help to distribute our bodies ‘ heat.

Air mattresses are made of vinyl or other synthetic materials that do not transfer body heat, which may cause you to overheat at night. A mattress topper will play an important role here, as it will allow your body heat to be distributed during the warmer months and keep your body heat in during the colder weather.

To ensure the support you need for your air mattress, it should be deflated frequently and then inflated again. Analyze how your body feels when lying on the mattress every two or three days.

Check the mattress to make sure that your body is still protected while lying on your back and side.

So, is sleeping on an air mattress the right choice for you?


Air is a very different animal from other components of the mattress, and if it is going to work for you, there are many factors. There are some very definite pros and cons to air mattresses.


  • Versatility: Lightweight and highly versatile air mattresses. One person can easily move them and carry them. Great for camping outdoors.
  • Low cost: Air mattresses start as low as $50 and hit approximately $450. Generally, they have a much lower price point relative to other styles of mattresses. Obviously, you won’t purchase a full mattress when camping. So compare it to sleeping on a rocky surface or an air mattress.
  • Great if you like an adjustable mattress: You’re not stuck with one type of mattress. Sometimes when you have a bad back, you want a firm mattress. In any case, adjustability is definitely a pro to fit your comfort level.
  • Works well for young sleepers: Children and young adults appear to be more flexible and less cooperative.


  • Motion transfer: A major complaint about air mattresses is that more than other forms of mattresses they pass motion. The air forms a solid block and moves through the whole bed when an impact happens in one place. This can render sleeping with another person a difficult experience.
  • Temperature control: The air in the mattress is not equal in temperature. This tends to take on the outside temperature and can result in a hot or cold bed that can make sleeping uncomfortable. You can sleep on with an air mattress, and it will absorb the cold from the ground even with highly piled blankets in cold weather. So toppers are a must.
  • Not good for certain conditions: With an air mattress, certain physical conditions do not fit well, like n pregnancy. If you’re overweight or obese, they’re not practical. Then finally, some experts are still advising you should consult with your doctor before using an air mattress if you already have a back problem.
  • Requires maintenance: You run the risk of deflating the mattress. In time, each air mattress loses air and requires additional air. Often, air mattresses are susceptible to leaks requiring patching. Most modern air beds are fitted with pumps and repair kits. There are some air mattresses that provide secondary pumps. The pressure is sensed and automatically turned on to keep the bed fully inflated.

Things That Can Help

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If you like the concept of an air mattress, you can do some things to increase the chances that it will suit you well.

  • Keep the mattress Inflated: If you need to do it manually or get one with a decent pump, get on a regular schedule of inflating the mattress.
  • Use a mattress topper: A topper mattress can solve various air bed problems. It can isolate and decrease the transfer of motion, it can assist with temperature regulation, and for better support, it can add cushioning.
  • Build a frame and wall support: If the mattress is held in place, there is less motion, and the frame can act as part of the support that you receive from the bed. Using water coolers, logs, bags, and other means can help reduce motion.
  • Buy a good air mattress: You’re probably going to be happier with a good quality mattress. There are a number of great ones on the market.

Wrapping up

So, is it air mattress really bad for your back? The answer is yes as well as no. An air mattress that has no support can have long-term effects on your back, but a conventional mattress could also be said. It’s all about sleeping ergonomics.

For more than a few nights on a camping trip, an air mattress with the right amount of support could be affordable. The main objective is to have a surface of sleep that helps you to maintain proper balance with your spine and the underlying muscles and ligaments.

You will also want the right topper for the mattress and the ability to adjust the air in the mattress to meet your needs for comfort.