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Airbeds are a popular alternative to standard mattresses because most models offer customizable firmness. Rather than support cores made of foam or springs, airbeds contain individualized air chambers that can be inflated or deflated to create different feels.
Airbeds are considered especially beneficial for sleepers with shifting firmness preferences and those who frequently experience aches and pains in their neck, shoulders, back, and other sensitive areas. Additionally, some airbeds feature dual-firmness settings that allow couples to customize each side of the bed to match their individual preferences.
Airbeds are fairly expensive, with average price-points that are much higher than those of innerspring, foam, or latex mattresses. Shoppers will also find that fewer airbed models are available compared to other mattress types. However, airbed owners generally enjoy their sleep surface.
Read on to learn more about how airbeds are made and important factors for first-time buyers. You’ll also find our picks for the best airbeds sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner reviews, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Hop down to our Buyer’s Guide for a crash course on finding the best airbed mattress.
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Sleep Number i10 Mattress
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Best Value Airbed
Sleep Number c2
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Best Luxury Airbed
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Our Editor’s Pick for Best Airbed is the Solaire by Saatva, a relatively new model that combines the innovative, adjustable design of classic airbeds with the pressure-relieving comfort of other mattress types.
The mattress features one (Twin XL and Full sizes) or two air chambers (all other sizes) in the support core. Owners can adjust the firmness of the bed by adding or releasing air. The Solaire offers a firmness range of ‘Soft’ (3) to ‘Firm’ (7), which accommodates the vast majority of sleepers regardless of their weight and sleep position.
The Solaire is also constructed with an organic-cotton pillow-top, which offers exceptional padding, along with comfort layers of gel-infused memory foam and zoned Talalay latex. These materials cradle and support the sleeper’s body, and can alleviate aches and pains as they develop.
In addition to standard sizes, the Solaire is available in Upper Flex Queen and King sizes, which are split from the top to the midsection; this allows owners to elevate the head of their bed using an adjustable base. Split King and Split California King sizes are also available. These options make the Solaire very suitable for couples with differing comfort preferences.
All Solaire orders in the contiguous U.S. and Canada qualify for free White Glove delivery, which includes in-home assembly and old mattress removal; most competing brands charge $100 to $300 for this service. The Solaire is also backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 25-year warranty.
The Solaire by Saatva checks all the boxes for what an airbed should offer, and then some. The bed is available in a variety of sizes, including split sizes, so individuals and couples with a range of comfort and firmness preferences can all enjoy a good night’s sleep on the same bed. Moreover, Saatva includes premium perks like free White Glove Delivery and backs the mattress with an extensive 25-year warranty.
Sleep Number is one of the leading airbed manufacturers nationwide. The company currently offers eight individual mattresses. Our Runner-Up pick for airbeds is the 360 i10 Smart Bed, which is part of Sleep Number’s Innovation line. The i10 is Sleep Number’s thickest bed with a profile of 13″, as well as one of the only models with a memory foam comfort layer (which is rare for any airbed).
The i10 is constructed with two individual air chambers that can customize the bed’s feel from ‘Soft’ to ‘Medium Firm.’ This range should accommodate most sleepers in the light weight group (less than 130 pounds) and average weight group (130 to 230 pounds), as well as heavier individuals who prefer softer surfaces.
Temperature neutrality is another strong point of the Sleep Number i10. Many airbeds either sleep too hot or too cool, but the i10 offers a balanced sleeping temperature for most. Designed specifically for couples, the bed is sold in Queen, King, and California sizes.
Like other Sleep Number airbeds, the i10 is compatible with SleepIQ, a sleep tracking wireless app. The i10 can be controlled using the Sleep Number remote or the SleepIQ wireless app. Sleep Number backs this product with a 100-night sleep trial and a 25-year warranty.
The Sleep Number i10 Smart Bed offers the customizable sleep experience airbed owners expect, with the added perk of being able to make adjustments using a smartphone app. The bed also stands out among airbed mattresses for its use of a memory foam comfort layer, a material which provides excellent pressure relief.
A common complaint among airbed owners – particularly those who weigh more than 230 pounds and/or sleep on their stomach – is that the mattresses are too thick. High-profile beds can be more susceptible to sinking, and larger people tend to have a difficult time getting in and out of bed.
The c2 from Sleep Number has an 8-inch profile, making it much shorter than the majority of airbeds sold today and a great pick for those who normally find airbeds too thick. The mattress has a 2-inch gel-infused polyfoam comfort layer, which provides adequate padding and body conforming for most sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups. The dual air chambers offer a firmness range that falls between ‘Medium Firm’ and ‘Firm.’
The Sleep Number c2 offers better-than-average temperature neutrality, making the mattress suitable for anyone who tends to sleep too hot or too cold on airbeds. The c2 is compatible with the SleepIQ sleep-tracking app as well, which can be useful for those who like reviewing personal sleep data.
The c2 currently offers an exceptionally low price-point compared to the average airbed. Like the i10, the c2 is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 25-year warranty.
The firmness range of the Sleep Number c2 makes the airbed a great option for those who require firmer sleep surfaces, particularly stomach sleepers and heavier sleepers. The airbed has a lower profile and firmer feel which may not be ideal for all sleepers, but for those it does work for, its low price-point makes it a very attractive value pick.
Our pick for Best Luxury Airbed is the ReST Bed, a high-tech mattress loaded with features that help offer a customized sleep experience. The air chambers are designed to target five areas, or ‘zones,’ of the sleeper’s body: the head, shoulders, lower back, hips, and legs.
Users can customize the firmness for each zone; settings generally range from ‘Soft’ to ‘Medium Firm,’ allowing the ReST Bed to accommodate most sleepers regardless of their weight. The mattress also offers dual-firmness, which enables couples to customize their own side of the bed based on their individual preferences.
In addition to manual customization, the ReST Bed may be programmed for the ‘Automatic’ setting, which continually adjusts the firmness based on the sleeper’s preferences; or ‘Position Detection,’ which will adjust the settings whenever the sleeper moves from their back to their side or vice versa. Owners also access sleep data with wireless devices and integrate ReST Bed customizations into their home technology.
The ReST Bed has a high price-point even by airbed standards, making it a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets. The mattress is backed by a 90-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
For those seeking the top-of-the-line in airbed and sleep technology, the ReST Bed is it. This airbed features a zoned construction that allows owners to finely tune every part of their sleep experience, or let the app do it for them automatically.
Below, we share everything sleepers need to consider when buying an airbed, along with our best tips for buying a new mattress.
Airbeds offer a unique experience for sleepers that sets them apart from other mattress types. Unlike innersprings that feature steel coils or memory foam or latex mattresses with polyfoam-based support cores, airbeds are constructed with internal air chambers that can be adjusted by adding or removing air with an electric pump, resulting in customized firmness and support.
Older airbeds feature manual adjustment controls, but many newer models can be adjusted remotely using a portable controller or smart app technology.
The availability of airbeds is somewhat limited compared to innersprings, hybrids, memory foam, and latex mattresses. Additionally, the price-points of most airbeds are significantly above-average.
However, airbeds tend to earn above-average customer satisfaction ratings, due in large part to their customizable controls and long lifespans, as well as pain- and pressure-relieving abilities. The adjustable controls also make them suitable for side, back, and stomach sleepers.
It’s important to note that the term ‘airbed’ refers to a mattress used as the primarily sleep surface in bedrooms and guest rooms. Airbeds are different from temporary air mattresses (also known as sleep pads) that are commonly used for camping or floor-sleeping. This review will only discuss airbeds designed for primary sleep, and not temporary air mattresses.
In order to meet the definition of an airbed, the mattress must be designed as a primary sleep surface and feature at least two internal air chambers in the support core. Beyond this criteria, airbeds sold today may differ in several ways:
Airbeds offer a sleep experience unlike other mattresses. Key attributes include:
While airbeds have lower availability than other mattress types, you’ll still have your pick of quality airbeds to choose from. To narrow down your selection, it can be helpful to know the following:
We’ll review these points in the following sections, starting with the construction of an airbed.
As we’ve discussed, airbeds are unique from other mattress types in their construction. As with anything, the construction affects the quality of the final mattress. Here’s what you need to know:
Some airbeds are designed with chambers beneath each side of the bed and a small gap between them. In these cases, sleepers may notice sagging and less support in the center of the bed.
This can lead to long-term pain and pressure issues; the gap may also affect the responsiveness of the sleep surface, which is tied to how good the mattress is for sex. Some manufacturers compensate for this trench effect by eliminating the gap between the chambers.
The materials used to make air mattress chambers will vary by manufacturer. Many are constructed from vulcanized rubber, but other materials — such as latex or cotton — may also be used.
The construction of the air chambers does not affect the feel or supportive qualities of the mattress to a noticeable extent, according to owner feedback.
Airbeds are somewhat thick compared to other mattress types; most models sold today range between 10 and 15 inches thick. However, the overall thickness of an airbed is usually associated with its comfort layer components.
The air chamber support core, on the other hand, tends to remain constant; most airbed support cores measure between five and seven inches thick, regardless of the airbed’s overall thickness.
Above-average noise is one of the chief complaints associated with airbed mattresses. This is largely due to buzzing and whirring produced by electric air pumps. Many models also squeak when supporting weight.
Some airbeds are shipped fully assembled. Additionally, select manufacturers offer in-home assembly services for a surcharge. Some, like our Editor’s Pick, the Solaire by Saatva, include it for free.
Other mattress models are designed for owner assembly, and come with detailed instructions. Most of these models feature a modular design that does not require any mattress expertise, but putting them together can be a time-consuming process.
The beauty of an airbed is that you can adjust the firmness to your exact preferences. But if this is your first time buying a mattress, you may not know what those preferences are.
Generally, people hone in on their preferred mattress firmness using two factors: their body weight and sleep position.
The table below summarizes the popular firmness ranges for most sleepers, based on body weight and sleep position:
|Weight Group||Preferred Firmness for Most Side Sleepers||Preferred Firmness for Most Back Sleepers||Preferred Firmness for Most Stomach Sleepers|
|Below-average (Less than 130 pounds)||3 (Soft) to 5 (Medium)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)|
|Average (130 to 230 Pounds)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||5 (Medium) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
|Above-average (More than 230 Pounds)||5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
While all airbeds offer customizable firmness, each bed will be listed with a specific firmness range. For example, the ‘Soft’ to ‘Firm’ range of the Solaire by Saatva, our Editor’s Pick, is much larger than the ‘Medium Firm’ to ‘Firm’ firmness range of the Sleep Number 360 c2, our Best Value Airbed.
When considering different airbed models, always verify that the bed you’re thinking of purchasing offers a firmness range that includes your preferred firmness setting.
Durability and lifespan with airbeds can be tricky. When properly maintained, leading airbed models can perform for eight years or longer, which places them well ahead of the industry average of seven years.
However, equipment breakdowns and malfunctioning components are common within the first few years of ownership. Replacing parts is usually covered under the product warranty and airbed manufacturers anticipate these requests, but filing warranty claims can lead to additional owner expenses.
Here’s why: most airbed warranties span at least 20 years. However, in most cases, the nonprorated coverage period only extends two to three years in length.
During this time, owners will not have to pay to repair or replace defective components of their mattress, including adjustable controls or air chambers. The only expenses associated with nonprorated coverage are mattress shipping and handling costs, and some manufacturers will cover these as well.
Once nonprorated coverage ends, the remainder of the warranty will be prorated. This is when things tend to get expensive.
During prorated coverage, owners must pay certain costs to replace their airbed or specific components (such as air chambers). These costs are usually calculated by multiplying a percentage of the product or part by the number of years that have passed since the warranty began. The longer the owner sleeps on the mattress, the higher the prorated costs will be.
Let’s say that an air chamber in an airbed is defective and costs $300 to replace. Under the terms of the airbed warranty, owners must pay 20% of the air chamber cost (or $60), plus an additional 4% of the original cost for each year they have owned the mattress. If the chamber becomes defective after 10 years, the owner must pay 60% of the original price, or $180, to replace the air chamber.
Typically, prorated charges will cap around 90% to 96% during the final few years of the warranty. So while owners will never pay full price to replace their airbed or an individual component, they will come close during the latter stages of their warranty.
For more information, please visit our guide to Understanding Mattress Warranties.
Customers should take note that most airbed manufacturers offer sleep trials for their mattresses. Sleep trials allow customers to test out their mattress for a set number of nights and — if they choose — return the airbed for a partial or full refund. All of our best airbed mattress picks offer sleep trials of 90 nights or longer.
Airbeds with a sleep trial of at least 60 nights might be a good option for customers who are unsure whether they want to commit to owning an airbed. Most sleep trials carry a mandatory break-in period of at least 20 to 30 nights; customers cannot return their mattress during this period for a refund.
Manufacturers may also require customers to cover shipping and handling fees associated with returning their mattress during the sleep trial.
The cheapest airbed models are priced around $1,000, while the most expensive options are priced at $3,000 or higher. According to our findings, the average Queen-size airbed costs $2,283.
Factors that drive the price of an airbed include the comfort layer components, the total number of air chambers, the number of unique firmness and support settings, and the type of manual or remote adjustment controls. Customers should also consider that airbed replacement parts are a likely expense down the road.
If you share your bed with a partner who has different firmness settings, an airbed with dual firmness can accommodate both of you comfortably. These airbeds allow you to customize the firmness setting for either side of the bed. All of our top airbed mattress picks are designed with dual firmness settings.
If you or your partner requires an adjustable base for your mattress, you might also consider an airbed available in split sizes, like the Solaire by Saatva. These are split down the middle to accommodate both dual firmness as well as use with an adjustable base.
The majority of today’s airbeds are adjusted using remote control, although some still use a hand crank. Some newer models, like the Sleep Number and ReST Bed, can be adjusted wirelessly using an app on your smartphone. These apps often include sleep tracking functionality as well.
Whichever type of adjustment your airbed requires, ensure you are comfortable with it.
Whenever you buy a new mattress, it’s a good idea to buy new pillows as well. Pillows work together with your mattress to provide a comfortable sleep experience. Plus, they wear out much sooner than the average mattress.
With airbeds in particular, you’ll likely need new bed sheets as well. Airbeds often have taller profiles than the average mattress, and depending on their overall height, may even require deep pocket sheets.
Standard sheets usually fit mattresses up to 14 inches tall, while deep pocket sheets fit taller mattresses and can be a more suitable fit for some airbeds.
When purchasing an airbed online or in a brick-and-mortar store, here are a few key questions to ask:
Although the airbed is a very popular mattress choice, these models may not be right for you. Be sure to check out the other mattress type guides on Tuck.com: