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Air Mattress vs Water Mattress (Incl. Helpful Tips)

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Air Mattress vs Water Mattress – Which Is Best?

Before you make the difficult choice between an air mattress or water mattress, it is important to consider a few important factors to help you get the most for your money, space, and needs.

Comfort is key and this guide will give you all the information you need to make a great decision.

Air Mattresses are easy to inflate, with a lot of more modern models coming with self-inflating electric pumps already built-in.

This means you have one less thing to worry about if you’re thinking of using this mattress whilst traveling.

They are versatile and very widely available with a version available to suit every budget.

It is important to consider they tend to come with shorter warranties than other mattresses due to the nature of this product and the fact they are quite easy to puncture and break. 

Water mattresses were at the height of popularity during the 1980s and were originally intended for use in medical therapies, but then got a modern reinvention in San Francisco just before becoming a highly popular mattress option in the US.

Although less common today, they still boast a variety of health benefits and are great to provide speedy relaxation and soothe sore muscles.

Air Mattresses – Everything You Need To Know

Air mattresses are a great option for a comfortable and easily portable night’s sleep without any hassle.

You can often pump them up within a few minutes and get several sizes to suit your needs.

The waterproof rubber or PVC outer layer also makes them a fantastic option for camping or as an occasional guest bed.

Medical Benefits

The health benefits from these mattresses are also a great selling point, with them being proven to ease back pains and prevent bedsores which make them a popular option for people with ill health who may spend more time in bed and want comfort without having to create too much movement.

Customizable Comfort

For guests, you can customize the firmness through the amount of air you use to blow them up, meaning in the long term you have a great option to suit any guests you might have staying with you. 

Many of the larger queen-sized blow-up mattresses feature separate inner compartments so couples have the option to blow up their side of the bed to their preference of firmness. 

Compact Size

With the ability to deflate into a fraction of their full size, these are your best option when it comes to needing a mattress to travel with.

Many camping and outdoor fanatics love the option of bringing air beds along as they are easily compact and multipurpose.

You can use them outdoors as a dry seating area, they also float on water if you want to relax! 


However, air mattresses can be a bad choice in the long term due as some have a lack of support.

For occasional use or relief from aching muscles, they are a great tool.

However, without support in the long term, this can lead to spinal issues as well as trouble getting a good night’s sleep.

Generally, air beds will last up to 8 years if used occasionally by guests, but with more frequent use they don’t tend to stand the test of time and can deteriorate.

With that deterioration comes wear and tear that prevents further use.

Water Mattresses Pros and Cons

Although less popular in the modern-day, water mattresses also feature a great number of health benefits and are a fun addition to any home.

However, these are not a portable choice and also have a long list of drawbacks you should follow if you plan on introducing one into your home.

Health Benefits

If you find you commonly sleep on your back then your shoulders, hips, knees and lower back will be under the pressure from your weight and this can cause issues if you aren’t sleeping in an optimal position. 

Waterbeds absorb this pressure from your joints and support your body into its natural position from your neck right down to the base of your spine to create ultimate comfort far more than regular foam or spring mattresses.

Allergy Sufferers

If you suffer from allergies then you will be happy to know these beds will be a great benefit to you.

Cleaning is a simple matter of wiping down with a damp cloth, as dust is so easily cleaned off this removes the ability for dust mites, mildew, and bacteria to grow or breed on the mattress.

So if you suffer from eczema, asthma, or even hay fever you may want to look into water mattresses as the way forward for a great night’s sleep. 

Set up

However, you should note that these mattresses also have a list of drawbacks that come with them that may leave you lying awake at night.

Setting these mattresses up can take several hours, and are very heavy once full making them immensely hard to move if you plan on rearranging your bedroom furniture.

They are also very prone to leaks and fixing these can be a very time-consuming task which sometimes requires draining the whole mattress to patch up, which isn’t necessarily something you want to be doing at 3 am.


Now we have looked into all the need-to-know information about both these mattresses, you may be wondering which one is best to suit your needs.

This is an important choice, so here are some points to think about to help you pick the right mattress that will work best for you. 

Multi-purpose and portability are going to be the air mattresses’ best features, with the easy use pump and deflation ability they are great for an on-the-go traveling option.

Although they can be a little on the heavy side, almost anyone will be able to use these mattresses without any difficulty or confusion.

You can easily hide these away once deflated and pack them up in a cupboard which makes them great for occasional guests or camping use.

While the same can not be said about water mattresses.

They are heavy and time consuming to set up.

They do not offer the option of being easily portable but as a long term investment, they may be the better option.

Costs can vary on these products and the amount you pay should always depend on how regularly you plan to use these items.

Air mattresses tend to be the cheaper option, but water mattresses are a much longer-term investment and will be around for a greater period than air mattresses in comparison.

For greater relaxation, you will find water mattresses provide the calming sensation needed to drift off to sleep or even meditate.

Many people who struggle with falling asleep at night have found these beds an invaluable piece of equipment to help them drift off into a longer, deeper sleep at night.

It is also reported that people who use water mattresses get better, longer stretches of deep sleep at night – this is the type of sleep that makes you feel rejuvenated and helps your body to repair itself.

Both of these mattresses are a great hypoallergenic option if you or someone you know has a severe allergy.

With a simple wipe down using a damp cloth, they are clean and ready to be used again and again without any lingering dust, mites, or hairs present. 

However, even with a great list of health benefits, a water mattress does have some serious implications you should consider and always be prepared for.

Consider just how much water will be contained in the mattress, and imagine that leaking or being punctured before you have a chance to act.

Many home insurance policies will also no longer cover if you have a water mattress in the building, so be sure to check with them first before you take the plunge into purchasing one of these mattresses.

Finally, sheets.

Something you may not consider beforehand, but having sheets will make both of these options a much more comfortable experience.

It can be hard to find sheets in the correct size for both of these types of mattresses.

The key is you must do your research beforehand to see if you can find retailers that cater to the size of your new mattress.


Both of these mattresses are a great option in any home, and hopefully, you’ve found some great information here to help you make the hard decision between an air mattress and a water mattress. 

Consider asking friends and family if they have any experience with these mattresses or even ask your local mattress store for any advice and recommendations they can provide to help suit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Waterbeds Less Common?

Waterbeds come with some issues that most other mattresses do not such as the need to treat the water with chemicals such as Clorox.

If you do not then the mattress can become a breeding ground for algae and mold. 

Why Does My Waterbed Smell?

Many times the initial unpleasant smell will be coming from the inside of your mattress.

Ensure you treat the water to kill any bacteria that may be growing inside and prevent any further odors.

Alternatively, if you have recently gotten your water mattress then it could just be an initial smell from the manufacturer’s packaging that should wear off after being aired out for a couple of days.

How Do I Choose an Air Mattress?

Consider the size of the space in which you will be putting your air mattress if you can blow it up yourself or require an automatic pump, how easily available bedding will be, and any other features you may want from your mattress.

What Height Should My Air Mattress Be?

Studies have shown the best height to have your air mattress at is roughly 18 inches high.

This means you can easily climb in and out of the bed without too much hassle, but you are still high enough off the ground to get the best comfort from this mattress.

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