How to Make an Air Mattress More Comfortable

If you've recently bought an air mattress or sleeping pad and struggling with getting a good night's sleep using it, check out the tips we're covering in this article.

Not every air mattress is created equally and if you are out camping and drop one of them down on a hard-packed surface, it may not be the most comfortable thing in the world. Because we’re talking about an air mattress here, the primary source of comfort (or lack thereof) is the air in the mattress. 

Almost everything that makes an air mattress more comfortable is an accessory, to one degree or another, and the best place to start is to find an air mattress that is already comfortable. The rest is a matter of circumstance and choice of accessories. 

A major part of maintaining or increasing an air mattress’s level of comfort is keeping the air inside of it, which means tape and glue are an eventuality, not an option. All air mattresses eventually start to lose their air, usually through a slow leak that you won’t even notice until you wake up like the filling in a taco. 

Picking out the right air mattress

an oragne thermarest mattress on grass
Image credits: Rick McCharles

If you’re looking for the most comfortable air mattress or a good base from which to work on increasing the comfort level, you have to find a quality air mattress. One thing that is a certainty is that, when it comes to air mattresses, you get exactly what you pay for. If you’re on a solo camping trip, you do want to keep it lightweight, so your choices narrow just a bit. 

SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress

You can get this air mattress in twin, queen, and king sizes and it is largely considered to be one of the more comfortable air mattresses on the market today. It’s one of the taller air mattress designs that have come out in recent years and it features puncture-resistant PVC, which is a must for maintaining comfort.

The SoundAsleep mattress is more than just a balloon shaped like a bed. When you air it up, there are 40 chambers to fill, each shaped like a spring coil that you would find in a typical, in-home bed. These coil-shaped chambers offer more comfort than traditional air mattresses.

Also, the pump is built in, with a King size mattress inflating to full in six minutes, all at the press of a button on the foot of the bed. 

Coleman Premium SupportRest Airbed

Another air mattress design that features air coils, rather than a single, large chamber, the Coleman Premium contours to the body, while the double-lock valve protects the air mattress from leaking. 

It comes with its own, zippered storage bag for easy transportation and inflates in minutes. However, it does require that you bring a pump along with you because it doesn’t have an internal one. 

While neither of these mattresses is going to break the bank, you can see the difference in the price of a quality air mattress versus a cheap one. If you want to make the most comfortable air mattress, your choice of air mattress is the nucleus of the entire task. 

Make use of pads and/or covers

green sleeping pad on hard ground

The air inside of the air mattress can work against you. For instance, when it is cold outside, the air in the air mattress is cold and you will feel every bit of it. When the Summer rolls around, the air in the mattress will get hot.

You can minimize this with the right choice of pads, blankets, and sheets. During the summer, stick with light, springy sheets that don’t retain a lot of warmth. When winter comes around, you can switch to thick padding, heavier blankets, and quilts. 

Air mattress covers

Air mattress covers serve two purposes. The first, is that it creates an added layer of protection for the air mattress, especially if you are camping out and the air mattress will be exposed to the great outdoors. 

The second is an additional layer that increases the comfort level of your air mattress. If you are looking for both added comfort and protection, mattress covers that come with cotton and polyester or microfiber padding are excellent choices, as well as being an added thermal layer in the winter. 

For protection and comfort in the winter, you can go with thinner and lighter polyester covers that are water resistant and cool during the summer. You would be surprised at how much a difference even the thinnest of materials can make.

Don’t skimp on the pillows

If you truly want a more comfortable experience with your air mattress, you need to add pillows. Now, it’s understandable that pillows are probably detrimental if you are using them on a camping trip and many air mattresses today come equipped with built-in pillows that inflate along with the mattress. 

However, if you’re just going on a relaxing, family camping trip, there’s no reason not to bring along some extra pillows because they can quickly convert a standard air mattress into a king’s or queen’s luxury. 

The types of pillows that you decide to go with matter as well. After all, we all know that pillows play a large role in keeping your spine in alignment as you sleep. We’re not shilling for EverPillow, but they manufacture original and curve pillows that are primarily the kind of pillows we are referring to here. 

Invest in a good topper

white van with brown wooden door
Image credits: Clay Banks

Of course, a lot of air mattresses come with their own, built-in toppers nowadays but what’s the harm in adding another? Better yet, what’s the harm in adding one to an air mattress that doesn’t have a topper built-in?

If you buy a topper, it’s pretty easy to just add it to the mattress and then pull your mattress cover down over it, as you would do in a normal bed. Gel-infused air mattress toppers are one of the best choices that you can go with, as they are designed to accommodate your spine as well as keep you cool during the Summer. 

For instance, the Linenspa gel memory foam mattress topper is filled with gel beads, which are designed to disperse the heat away from your body. This one in particular also comes with an antimicrobial layer that will resist allergens and certain insects. 

For colder months, especially when you don’t want your heat dissipated by the technology in your topper, you can go with a more plush design with latex or other materials that are better at holding in heat to help keep you warm and snug when the snowflakes are falling.

💡 Note: If you’re interested in a mattress topper, we’ve written an entire article covering the 10 best and most comfortable mattress toppers.

Consider going with a mattress riser

These things are like the traditional, folding chairs that everyone seems to have when they are camping. It can be a bit much, however, especially if you’re solo camping and not looking to pack on a ton of weight on your journey. 

It’s a little more feasible for slow-going, family trips to a primitive camp site but it can still be a bit cumbersome, so it’s up to you whether it’s worth it or not. The one thing that a mattress riser provides is keeping your air mattress elevated from the ground, making it easier to stay both cool and warm during the opposing seasons. 

However, it’s more efficient in the cold months, when you really want to keep your mattress off of the ground, avoiding the transference from the cold ground into your air mattress, which will rapidly cool the air within. It’s one of the many ways that you can stay warm when camping during the winter months. 

Use bed sheet holders if you need to

white diamond bed sheet
Image credits: Josefin

One of the problems with air mattresses is that they move around a whole lot more than bigger, bulkier, heavier beds do. Most of the movement is an energy transfer from your own movements. Even if you inflate your air mattress to the maximum, there is still going to be a higher level of bounciness. 

This will often cause your fitted cover sheets to release their corner grips and that’s where some good sheet holders come in. Sheet holders are designed to convert standard sheets into fitted sheets but they can also be used to extend the grip on your fitted sheets and keep the corners tucked down tight. 

You’ll often find that you need them with many of the taller air mattresses, some of which can be as thick as 20”. If you stop and think about that, a 20” thick, full-size air mattress is going to be too much for a full-size fitted sheet. 

On the flip side, a queen-fitted sheet will be too much. A bed sheet holder strap will give your fitted cover or sheet more reach on the corners, keeping it on all night long, which is definitely a more comfortable way to sleep. 

Final thoughts

For the most part, increasing the level of comfort in your air mattress is all about what you can add to it while maintaining your comfort level—in terms of how much you can carry or bring along—and maximizing the comfort of the air mattress. There are a lot of ways to get it done so feel free to mix and match until you find the combinations that are most comfortable for you.

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Thomas Godwin

Thomas Godwin is a writer and Marine Corps veteran with a degree in Creative Writing from the Full Sail University. He has been writing content for HeadlessNomad since 2021. Being a veteran, Thomas knows pretty much everything there is to know about the use of paracord, how boots should fit, and nature in general.