This post was most recently updated on March 14th, 2019
If you live in a studio apartment, dorm, guest house, or another small area, having enough space can be a challenge. Every square inch matters.
Most studio apartments measure approximately 200-400 square feet. Your average dorm room or guest room is smaller. Things are cramped even before we get to your bed.
The average single adult prefers a queen-sized mattress. Twin and full mattresses can be a bit small, and a King size is just too big – and often makes you feel lonely.
Assuming you have or want a new queen mattress – a queen bed measures in at 60″ wide by 80″ long. That works out to about 33.33 square feet. Let’s just call it 33′.
That means your mattress is taking up about 10-20% of your total space just by itself – which is a fairly significant amount.
What can we do about this?
Obviously, you need to sleep on something – the floor won’t cut it.
The majority of the time, a mattress probably doesn’t bother you too much. But what if you have a few friends over? What if you need space to work on a temporary project? Then you want as much space as possible.
If only we could get a disposable mattress right? We can’t do that, but we can actually come close!
Air mattresses used to be relegated to camping trips, temporary guests, etc. That was when an air mattress was just a huge inflatable balloon. They were uncomfortable, noisy, and just an overall inconvenience. Have you ever rubbed an inflated balloon? Then you know what I’m referring to.
They offered no structure, and often suffered from leaks after just a few uses. They were great as a concept – but not very practical in real life. They felt more like an inflatable pool float than a bed.
That was then.
Air mattresses today have come a long way. They’re much more than just a huge plastic bag. Some offer options that a regular mattress just can’t match. The air mattress of yesterday was designed with portability and temporary use in mind. Today’s mattresses are designed for comfort and everyday use.
Previous generations of air mattresses came with a manual pump. It was a serious workout getting them inflated – not to mention how long it would take. And if yours came with an electric pump, good luck using it if you had roommates – they were loud!
The majority of air mattresses today come with high quality and quiet electronic pumps built into the mattress. These pumps are activated by a single push button and can inflate the mattress in under 5 minutes. They usually deflate completely in under a minute.
Having some friends come over? Just deflate the mattress and stash it away in your closet.
The party is over and you want to go to bed? Bring the mattress out and hit the inflate button. Your bed will be ready by the time you’re done brushing your teeth. Pretty convenient right?
Comparison of old and new
Older air mattresses were often made with weird random sizes – at the whim and discretion of the manufacturer. These strange and unique sized mattresses meant that you were stuck using the sheets provided (if any). As these mattresses were mainly for recreational use, they were designed as such.
Today’s air mattresses are manufactured in standard sizes, like Twin, Full, Queen, or even King. You can use the sheets that you already own – or walk into any store and buy a new set. You’re not stuck with the proprietary sizes that are impossible to find.
Air mattresses used to come with no cover. It was just a big plastic bag. The mattresses of today are covered in plush fabric. Which means no noise if you move, an added layer of comfort, and one less area that you might poke into.
Mattress of old had no structure. They were strictly an air balloon. These mattresses were commonly very uneven, had bulges on the sides, and were too soft – you would sink right in.
Newer versions are built for comfort, not just convenience. That means they actually have structure – just like a traditional bed. They use multiple baffles and air coils to provide an adequate firmness required for a comfortable night’s sleep. More coils = more pressure points = more structure.
The pump –
Previous generations either came with a manual pump or an unattached electronic pump. Your worst case scenario was pumping by hand, and your best case was a pump that would do the job for you – rather slowly. Either way, it was one more part to keep track of.
Today’s mattresses come with much stronger pumps, which are built-in. They work fast, and they’re impossible to lose.
Different settings –
More deluxe versions offer separate and dedicated air chambers for each side. In essence, they are basically a “Sleep Number” mattress. This allows couples to individually choose the firmness that they prefer.
These are basically two smaller mattresses encased into one – allowing each partner their preference of firmness.
Since air mattresses were invented for recreational use, this meant that manufacturers and retailers could charge you an arm and a leg. Air mattresses of queen and king sizes used to sell for around $500.
As with everything else, improved technology, and widespread use and acceptance has brought prices down. These days, you can usually buy a high-quality air mattress for under $200. You might spend a little more if you want a mattress that can handle variable firmness settings – but they’re still a bargain.
Example air mattress
Let’s take a look at a modern example to see how it all works out. The model shown below is the Dream Series Air Mattress with ComfortCoil Technology from SoundAsleep.
Just by looking at it, you can tell how different it is from older useless air mattresses. It has sectional baffles horizontally, 40 vertical air coils, a plush blue top covering, and the air pump built into the side.
Lightweight and small – When deflated and rolled up, this mattress measures about 17″ x 13″ x 7″, and weighs approximately 19 pounds. That’s basically the size and weight of a case of water bottles.
Built-in high capacity pump – The pump is both powerful, yet quiet. It is rated at 120VAC, 60Hz, 0.9 amps, and 105 watts.
The knob itself toggles left to deflate, or right to inflate. Full inflation is under 4 minutes. You can stop the inflation process sooner for your preferred firmness.
Material – The mattress is made of Eco-friendly PVC, and is puncture proof. It is designed to handle up to 500 pounds – which should be enough for most couples.
Grip – A major reason why air mattresses were inconvenient as far as daily use was concerned, is that they had a plastic surface, on both the top, as well as the bottom. That meant that the mattress would slide around, especially on a wooden surface, when there was “activity” on the bed. Beds aren’t just for sleeping right?
The “Sure-Grip” bottom on this mattress prevents unwanted sliding – which means you can enjoy your “social” activities without interruption.
Coils – Traditional mattresses have metal spring coils. They provide multiple pressure points so the mattress stays even. Without them, you would sink in.
The SoundAsleep air mattress has 40 individual air columns that act as coils, to offer structure and support.
Whichever mattress you decide to go with, take a moment and read the reviews. You can really learn a lot by reading other users’ experiences.
For example, the Dream Series mattress from SoundAsleep currently has over 14,000 reviews available. These are reviews from regular people, not paid endorsers. If you’re curious, click on the blue link to read them.
Whether you want to free up room in your studio or dorm; or if you want to use your guest room for yourself, an air mattress can be quite convenient. Deflated and rolled up, they can fit into any closet – even a small one.
While the air mattresses of today are well-built and should stand the test of time, they still cost about 20% of what a quality traditional mattress costs. A traditional mattress should last you about 8-10 years – which means you could have a brand new mattress every two years for the same price.