When you think of an air mattress, you probably think of an uncomfortable, squeaking balloon that feels more like a waking nightmare than a decent night of sleep. They lose air, the cheaper versions can feel much less stable than a real mattress, and they are cold. Especially in the winter. Believe it or not, though, there are a few things that you can do to add comfort and minimize the frost factor if you find yourself needing to sleep on an air mattress for a night (or several).
Whether you are spending a few nights roughing it out in the wilderness or sleeping on an air mattress as an overnight guest, you’ll want to be prepared for the lack of heat provided by the bed. Because the aptly named “air” mattress contains no insulation, the chill from the floor below can be felt throughout the night, often keeping you from a restful sleep.
Use an insulating material (e.g., thick blanket, sleeping bag, or space blanket) either above or below the air mattress to physically separate yourself from the cold. Additionally, you should layer your clothing and try preheating your air mattress with a warm water bottle for 15-20 minutes before getting into bed.
Use A Cold Blocking Barrier
The number one option that campers and house guests alike will swear by is a layering system. If you’re in the great outdoors, you may choose to place a layer between the floor and the air mattress or between the air mattress and your body. Having this extra cold-stopping material is an excellent first step to preparing for a warm night. Here are some common layers that people use.
- A thick blanket. Because air mattresses are often made from vinyl, plastic, and other materials that do nothing for your body heat, the blanket will protect you from the cold of the bed itself. To prevent the blanket from shifting as you sleep, use a bottom bed sheet to cover the mattress and keep the blanket in place.
- A sleeping bag. Try opening and spreading it either across the top of the air mattress or below it. The thickness of most sleeping bags will also add a layer of comfort to the top of the bed. I personally recommend using a Coleman Cold Weather Sleeping Bag (Link to Amazon), not only can I use it in cold weather environments (i.e. winter camping), but it works just as well at regulating my temperature while inside a house too. I’ve had my fair share of poorly insulated sleep bags while sleeping on cold unforgiving air mattresses and can say without a doubt that this incredibly warm sleeping bag is by far my favorite.
- A memory foam topper. This is ideal if you are looking for something that will not only add warmth but will also provide more comfort while you’re trying to get some rest. This option might not be the most convenient as far as packing and storage go, but when you know that you’re in for a frigid night – it is definitely worth the effort. I recently picked up a mattress topper for this very reason, and can tell you without a doubt has been one of my best purchases for comfort and warmth while sleeping on an air mattress. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to stay warm – LINENSPA Memory Foam Mattress Topper (Link to Amazon).
- A space blanket. These are great for helping to keep the heat in when sleeping on the floor. You may have seen these emergency foil-like blankets in sporting stores or online, but they have been used to help regulate body temperatures, even outside of emergency situations – such as athletes who want to maintain their body heat and in the military. To make a Mylar blanket work for you, place it under the air mattress, that way you don’t have to work about the crunching as you move around in your sleep. (Source)
When it comes to layering for warmth, don’t just stop at the bed sheets! We typically think of layers when we’re out braving the elements, but these layers can also prove to be useful while you’re asleep as well. When packing your evening clothing, be sure to throw in a few extra items, such as thermals or long johns.
Other options for layers include a beanie and thick socks. These are great for helping to maintain body heat as your extremities and uncovered areas will feel the effects of the cold more than your core.
Add A Little Heat
A hot water bottle is inexpensive, yet a very effective way to keep any bed warm. The safest way to warm the air mattress is to fill the water bottle with hot water (it’s suggested that you don’t use boiling water to prevent burns) and place it between the sheets 15-20 minutes before you plan to climb into bed.
While we don’t recommend that you sleep with the hot water bottle, if you do plan to keep it in the bed throughout the night, be sure to use a cover as the outer material can get hot enough to burn your skin.
If your in-laws swear by their new air mattress on your next visit, but you aren’t so sure, try setting up a portable heater.
Consider the Placement
Whether your air mattress is making its home in a tent or your cousin’s basement, the placement in the space can prove to be chilling. Keep the bed as far away from openings with drafts as possible.
A light breeze from a cracked window or door can be enough to keep you awake through the night.
In a tent, you should also try to keep the air mattress away from the walls. Overnight the dew and cold condensation in the air will build on the outside of the tent; if you are sleeping directly against the walls, you will feel the cold much more.
Even though air mattresses have come a long way over the years, you may still find that they maintain a certain chill while you’re trying your best to sleeping comfortably. Fortunately, with the extra tips above, you can leave the coldness outside. While you may not be sleeping at the Four Seasons, a little preparation will get you through all four seasons on your air mattress.