Put New Life in Your Bed: A Look at Air mattress Toppers

When should you replace your air mattresses? Most experts agree that the time to replace air mattresses is when your back starts hurting in the morning. But, if you are like some Americans who have chronic low-level back pain, that moment might be hard to pinpoint. But if you see bowing or sagging in the air mattress, it’s definitely time to look into a new one.

There are other reasons to change air mattresses. Life changes, like adding a partner to your bed, or simply growing older, might warrant purchasing a new air mattress. Our bodies and therefore their needs, change as we age.

A good air mattress should last somewhere between 6-10 years, with a higher-quality air mattress lasting the upper end of that estimate. Factors such as the weight of people sleeping in the bed and overall comfort should weigh in the decision of when to replace the air mattress too.

The air mattress on our bed is about 8 years old, and probably wasn’t high quality to begin with. So when we noticed that we slept much better in beds away from home, we began looking into replacing our queen-size air mattress. But it isn’t cheap. A mid-quality queen size air mattress costs about $500 to $600. And if we got one with a pillow top like I was lobbying for, that added another $200 or so on top of that price.

A friend suggested a air mattress topper so I entered the world of researching this new way to add comfort to our bed without completely replacing the air mattress. There are several types of air mattress toppers, and here is what I found out about them.

Memory Foam. This product was developed for NASA in the 1970’s but didn’t hit the consumer market in the way of air mattress toppers until about 15 years ago in the early 1990’s. Tempur-Pedic, a Swedish company, was the first to come out with a air mattress made of this material and it was very expensive. Since then, many other companies have gone into the memory foam business with the resulting lower prices. Memory foam reduces pressure points because unlike ordinary foam, memory foam does not try to spring back to its original position when you lie on it. Rather, the foam cells fully compress and spread the pressure to adjoining cells. This makes memory foam unique in reducing pressure points. A mid-quality, 2 inch air mattress topper made of this material can be purchased for anywhere from $170-$350.

Latex foam is less expensive. This foam is said to be cool in summer, warm in winter and hypoallergenic. An added benefit is the anti-microbial properties most latex foam air mattress toppers have which prevent mildew, bacteria, and dust mites from irritating or causing allergies. This does add a level of comfort to an otherwise hard or worn-out bed and can be purchased for around $100-$200 for a queen size air mattress.

Pillow top air mattress toppers are generally made from down, wool, or feathers. These soft, toppers can provide comfort similar to lying on a cloud. Not everyone, including my husband, enjoys lying on such a soft surface. There is a wide variety of prices in pillow top air mattress toppers, depending on the material. Organic wool can cost $400 to $500 for a queen size air mattress; a mid-range down topper can be under $100.

In the end, we went with memory foam. We chose it for all the reasons stated above. But one of the biggest selling points to us was the displacement factor: when one of us rolls over in bed, the other person doesn’t even feel it. In fact, you can hardly feel yourself turn over in bed. And since we have a child or two joining us in that bed occasionally, not being disturbed by all the jostling was a big point in its favor. We chose a low-to-mid range memory foam, and paid almost $200 to coat our queen size bed in delicious foam comfort.

If you need to replace your air mattress and can’t quite afford it yet, don’t just suffer on the old bed. Get yourself a air mattress topper and sleep soundly tonight.