Air Mattress vs memory foam & other

Hi all - new to the forum and site. WOW there’s a ton of information on here!

So my wife and I are looking for a new mattress. Of course we’ve started looking at the major brands. Big issue is that we have opposite preferences - I have lower back pain and toss and turn between back and stomach (and sometimes side) all night. I prefer a firm mattress while she likes soft.

That said - wouldn’t an air mattress be our best bet? Looking at sleep number and comfortaire (though comfortaires availability in our area of va beach is almost nonexistent). With that we could have our separate settings - but with anything else I think it would be tough for both of us to be happy. While I love he idea of soft or memory foam (it feels great when I test them out), I don’t know that i would help my back pain. And again - my wife really doesn’t want a firm mattress.

Thoughts? Recommendations?

Also - any reputable mattress shops/stores in the va beach/Hampton roads area in Virginia other than the usual suspects (chain stores)?

Thanks in advance.

Hi Mole351,

An air bladder is only a support layer of a mattress even though it is most commonly used as a “type” or category of mattress. All support layers (including air bladders) will also have comfort layers on top of them that will make a big difference in the performance and feel of the mattress. A support layer also has to be adaptable to movement and changes in position and air is either not compressed at all (with no weight on it) or fully compressed (with weight on it) and there is nothing in between unless it is manually adjusted for each change in position.

Softness and firmness is also relative to each person (and their height, weight, body shape, and sleeping positions). In many cases … people who are looking for “soft” are describing their preference for the comfort layers of the mattress (it’s pressure relieving properties) which has much less to do with the support layers. In other cases … people are more sensitive to the support layers that are deeper in the mattress and will use soft or firm to describe support (spinal alignment). In other cases … softness or firmness is just a subjective “feeling” that is different for each person and depends on how the components and layers of the mattress interact with each person. This is the reason that many people who have a similar height and weight will describe the same mattress very differently.

The properties of air bladders should be compared to other types of support layers or components and when this is done … it becomes apparent that air is one of the worst possible choices compared to foam, innersprings, or latex both in terms of performance and value. There is much more about this here.

In most cases … the choice of where you buy a mattress can be a more important first step than trying to decide which mattress to buy. The more the outlet (or person helping you) knows and is willing to help you find the best choices for you (rather than the store’s profit margin or the salespersons commission) the better the odds that you will make better choices. This article may help you avoid most of the traps and pitfalls of mattress shopping and this article will help you recognize the qualities of better outlets and more knowledgeable people. The more they know and the more they are willing to use their knowledge to help you … the less you have to know.

You have some good options in your area and these are the ones where I would focus my attention … They are a local factory direct manufacturer which produces very high quality latex mattresses. They have a wide range of options and Cheryl Hahn (the owner) pays strict attention to every detail that goes into her mattresses down to the last thread. They are are among the “greenest” manufacturers in the country (they produce their own power) and are among the best choices for those who are looking for a green manufacturer who makes high quality mattresses that use natural and/or organic materials. A mattress purchase here also provides a lifetime membership in their “cuddle-up club” which provides a 20% discount on their bedding toppers and other products. They also provide the option to choose a side to side split where each side of the mattress can have different layering for the different preferences of a couple. They are also manufacturing members of this site which means they provide a 5% discount for any members of the forum here (just let them know you are a member). They are a regional factory direct manufacturer which makes a full range of more “traditional” innerspring/polyfoam mattresses that use high quality materials and have good value. They also make two latex models (two sided with an inch of polyfoam quilting on each side) and a high quality memory foam mattress as well. They are also well worth including in your research. They are a local retail outlet that carries several alternative brands including Pure Latex Bliss, Restonic, Dormia, and Paramount (HD) that may have better value (depending on the models they carry and the prices they charge). While a retail outlet doesn’t usually have the same quality or value of a local manufacturer … they carry some better options compared to the more typical chain stores and major brands. These types of outlets may require more knowledge and detailed research and questions than shopping at a factory direct manufacturer though because they will often not have the knowledge or know the details of foam and the components in all their mattresses that is the only way to determine real quality and value.

Hope this helps.