I slept on a budget blow up mattress for 4 months—here's what happened

College calls for desperate measures

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Before I begin the tale of how and why I voluntarily slept on an air mattress for four months, I’d like to begin by saying this:

  • I am indeed a normal person, I swear.
  • I never thought I would use an air mattress as a bed for four months.
  • I cannot believe I am sharing this story with you.

Now that the necessary groundwork has been laid for this story, here it goes.

Why I slept on an air mattress for four months

My senior year of college, I moved into an apartment with only one semester left in my academic career. I knew I would only be here for four months, so I wanted to expend as little energy as possible to make the transition. In the spirit of laziness, I had no desire to shop for a bed. Investing in a frame and a mattress seemed like a waste of money at the time, and investing the energy to move my bed from home seemed wasteful. As I shopped around online, I had an absurd epiphany while scrolling through the bedding results on Amazon… I could just use an air mattress, right?!

I found a queen-sized air mattress that honestly looked more like a raft than a bed. But it was only $50, so I took to the 6,000 reviews to find out what other people thought about it. Maybe it only looked like a raft. After falling into the review wormhole and comparing this mattress to other brands, I felt like the one I found couldn’t disappoint, especially for only $50—so I bought it.

Getting the air mattress: A promising start

My friends made fun of me at first for bringing an air mattress to school as my bed. They thought I was crazy, and maybe I was. But the ease of moving into my apartment was well worth it. All I had to do was take the mattress out of its bag and inflate it. As a bonus I put a memory-foam topper on it to protect my back from potential torture. I was determined to prove to my friends that this $50 mattress was going to be just as good as a real bed.

Intex Bed
Credit: Amazon

Every night for the next three months (more on that in a minute), I slept on my air mattress half expecting to wake up on the floor on top of a deflated mess. But to my surprise, the “raft” (as my bed was affectionately referred to in the house) stayed plump and intact.

When you sleep on an inflated bed every day, of course a bit of air can escape. I had to top off the mattress with air every 3-4 days, but this only took about 5 minutes to do. But I made sure not to jump on the bed, drag it across the floor, or do anything that would provoke it popping. I positioned the bed near an outlet too, so I could hook up the internal pump for routine refills, which were quick and easy.

After successfully making it through three months of peaceful sleep on this thing, I figured my ‘bed’ would never deflate. I knew it wouldn’t let me down! I bragged to my friends, who always threatened to pop it anyway. (I swear they are good people.)

But with only one month left in the semester, my beloved raft did indeed begin to sink.


The man is life, the child is me. (via GIPHY)

A slight malfunction with one month left to go

One morning, I woke up on the cold, hardwood floor, with multiple Snapchats in my inbox from my amused roommates. There I was, on this gorilla’s nest that was once my bed. The damage seemed irreparable, but I refused to give up on my raft with only one month left. Assuming it was a hole that caused the major leak, I grabbed the patch kit that conveniently came with the bed, and enlisted a friend help me find the hole.

I blew up the bed and stripped the sheets, and had my friend lay atop the mattress as we listened for the faintest whistle. He joked, “I honestly can’t believe it lasted this long.” He was right, I couldn’t believe it took three months of constant use (also known as abnormal wear and tear) for the thing to deflate.

We finally found the hole, which was no larger than the tip of a pin, and patched it up. From then on, my raft wasn’t really the same—I now had to top the air off every 1-2 days, and had to be extra careful not to wear jewelry in bed. But hey, at least I didn’t wake up on the floor again! It held up well enough for the remaining month, and although it required a little extra care, it was still a comfortable air bed. All in all, I’d say my accidental sleep experiment was a success.

Side note: This is the only flaw of any air mattress—the tiniest hole can ruin everything. But just make sure you have an extra patch kit. They are life-savers.

Here’s what I learned from the 4-month experience

Sleeping on an air mattress for four months sounds insane, I know. But I did learn a few things from the experience.

  • Using an air mattress as a bed is NOT for people who suffer from back pain. To me, the bed was extremely comfortable with the memory-foam mattress topper, and I never had any back pain—but then again, I never do anyway. Those used to firm beds would probably struggle sleeping on an inflated surface.
  • Sleeping on an air mattress can get very cold. Some nights I would wake up freezing, having to layer blankets between myself and the bottom sheet on the mattress just to warm up. This happened on chilly fall and winter nights when our heat was running on low, and the floor was particularly cold. Maybe I should’ve placed a rug underneath the raft? Oh well.
  • This Intex air mattress is WELL worth the $50 price tag—especially since competitors charge almost double. I literally slept on this mattress EVERY NIGHT for four months. The fact that this air mattress survived in a college apartment and only deflated once is beyond impressive. If that isn’t a test of true strength, durability, and worth, then I really don’t know what is.
Credit: Patricia Camerota
Actual footage of me waking up in "the raft"

Would I do this again by choice? Ha! No way. But I buy this Intex air mattress over and over again. It’s perfect for when friends sleep over, and for bringing on short trips—you really can’t go wrong with the price.

My next mission is to try out the mothership of air mattresses, the SoundAsleep queen air bed which boasts a 4.5-star rating from over 13,000 reviews. If I could sleep on the Intex for four months (which I highly recommend as a low-cost option) then I wonder how long I could last on the SoundAsleep!

Buy the Intex queen-sized inflatable mattress for $59.99 on Amazon

Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but may change over time.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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