An air mattress is an inflatable mattress, usually made of plastic or textile-reinforced plastic or rubber. The deflated mattress can be rolled up and carried or stored relatively easily, making air mattresses a popular choice for camping trips and for temporary bedding at home for guests.
They are inflated either orally, by blowing into a valve, or with a manual, foot-powered or electric pump. Traditional mattresses sizes are available — twin, full, queen, king, etc. — and standard sheets should fit, albeit sometimes more snugly. Lightweight, reduced-size air mattresses specifically intended for camping and backpacking, often called sleeping pads, are also available.
Ruggedly-built air mattresses have come on the market in recent years that are intended for full time use in the home. Often mounted on a special foundation, they are made of durable plastic- or rubber-impregnated fabrics, and are usually equipped with an electric pump and a firmness controller.
For double beds they have the advantage that each half of the bed has its own firmness control. This type of product is usually called an air bed, to distinguish it from camping mattresses. Some individuals who relocate frequently prefer an air bed over a traditional mattress due to its portability.
The term air mattress may also refer to a certain inflatable swimming pool toy, which has an air-sac “pillow” and several (usually four or five) tubes running its length. Also called a “lilo” (UK), “pool air mat”, “air mat”, “pool lounge”, or “float(ing) mat(tress)”, it is used to recline on the surface of a swimming pool. Although it bears some resemblance to an air mattress, it is typically not built as strong and may not reliably stay inflated all night long, making it impractical for use as a bed.
They call it an air bed. Air bed, as if that changes the fact that it’s nothing but an ordinary air mattress with a little automatic electronic pump attached to it. I’ve had to sleep on this air mattress for the past two weeks now. And I’ll continue to have to sleep on this air mattress for another month, while my sister and her fiancée are in town.