Why Your RV Bed Is Uncomfortable and How to Fix It

Jonathan Prichard

Jonathan Prichard

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RV camping in park

The RV life can be challenging as is, with comfort being key to making the journey an enjoyable one.  We know just how important a good night’s sleep is to your quality of life, especially when traveling on the road.

We also have a deep understanding of the shortcomings of factory-installed RV mattresses, and how this can negatively affect your comfort.

Which brings us to the point of this guide: helping you fix or address an uncomfortable RV mattress.

Before We Get Started: Why Are RV Mattresses So Bad?

This is a very common question that we continue to receive, so we decided to add it to the top of this guide.

RV manufacturers spend a lot of money on engineering, design, layout, style, functionality and so on. All of which adds up to an expensive finished product with slim margins.

Sadly, this often leaves these manufacturers looking for ways to ‘cut corners’ that won’t be initially noticed by customers. One such detail where manufacturers are notorious for skimping out on is the RV mattress. After all, even if you briefly tested it on the showroom floor, you might not really understand just how bad it is until you have to spend a solid 8 hours on it.

"One such detail where manufacturers are notorious for skimping out on is the RV mattress"

Unlike a high quality or custom RV mattress, those installed by the manufacturer are almost always of the cheaply produced variety, often coming from mass production plants in China.

These mattresses are often made with poor-quality materials, causing them to break down quickly. This results in an uncomfortable mattress that provides very little support.

And on top of that, sometimes they’re also treated with harsh chemicals that can be irritative to the skin at best, and at worst off-gas dangerous fumes into the confined space of your RV.

Which Issue Are You Having?

Problem #1: Lower Back Aches

Most consumers tend to confuse support for firmness.

Firmness is a rating of how ‘firm’ the mattress is, or its resilience to sinking in when you lie down on it.

In contrast, support refers to the capability of the foam and other layers to support your spine and key joints while you sleep.

If you are waking up with lower back pain, it’s likely the result of either:

1. The mattress support failing
2. The mattress being too soft

Both of these issues are very difficult (if not impossible) to solve without replacing the mattress.

The Solutions

Mattress Topper

Bad Solution

New Mattress

Great Solution

Bar Shield

Decent Solution

Best Solution: A New Mattress

Most OEM RV mattresses are made from cheap fiberfill or recycled foam, due to the low cost of materials.

This type of mattress begins breaking down within one year or less of use, causing the very important support layer to no longer function properly.

This leads to back pain and other potential health issues.

Why Not Use a Topper?

The bottom line: Mattress toppers are not designed for support. They are designed for comfort.

If you are experiencing lower back aches, it’s almost certain that the support in your mattress is non-existent. If you add a topper to a mattress with little-to-no support, it will likely make the issue worse. 

Issues with the mattress’ support layer will be extremely difficult to overcome by simply adding an additional layer of comfort (no matter how good it is).

Instead, we suggest investing in a new RV mattress that is tailored specifically to your unique needs, body type, sleeping style, and more. The investment in a good RV mattress is one that can last for decades if well maintained, and is one that will pay off in spades from the first night you sleep in it.

Problem #2: The Mattress Is Too Firm

Firmness, as mentioned above, is the ability of the mattress to withstand the pounds of pressure per square inch of your body weight when you lay down, resisting this force and preventing you from sinking in.

Some firmness is a good thing! It provides a level of rigidity that some customers prefer for personal or medical reasons.

But a mattress that is too firm can cause a whole myriad of problems.

Excess firmness can result in excessive strain on your major pressure points including those in the hips, shoulders, and torso. If the mattress is extremely firm, it can also contribute to spinal misalignment while you sleep.

All of which can result in pain, stiffness, and/or soreness upon waking up.


Mattress Topper

Great Solution

New Mattress

Great Solution

Bar Shield

Decent Solution

Best Solutions: Mattress Topper, a New Mattress

When your mattress is too firm, a custom mattress topper might be the ideal solution.

Cost-effective and available in a broad range of styles, the right mattress topper can greatly enhance comfort and provide the level of firmness you need to get a good night’s rest.

Alternatively, buying a new RV mattress altogether is also a solid plan (budget permitting). This is especially true if your current mattress is the one that came with your RV.

Problem #3: The Mattress Is Too Soft

Ever seen those, “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercials?

Some soft mattresses can literally engulf you in the center, making it harder to get up than one of Mike Tyson’s opponents after an uppercut.

In other words, you’ll sink far in and there will be little-to-no firmness to support yourself as you get in or out of bed.

Not to mention, a mattress that is too soft will fail to provide adequate support for your joints, creating tension and/or strain as you sleep.

To add insult to injury, a mattress that is too soft can throw your spine out of whack, no matter your favored sleeping position. Something that will likely express itself loudly in the form of lower back pain throughout the night and into the next day.

The Solution

Mattress Topper

Bad Solution

New Mattress

Great Solution

Bar Shield

Decent Solution

Best Solution: A New Mattress

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot in terms of quick fixes that can be done about a mattress that is too soft.

Your best solution is almost always going to come in the form of a new mattress.

Here’s an important thing to note:

While a firm mattress can always be ‘topped’ with a softer layer, a soft mattress can’t easily be made firmer by doing the same. It will only make the situation worse.

The good news however, is that RV mattresses are available in a wide range of firmness levels that can be purchased to suit your particular sleeping style, weight, and needs!

Problem #4: I Can Feel My Partner's Every Move!

Motion transfer can be a major issue especially for partners or couples who have differing sleep habits.

The last thing you want is to wake up your partner or be woken up by their tossing and turning. This is a common problem we see most often with old-style coil mattresses and cheap factory installed RV mattresses.

Couple can't fall asleep


Mattress Topper

Great Solution

New Mattress

Great Solution

Bar Shield

Decent Solution

Memory Foam Mattress Topper

An entire new mattress not in the budget? Totally okay! A high-quality memory foam mattress topper can help to reduce motion transfer on your existing mattress.

Memory foam adapts and contours to body weight, form-fitting to each person’s movements and limiting motion transfer to the other side of the bed.

Mattress with Pocketed Coil System

RV mattresses utilizing a pocketed coil system are preferred for reducing motion transfer. These models utilize ‘pocketed’ coils or individual springs that are each encased in their own pocket of fabric.

This results in each spring expanding and compressing individually, acting independent of the other springs and reducing any motion transfer to other parts of the mattress.

Problem #5: Mattress Sleeps Too Hot

Person in bed unable to sleep

Are you what some would call ‘hot blooded’? Or perhaps you live or travel in a warmer climate where excessive heat is not only an annoyance, but a major sleep disruptor?

The structure of many mattresses is such that they retain too much heat. This is often due to poor internal air circulation, warm bedding materials, and materials that are not conducive to absorbing and dispersing heat.

All of which can leave you a feeling like a hot mess when all you want to do is catch some z’s.

The Solutions

Mattress Topper

Decent Solution

New Mattress

Great Solution

Bar Shield

Decent Solution

Best Solution: A New Mattress (Made With Appropriate Materials)

When it comes to mattresses that sleep ‘hot’ or ‘cool’, the most common culprit or contributor is the type of foam used.

If you tend to sleep on the warm side, keep some of these things in mind while searching for a new mattress.

Open Cell vs Closed Cell Foam

1. Open Cell Memory Foam

Open cell memory foam consists of cell walls that are broken, or ‘open’, creating a soft cushiony feel and allowing air to fill the spaces within the material.

This, combined with a lower density, allows for increased breathability and cooling.

How big of a difference can this make? Some studies have shown that open-cell foam technology can dissipate heat up to 7x more efficiently than closed cell.

2. Closed Cell Memory Foam

By contrast, closed cell memory foam consists of high-density foam with encapsulated cells that reduce airflow and absorb and retain heat.

Cooling Gel Memory Foam

Cooling gel can be part of the mattress itself, or purchased as a feature integrated into a mattress topper.

Cooling gel uses a unique gel layer, often composed of gel beads that form ‘pockets’ in a manner similar to that of open cell foam. This gel layer is made from material designed to absorb heat and efficiently disperse it away from your body, keeping you cool and comfortable all night long.

Keeping It Cool With Copper

Yes, you read that right copper! Did you know that copper is the second-most conductive element on Earth? Well today is your lucky day.

For those of us not elemental scientists, copper takes thermal energy (heat) and sucks it up like a hoover vacuum. But that’s not all copper is conductive as well as absorptive, meaning it transfers heat away from your body. Pretty neat, huh?

Some mattress toppers and mattresses integrate copper and/or copper and gel combinations to help you sleep cool and comfy.

Problem #6: The Mattress Is Too Thin (You Can Feel the Board!)

Unlike home mattresses that are almost always sufficiently thick enough to keep you from feeling any type of foundation underneath, RV mattresses are all too often the opposite, being uncomfortably thin.

Poorly constructed and thin RV mattresses tend to provide little barrier between you and the plywood base below, which can be massively uncomfortable.

So, what are your options?

The Solutions

Mattress Topper

Decent Solution

New Mattress

Great Solution

Bar Shield

Decent Solution

Best Solution: A New Mattress or Mattress Topper

Ultimately the best solution is going to depend on your unique situation. 

In many cases, the only option you have is to use a thin mattress (in bunk spaces, for example). In this case, purchasing a high-quality thin RV mattress might be the best option.

RV Mattress Topper

Available in a wide range of styles and options, the mattress topper is a versatile and affordable way to improve the comfort of a thin mattress.

New RV Mattress

Out with the old and in with the new!

A new mattress is an investment that almost no one regrets you simply can’t put a price on comfort and a good night’s sleep.

Your Best Solutions for an Uncomfortable RV Mattress

There you have it! The best ways to fix an uncomfortable RV mattress.

Have questions? Interested in shopping for a new RV mattress or topper? We’re here to help make sure you get the best sleep of your life!

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