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Alternating Pressure Mattress: Complete Guide

From the Puffy Editorial Team | 5 min read.
Alternating Pressure Mattress: Complete Guide

The world of sleep technology brings continuous innovations aimed at improving sleep quality and health. One such development is the alternating pressure mattress, a specialized mattress designed for specific health needs. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what an alternating pressure mattress is, its uses, benefits, and how to choose the best one.

What Is an Alternating Pressure Mattress?

  • Definition: An alternating pressure mattress is a therapeutic bed designed to prevent pressure sores and ulcers by inflating and deflating air cells within the mattress in a rhythmic pattern.
  • Function: This alternating pattern reduces prolonged pressure on any part of the body, particularly critical for bedridden patients or those with limited mobility.

How to Use Alternating Pressure Mattress


  • Placement: The mattress should be carefully placed on a standard bed frame. Ensure that the frame is sturdy and supports the mattress evenly.
  • Connection to Electric Pump: Attach the mattress to the electric pump, ensuring all connections are secure and free from obstruction. Double-check that the hoses are properly connected and not twisted.
  • Power Source: Plug the pump into a reliable power outlet. If available, use a surge protector to safeguard against electrical fluctuations and ensure uninterrupted operation.


  • Initial Inflation: Turn on the pump to inflate the mattress. It’s important to let the mattress fully inflate before use, which may take several minutes.
  • Adjustable Settings: Familiarize yourself with the pump’s settings. Most pumps allow you to adjust the inflation and deflation intervals to suit the user’s comfort level and medical requirements.
  • Regular Monitoring: Keep an eye on the mattress’s inflation levels and listen for any unusual sounds from the pump, which might indicate a need for maintenance or adjustments.

Best Alternating Pressure Mattress

Key Features to Consider

  • Adjustable Pressure Settings: A crucial feature that allows customization according to individual comfort and therapeutic needs.
  • Ease of Cleaning: Look for mattresses with covers that are easy to clean and maintain, as hygiene is critical, especially in medical settings.
  • Material Durability: The mattress materials should be robust and puncture-resistant to withstand regular use and the stress of inflation and deflation cycles.
  • Backup Features: Consider mattresses with features like battery backups, which can be invaluable during power outages.

While Puffy mattresses are designed for the general public and focus on overall comfort and support, an alternating pressure mattress offers specific therapeutic benefits for those with particular medical needs.

Interested in how Puffy stacks up against other brands? Check out our mattress comparisons: Puffy vs Purple, Puffy vs Nectar, Puffy vs Casper, Puffy vs Leesa, Puffy vs Saatva, Puffy vs DreamCloud, and Puffy vs Tuft and Needle.

Low Air Loss Mattress vs Alternating Pressure Mattress

Understanding the differences between a low air loss mattress and an alternating pressure mattress is crucial for selecting the right option based on specific health needs and comfort preferences. Here’s an extended comparison of the two:

Low Air Loss Mattress

  • Functionality: Low air loss mattresses are designed to provide a constant flow of air, which helps to keep the skin dry and comfortable. They are particularly beneficial for managing moisture and improving air circulation.
  • Ideal Use: These mattresses are often recommended for patients with burns, skin grafts, or those prone to skin maceration due to sweating or incontinence.
  • Comfort Level: Generally, they provide a stable and cooler sleep surface, which can be more comfortable for patients who are bedridden for long periods.

Alternating Pressure Mattress

  • Functionality: Alternating pressure mattresses feature air cells that inflate and deflate at set intervals, thereby redistributing pressure across the body. This rhythmic change in pressure helps in preventing bedsores and promoting better circulation.
  • Ideal Use: They are especially beneficial for patients with limited mobility or those at high risk for pressure ulcers.
  • Adaptability: These mattresses can be adjusted for pressure levels and cycle times, allowing for personalized comfort and therapeutic benefits.

Comparative Analysis

  • Pressure Ulcer Prevention: Both types of mattresses are effective in preventing pressure ulcers, but alternating pressure mattresses are more proactive in redistributing pressure.
  • Skin and Tissue Health: Low air loss mattresses excel in maintaining skin integrity, particularly in moist environments, whereas alternating pressure mattresses focus on enhancing circulation and reducing prolonged pressure in one area.
  • Patient Mobility: Consider the patient’s ability to move independently. Alternating pressure mattresses might offer better support for repositioning compared to low air loss mattresses.

By comparing these key aspects of low air loss and alternating pressure mattresses, you can make a more informed decision about which mattress type is best suited for your specific medical needs or those of your loved one. Each has its unique features and advantages, and the choice should be tailored to the individual’s comfort and health requirements.

Check out Puffy mattress reviews from real customers and see how we compare with other brands.

Benefits of Using an Alternating Pressure Mattress

  • Pressure Ulcer Prevention: Effective in preventing the development of pressure ulcers, a common concern for immobile patients.
  • Improved Circulation: The alternating pressure helps in stimulating blood flow, essential for healing and preventing complications.
  • Enhanced Comfort for Long-Term Bed Rest: Provides a dynamic surface that adjusts to body movements, offering better comfort over extended periods.

Choosing the Right Alternating Pressure Mattress

  • Patient’s Condition: Consider the specific needs based on the patient’s health condition and the level of immobility.
  • Size and Weight Capacity: Ensure the mattress dimensions and weight capacity fit the patient and the bed frame.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Look for a mattress that is easy to clean and maintain, considering the healthcare environment.

In cases where an alternating pressure mattress is not required, a Puffy Lux Mattress can serve as an excellent alternative, providing comfort and support for everyday use.

Use our store locator to find the closest furniture or mattress store near you and feel the cloudlike comfort of our Puffy Mattress in person.


Alternating pressure mattresses represent a significant advancement in medical sleep technology, offering crucial benefits for individuals at risk of pressure injuries. Understanding their features, benefits, and how to choose the right one can greatly enhance the care and comfort of patients in need.

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