As you and your mattress age, you might start to realize you’re not waking up feeling as refreshed as you used to. Often, that morning grogginess will be accompanied by some soreness and pain. And if your medical needs have landed you in a hospital bed for the short or long term, you need a mattress that will help you, not hurt!
Alternating pressure and pressure-relief mattresses are the way to go for seniors who need a mattress that soothes aches and pains as well as reduced pressure sores. Check out our list of the best pressure relief mattresses to find the one that’s right for you!
What is a Pressure Relief Mattress (And How Do They Work)?
Pressure-relief mattresses look and feel a lot like the mattresses you’re used to, but they are built with a more specific purpose in mind. Rather than simply keep you comfortable as you sleep, these mattresses work to align your body (necessary for good sleep) and provide even support everywhere.
When a mattress succeeds in doing this, you won’t have any painful pressure points develop. Your body weight will be evenly distributed and cushioned, while still getting enough support to avoid sinking to the bottom.
This is a tricky balance to achieve, and not every mattress is a “one size fits all” solution. That’s why it’s important to do your research and learn about your preferences/needs so that you can find the right mattress for you- not the right mattress for someone else!
9 Best Alternating Pressure and Pressure Relief Mattresses
1. Best Pressure Relief Mattress (Overall): Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Adapt Pressure-Relieving Swedish Mattress
If you’re looking for the world’s best pressure-relieving products, look no further than Tempur-Pedic. This brand was the first to release a memory foam mattress back in the 90s and has been at the forefront of mattress technology ever since.
Tempur-Pedic mattresses use high-quality foam that has the perfect density for most people’s body types. The TEMPUR-Adapt line is specially designed to, well, adapt to your body as you sleep/move on the mattress. Each part of your body gets the right amount of support and gentleness, reducing pressure points and letting you sleep easily.
2. Best Mattress for Pressure Ulcers: Drive Med Aire Alternating Pressure Mattress
This mattress is designed to be used with hospital beds, and is made up of several air chambers that inflate/deflate at the touch of a button. The controls and pump will also automatically reinflate the mattress to keep it at your desired pressure level while you sleep.
It also has an alternating pressure mode that will slowly inflate and deflate the air chambers to stimulate tissue and prevent pressure sores from forming. Pressure ulcers affect millions of seniors each year, many of them severe enough to require treatment from a doctor. If you are starting to spend more time in a bed than outside of it due to medical concerns or injuries, pressure sores are a serious risk.
Mattresses of this type are key in preventing pressure sores, according to medical research. If you are at risk for pressure ulcers and are using a hospital bed, this is one of the best mattress choices for you!
3. Best Pressure Relief Mattress for Hospital Bed: Apex Medical Domus 5 Inch Hospital Bed Mattress
Hospital beds are very beneficial to the seniors who need them, even though many seniors are reluctant to get one. They are better for preventing falls and joint pain while getting in and out of the bed, and you can use specialized mattresses like the Apex Medical Domus. This mattress is a bit more affordable (and more comfortable) than the Drive Medical model that we looked at above.
This mattress has a great alternating pressure mode, one that will stimulate your muscles and skin, preventing pressure ulcers and atrophy as much as possible. It’s also very easy to use because the control box is simple, easy to understand, and can be placed right next to you.
Finally, the pump on the Apex Domus is extremely quiet, so it won’t wake you up in the middle of the night when refilling while you are trying to sleep! If you’re going to be in a hospital bed for an indefinite amount of time, this mattress will be of great benefit to you.
4. Best Bariatric Alternating Pressure Mattress: MedaCure Bariatric Pressure Redistribution Mattress
This mattress makes use of more technology than most foam hospital bed mattresses, and it’s 48 inches wide- perfect for a bariatric hospital bed. It uses three different layers of support, with the most supportive on the bottom, to create a sleeping surface that supports just as much as it comforts. The top layer has a small “grid” pattern cut into it that allows it to gently cradle your body and take pressure away from your pressure points.
It also has a weight capacity of 550 pounds, one of the highest weight limits on the market. If you’ve been let down by bariatric mattresses that do little by way of comfort, this is the best mattress for you. It’s simple, comfortable, and does its job of redistributing your bodyweight very effectively.
5. Best Gel Pressure Mattress: Zinus Pressure Relief Cooling Gel Mattress
Zinus is a wildly popular maker of mattresses that people value for their affordability and effectiveness. This mattress is exactly that: a model that performs just as well as $1,400 mattresses that costs less than $400. It uses three different layers of dense, soft foam to evenly distribute your body weight and keep you gently floating atop the mattress all night long.
The top layer is infused with cooling gel; this gel creates tiny air pockets and channels that allow body heat to flow away from the surface and keep you from waking up and feeling like a sweaty mess. Finally, the surface of the mattress is infused with green tea extract which keeps it feeling fresh and blocks odors and allergens.
If you’re looking for an affordable mattress that relieves aches and pains as you sleep, this is the one for you!
6. Best Low Air-Loss Pressure Mattress: MedAir Low Air-Loss 8-Inch Alternating Pressure Mattress
Alternating pressure cycles in air mattresses are a great way to treat and prevent pressure ulcers and other aches and pains that plague people who are confined to a bed. On top of that, they provide much needed temperature regulation that helps seniors get better sleep. Low air-loss mattresses have pumps that automatically reinflate the mattress to your desired firmness.
This model has a couple of features that make it just a bit better than the others we’ve seen so far. First, each of the air chambers in the mattress is ventilated which keeps you from feeling stuffy and sweaty. Second, the “cycle” mode does not change the way the air chambers under your head and neck behave. This allows you to keep your head stabilized while using the cycle mode. Finally, it has a “seated” mode that puts extra firmness under you when you have the bed upright!
This mattress also has 8-inch thick air chambers, preventing even the heaviest of users from sinking to the bottom. If you are going to be spending a lot of time in a hospital bed, this mattress is a great choice. You’ll have lots of control over your own comfort, and you won’t deal with as many pressure ulcers or aches!
Best Pressure Relief Mattress (Runners-Up)
This mattress is great for people who find most memory foam mattresses to be uncomfortable and hot- it’s the exact opposite. Instead of sinking to the bottom and feeling swallowed by the mattress, you’ll be completely supported and cradled. Rather than feel like you’re getting a hug from a hot cushion, you’ll sleep nice and cool under your blankets.
There isn’t a lot of fancy stuff happening beneath the surface to make this possible, either. It’s a simple, high-quality mattress made from three layers of dense, premium foam. No gimmicks or flashy features- just nice, relaxing sleep. For these reasons, it performs as well for some people as a Tempur-Pedic mattress but costs less than $1,000!
While the simplicity of it means it won’t meet everyone’s needs, this certainly is a mattress worth considering. However, if all you need is quality construction and support, this mattress is exactly what you’re looking for!
When it comes to alternating pressure mattresses, the concept of “brand loyalty” doesn’t really apply. There are plenty of brands to choose from, and many offer the exact same level of quality and benefit. Invacare, though, is a bit different. Their long-standing reputation of making the highest-quality, longest-lasting medical supplies for seniors holds up with their alternating pressure mattress.
It isn’t any fancier than the other low air-loss mattresses on our list; that’s why it’s in the “Runners-Up” category. However, if you’ve tried Invacare products in the past and been satisfied with them, this is the alternating pressure mattress for you. Its simple “cycle” mode does an excellent job of relieving tension and pressure sores; simply press one button and let the mattress do its work. Although it’s quite expensive, you are sure to be happy with the results!
Euro-top mattresses are great for pressure relief because they combine a firm core with a soft top layer. This allows the mattress to fully support the heavier parts of your body without putting too much pressure on it.
The core of the mattress is made with Zinus’ patented iCoils, which are just as strong as innerspring mattress coils but much less invasive. The result is a mattress that adapts to your body, evenly displacing your body weight. Say goodbye to pressure points and hello to deeper, more restful sleep!
In keeping with Zinus’ other products, this mattress is one of the most affordable Euro-tops on the market. If you don’t have the budget for a premium, luxury mattress, getting a Zinus is a great idea!
Best Pressure Relief Mattress Toppers
Best Mattress Topper to Relieve Pressure Points: LUCID 3-Inch 5-Zone Mattress Topper
Three inches of lavender-infused memory foam make up this mattress topper from LUCID, a value-based brand that has a lot in common with Zinus. The best part about this topper, though, isn’t the thickness or the material- it’s the fact that it has five different zones across its surface.
These zones give each part of your body targeted support- there’s extra density where you need it and extra softness where you want it. This mattress topper will perfectly contour to the shape of your body and give you that extra bit of comfort you need to relieve pressure and sleep deeply.
This mattress topper, if it were any thicker, would be a great standalone mattress in and of itself. It’s affordable, comfortable, and provides lots of support that you might not expect from a mattress topper. If your current mattress just isn’t cutting it, this is a great way to upgrade its performance without having to buy a brand new mattress!
If you like the idea of a low air-loss mattress but don’t want to switch up your sleeping apparatus, a mattress overlay like this one is ideal for you. You get all the same benefits of a low air loss mattress in a cheaper, more convenient product.
It only comes in one size (hospital bed size), so you won’t be able to use it to completely cover your Full, Queen, or King mattress, but it is easy to simply take off the bed when you aren’t using it to treat pressure sores. If you need an inexpensive way to treat pressure ulcers, aches, and pains, this mattress topper is a great idea!
Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Pressure Relief Mattress
Best Brands of Pressure Relief Mattresses
While not completely exhaustive, this list should help you narrow down your options to those that come from the best, most trusted brands:
How to Choose the Best Pressure Relief Mattress for Your Needs
Sven & Son manufacture their products primarily in Asia. There is not much data on the exact location of the manufacturing facilities but it seems as though the mattresses themselves are made in China and the bases are manufactured in Thailand. Sven & Son advertises that all of their products were researched and designed in the United States before being outsourced for manufacturing elsewhere.
Set Your Budget Appropriately
One of the most important purchases you’ll make, especially as you age, is your mattress. Finding the right mattress is an instant upgrade to your sleep and therefore your quality of life. The wrong mattress, on the other hand, is a recipe for a foul mood, aches and pains, and even an increased risk of falls.
All of this means that you should set your budget in a way that will afford you the best mattress possible. In other words, set it high! While spending more money does not always guarantee that you’ll get a better mattress, there are many more terrible mattresses in the lower price tier than there are in premium price tiers.
The lowest price tier for a mattress is roughly $200-$500. Between $500 and $1,500, you’ll find mid-tier mattresses that offer a lot of bang for your buck. Anything more expensive than that would be considered a luxury mattress by most people’s standards. No matter what your budget, try to spend as much as you can on a high-quality mattress!
Traditionally, the softer a mattress could be, the more people tended to like it. It’s true that ultra-plush mattresses can be great at first, but they start to cause problems over time. Studies have shown that a medium-firm mattress actually performs much better in terms of pressure and pain relief.
Of course, if you find that your unique preferences do lead you to feel better in a soft mattress, you should stick with what works. Most people, though, will experience the most pressure relief by choosing a medium-firm mattress!
What Does Alternating Pressure Mattress Mean?
“Alternating pressure” refers to the air chambers within specific mattresses that cycle different amounts of pressure through the mattress. This cycling of pressure gently stimulates muscle and skin tissue, reducing the risk of pressure sores.
Almost every mattress that is truly an “alternating pressure” mattress is made to fit a hospital bed, not a regular in-home bed. People who are not using a hospital bed can elect to get an alternating pressure mattress overlay that will be easy to lay on the bed when in use and put away afterward. These overlays are still hospital-bed sized, so it makes more sense to put them on the bed and take them off each use rather than put it under the fitted sheet on your Queen or King bed.
How Does an Alternating Pressure Mattress Work?
The air that slowly moves in and out of each air chamber in the alternating pressure mattress gently pushes up on your body. The result is something akin to a very light massage that lightly stimulates the tissue and muscles that would typically be at risk for pressure ulcers.
These mattresses eliminate the need for a caretaker to give massage or other treatment designed to treat pressure ulcers. This means that seniors may not need as much in-home care, saving money in the long run and giving your caretaker more time to focus on other parts of your treatment.
Types of Pressure Relieving Mattresses
Pressure-relieving mattresses, as opposed to alternating pressure mattresses, don’t have air chambers or a cycle mode. They’re simply regular mattresses that are designed with the intent to relieve pressure across the body that leads to pressure sores, aches, and pains.
Traditional mattresses often lack the combination of support and softness required to lift the heavier parts of your body without putting undue pressure on them. When you use a pressure-relieving mattress, your body weight will be evenly distributed across the entire mattress, reducing the amount of pressure that is placed on your hips, back, shoulders, and neck.
Low Air Loss Mattress vs Alternating Pressure Mattress: What’s the Difference?
Low air-loss mattresses are a subcategory of alternating pressure mattresses. These products slowly ventilate air through the surface of the mattress while the air pump keeps the air chambers from deflating. This helps keep your body cool, dry, and comfortable during the entire time that you use the mattress.
Often, you will see these terms used interchangeably, even though they are different products. So, before you make a purchase, confirm that a product labeled “low air-loss” actually has the ventilation you’re looking for!
Alternating pressure mattresses are the best way for seniors with moderate to serious medical concerns to prevent and treat pressure sores. They’re also helpful for preventing general soreness and stiffness related to spending lots of time in bed.
If you don’t need an alternating pressure mattress, a pressure-relief mattress can help you sleep without aggravating muscle or bone pain. Which mattress or mattress topper from our list intrigues you the most? We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!