The struggle to blow up an air mattress is universal in some way. You’re left struggling to fill the mattress by mouth or by a hand pump without an automatic air pump. None of these solutions are ideal in particular.

Thankfully, technology has come around to give us the air mattress that is self-inflating. A self-inflated air mattress is a type of mattress that works without a motor or a hand pump. It may sound a bit odd, but this is how it works.

How does a self-inflating air mattress work?

The science behind the self-inflated air mattress is not as complex as it may seem at first. No mechanical elements are available to fill the mattress with air, no cords to worry about, and no air pump to plug in.

When it comes to this particular mattress, an ‘air mattress’ may even be a bit of a misnomer.

The outside of the self-inflating air mattress is an airtight vinyl material that does not provide any leakage, enabling the material to function within the mattress. The substance involved is a foam made of polyurethane.

The foam inside the mattress is filled with lots of open pockets and cells, allowing the air to fill the foam, which in turn fills the mattress and makes sleeping easy.

The foam inside the mattress will be compressed when rolled up and stored. The foam material, however, makes it so that the cells want to grow naturally.

The cells fill with air and return to their open state when the mattress is unrolled, and the valve is opened. Thanks to the densely packed pockets in the foam, this helps the foam to stretch and support somebody’s weight while lying down as well.

The valve closure guarantees that the air stays trapped in the foam pockets instead of being pushed out once you lay down.

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Adjust the mattress to your liking

In contrast to regular air mattresses filled with the help of an air pump, it is easier to adjust the amount of air that goes in with the self-inflating air mattress. Underfilling can cause the center of the mattress to sink and become uncomfortable with an air-filled mattress.

The self-inflated air mattress is filled with both air and foam, making it easier to adjust how firm or soft the mattress is. To adjust how firm or soft the air mattress is, simply allow the mattress to be filled with the valve.

Then, in small bursts, release the air until the mattress is more comfortable. The preferences of everyone are different, which makes the air mattress that is self-inflating much more versatile.

How to regulate the amount of air for your mattress

Because some people prefer their firm mattresses and others softer, you can control a self-inflating sleeping mat’s firmness and thickness. This is a very useful one to have, as ground conditions can also differ.

All you have to do is blow air through the valve or through a mouthpiece to get more air into the sleeping mat.

When inflating a mat with your mouth, however, bear in mind that the air you breathe into the mat can cause moisture and bacteria to build up, which can eventually ruin the mat.

This is because mildew can form on the inside, which can have a negative impact on the properties of the foam and the insulation. Mildew, though, is not the only downside. The moisture will freeze at low temperatures, thus reducing the mat’s insulation ability. And, trust me, this is not a good thing.

If you have a mat with foam and down insulation, like those from Exped, you should make sure that there is no moisture in the mat as it would cause the down to bind together and lose its insulating properties.

If all that sounds scary and you want to keep moisture out of your mat, there are different ways to inflate it without using your hands.

There are integrated pump systems, for example, or those that involve using the stuff sack of the mat as bellows. The systems differ between manufacturer and model.

If you like your mat softer, all you need to do is let out as much air as you want through the valve.

Caring for Your Self-Inflating Mattress

Many people are used to deflating, rolling, and tossing an air mattress in the closet until they need it the next time. Thanks to the nature of a self-inflated mattress, when it is in storage, a little more care must be taken.

You should be careful to store it in a cool, dry place after removing the valve and rolling up the mattress.

The design of the pockets in the foam means that any moisture inside the mattress will begin to grow mold. It is detrimental to both the mattress and the health of those who use it, of course.

It is best to use a water-resistant bag during travel or when it is not in use to store the rolled-up mattress.

Although putting your mouth in the valve and trying to blow a little more air in the mattress may be tempting, this should be avoided strictly.

Manufacturers of self-inflated air mattresses are careful to ensure that the valve design allows air to fill any pocket inside the foam and that the mattress can fill up completely when left to inflate on its own.

Mold issues can also be triggered by blowing air into the mattress tube, as the humidity in the air you exhale can be trapped in the pores.


Typically you want to get things going as quickly as possible when you wake up, preferably after a good night’s sleep.

You’ll have to let all the air out to pack your sleeping mat as light as you can. Just like you would with an air mattress, you can do this.

Only fold two to three times the sleeping mat and then open the valve.

Through folding it, air will be released through the valve as a result of the pressure applied to the pad.

Open the valve after doing this and roll up the sleeping mat, starting at the base of the mat. This will collect at the top the majority of the air left on the mat. The air will also be able to escape when you open the valve again.

You can store the mat for transportation when all the air is out, and the valve is closed. Oh, and having the mat rolled up during transportation is great. You should use a stuff sack to provide it with sufficient protection when loading or transporting the item.


Self-inflating air mattresses are an innovation that the world has long been waiting for, although not filled with air. The foam inside makes it possible to sleep more comfortably and protect, and the design makes it easy to transport and set up.

These mattresses are flexible and can meet many needs, from needing to have an extra place to sleep for a birthday party for a child to camping in the woods for a few days.