5 Reasons Why Your Air Mattress Deflates and 10 Proven Ways to Prevent It

5 Reasons Why Your Air Mattress Deflates And 10 Ways To Prevent It

We all know the dreaded feeling: you’ve sunk into your air mattress!

It can be incredibly annoying going to sleep on a perfectly inflated bed, only to wake up in a deflated puddle.

This situation is made even worse when you’re camping and a good night’s sleep is crucial.

So we wrote this article to address some possible causes to your mysteriously deflating air mattress. 

Overall, if you have ruled out a hole or leak, an air mattress may deflate because you are camping in colder temperatures. If the mattress is brand new, it may just need time to stretch out fully. Finally, there could be simple user errors causing the sag, such as rough handling, improper storage, or overloading the air mattress.

5 Reasons Why Your Air Mattress Deflates Overnight

1. You’ve Got a Leak… Duh! – Why Your Air Mattress Deflates

A leak is of course the most obvious cause of a deflating air mattress. But while it sounds obvious, the leak itself may not be so apparent.

In other words, locating the leak can be really challenging.

First, do a thorough visual inspection of the entire air mattress. Examine the whole thing: front, back, and sides.

Next, feel the seams for any damage. Then check the area around the pump, or where the pump connects to the bed.

If you still can’t find the source of the leak, wash the mattress with soapy water. If you see bubbles foaming or frothing up in a particular spot, then bingo! You’ve found your leak.

2. You’re Camping in the Cold – Why Your Air Mattress Deflates

Believe it or not, temperature changes are a major culprit to deflating air mattresses.

This is no fault of your own – it’s just the nature of air. It compresses when the ambient temperature is cold, and expands when it’s hot.

Consider your car tires, for instance. Do you notice how the “inflate your tires now!” light comes on during the colder months of autumn? 

Air mattresses are subject to the same problem. So if you’re camping in colder temperatures, you may notice your air mattress losing its comfy volume as the air inside it literally shrinks.

Does this sound like too much hassle? Want to consider other possibilities? We’ve got you covered with our 11 air mattress alternatives

Oh, and while you’re at it, we broke down some of these alternatives in our detailed comparison between cots vs. air mattress vs. sleeping pads.

3. The Mattress is New – Why Your Air Mattress Deflates

You’ve inflated your brand new air mattress and you’re super excited to jump into a plush night’s sleep. Imagine your disappointment when it deflates!

This is surprisingly common behavior for a new air mattress. The material in the mattress needs time to stretch out.

Otherwise, it will continue stretching while you’re sleeping on it. And of course, this results in sag, and feeling like the mattress is deflating beneath you.

4. You’ve Overloaded the Air Mattress – Why Your Air Mattress Deflates

Air mattresses have weight limits for a reason. If you don’t adhere to them, you really can’t be surprised if this results in a deflated, overstressed mattress.

It doesn’t matter if you piled too much weight on it last night or three months ago. The damage will still have been done.

Avoiding this is simple: just check your user manual for the weight limit and stay well under it!

By the way, if you’re concerned about this one because you need to fit a lot of people on your bed, check out our list of the 10 best heavy duty air mattresses.

5. Air Naturally Seeps Out, Even Without Leaks – Why Your Air Mattress Deflates

Unfortunately, if you’ve ruled everything else out but you’re still noticing a slightly less inflated air mattress, the culprit could be simple physics.

Think of a helium balloon. They don’t have any leaks, right? But even so, a balloon will eventually deflate on its own.

This is because air will naturally seep out of any material, regardless of leaks. 

How to Avoid Leaks in Your Air Mattress

1. No Sharp Objects… Clearly. – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

Sure, this one’s a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many leaks result from user error. A lot of those errors are related to wielding sharp objects near the air mattress.

So, just don’t bring anything sharp near the bed. 

That includes the super obvious things like scissors and knives, to the maybe not-so-obvious items, like forks, nail clippers, pens/pencils, or really anything with a harsh edge.

2. No Excess Tumbling or Play Fighting on the Air Mattress… Kids and Grownups! – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

Tumbling around, play wrestling, and general roughhousing is a lot of fun, but the resulting strain on the air mattress might not be as enjoyable.

It can exert force on the more sensitive mattress seams. Rough play additionally strains the fabric of the bed. All of this can increase the chance for failure and air leaks.

3. Invest in a Quality Air Mattress – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

I know, I can hear your wallet screaming at me from a mile away. 

But it’s a reality of life: if you want a quality product, you most likely will have to invest a little more cash. This is especially true for air mattresses.

(Hey, we know camping is expensive, so to help you out, we broke down the total cost of camping with a done-for-you budget.)

More expensive models of air mattresses designed specifically for camping will be more rugged than a cheap living-room-use model you grab at Walmart.

This means they can handle sitting on gravel, for example, thanks to their much tougher skin.

4. Don’t Over Inflate the Air Mattress – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

Although you might think it’s clever to overinflate the air mattress in case it does deflate, this is actually a bad idea. 

An excess of air stretches the material, and again, places unneeded stress on the seams. Or, in the worst case worst, the seams could pop open if you overinflate it enough. 

In fact, it’s wise to only inflate the air mattress to 90 percent of the full capacity.

Are you getting the idea yet that placing stress on the mattress is likely the cause of much of your deflating woes?

5. Store the Air Mattress Deflated – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

This sounds like such a small action, but like many things, small actions can have a great impact.

So next time you put away your air mattress, don’t just leave it inflated and shoved in a corner of the garage.

Instead, deflate and carefully fold it. Then be sure to store in a clean, dry area to reduce any risk of damage from excessive moisture.

6. Try to Avoid Sitting on the Air Mattress – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

Yeah, air mattresses are so, so comfy! But sadly, sitting places a high amount of stress on the mattress in a concentrated area: your behind!

This differs from laying on the mattress because your weight is dispersed over a much larger area. 

Thus, try to resist the urge to use the air mattress as a couch. Rather, let it be reserved for catching your Zzz’s only.

7. Place the Air Mattress in a Flat Area Free of Obstacles – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

Before you even inflate the mattress, consider the spot in your tent where you’re going to plop down.

You’ll want to choose a flat area, ideally one that’s smooth. In other words, there aren’t any rocks or other lumpy areas on the ground that would exert pressure on the bottom of the mattress.

In addition, keep a vigilant lookout for any sharp objects that your air mattress could potentially come into contact with. They don’t have to be as obvious as a knife either.

A sharp object could be the corner of your camping table, the feet of your chairs, or any other protrusions.

8. Try to Camp in the Summer Months – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

Remember what we said about air mattresses being subjected to the laws of physics as the temperature changes?

Well, camping in warmer temperatures can help minimize the deflating that naturally happens when the temperatures drop.

So consider bringing your air mattress on trips to the South, or during the dog days of summer.

9. Place a Heater Nearby… But Not Too Close – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

Although we do suggest camping with an air mattress in the summer, the temperatures will still drop significantly around 3am.

To combat this, place a small, portable camping heater near the air mattress. This will help maintain the temperature around the bed, reducing the risk that the air inside will compress.

And lastly, this should go without saying, but we’ll restate it anyway: don’t place the heater too close! Remember your fire safety basics, guys!

Oh, and if you’re in the market for such a heater, we curated a list of the 10 best tent heaters just for you!

10. Consider an Air Mattress with a Dual Pump – Avoiding Air Mattress Leaks

If nothing has worked and you’re absolutely fed up with a saggy bed, then check out dual pump air mattresses.

These new darlings of the industry are equipped with a second air pump built into the mattress. Furthermore, it’s completely silent. 

And things get even better! If you leave your bed plugged in, the second pump automatically senses and inflates the mattress as needed.

This virtually eliminates deflating mattresses for good! So don’t be afraid to make the investment if nothing else has helped.

Reasons Why Your Air Mattress Deflates & How to Prevent It When Tent Camping

Conclusion – Why Your Air Mattress Deflates

As you can see, there’s definitely a few culprits when it comes to a deflating air mattress. 

Although most of them are caused by user error, now that you know about them, you won’t be repeating the same mistakes! …Right?

Joking aside, we hope this has eliminated a bit of your frustration regarding your mystery air mattress sag!

Frequently Asked Questions – Why Your Air Mattress Deflates

Air mattresses are a great solution for temporary or portable sleeping arrangements, but sometimes they can deflate unexpectedly, causing discomfort and inconvenience. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about why air mattresses deflate and how to prevent it:

  1. Why does my air mattress deflate? There are several reasons why an air mattress may deflate. The most common reasons include:
  • Leaks or punctures in the mattress material or valve
  • Overinflation or underinflation of the mattress
  • Changes in temperature or air pressure
  • Structural damage or wear and tear from frequent use
  1. How can I find a leak in my air mattress? One way to locate a leak is to inflate the mattress and spray it with a solution of water and soap. If there is a leak, bubbles will appear where the air is escaping. You can also listen for the sound of air escaping or visually inspect the mattress for tears or punctures.
  2. How can I prevent my air mattress from deflating? To prevent your air mattress from deflating, you should:
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for inflation and deflation
  • Check the mattress regularly for leaks or damage
  • Avoid overinflating or underinflating the mattress
  • Keep the mattress away from sharp objects or rough surfaces
  • Avoid exposing the mattress to extreme temperatures or sunlight
  • Store the mattress properly when not in use
  1. How can I repair a leak in my air mattress? If you locate a leak in your air mattress, you can repair it with a patch or sealant designed specifically for air mattresses. Follow the instructions carefully and allow the patch or sealant to dry completely before using the mattress again.
  2. Should I use an air mattress for long-term sleeping arrangements? While air mattresses are a great solution for temporary or portable sleeping arrangements, they are not recommended for long-term use. Over time, the mattress may lose air or become damaged, leading to discomfort or injury. If you need a long-term sleeping solution, consider investing in a high-quality mattress or bed.
Ben Wann- Tent Camping Expert

My name is Ben Wann, and I’m a lifelong tent camper and backpacker who jumps on every opportunity to get out and enjoy nature! I created this site to inspire others to get outside and to make the process easier for you.