Are Regular Mattresses Suited To Hospital Beds? Healthcare Guidelines

26 Oct.,2022


Wooden hospital beds

Medical issues require unique treatments: from the right medication to the proper environment to get well sooner. So let me start by giving you a quick answer to a question many ask – can you use regular mattresses for hospital beds? Well, yes, you can, but most of the time, doctors won’t approve of this practice. Why? Because it is wiser to look for a more specific bed mattress with therapeutic or medical features for the best comfort and safety.

Depending on the patient’s medical condition, a regular mattress might be ok, yet, not enough.

This article will expose the multiple reasons why patients might need a medical mattress instead of the regular one and the benefits, risks, and features of hospital bed equipment. So let me explain everything.

Who Needs A Particular Hospital Bed Mattress?

A hospital bed mattress is an essential healthcare part for both home recovery and in hospitals. Truth be told, people usually look for a particular medical mattress for different reasons. Whether we are referring to someone who is aging and needs hospital care or people who were subjects of surgery, the situation is more or less the same. Their bed needs to be comfortable enough to ease their condition. Furthermore, hospital beds may also serve people in chronic pain, recovering from a long-term trauma, or bed-ridden because of a long-term illness.

A dedicated mattress is an inspiring idea for anyone who needs to spend long periods in bed. These mattresses are designed to improve blood circulation, prevent wounds, regulate body temperature, and block lesions linked to extended immobility.

The Risks Of Choosing An Inappropriate Mattress

Although it might seem that a foam mattress or regular box springs would be comfortable enough for everyone, they might do worse when it comes to some patients. The first and major concern is the development of pressure ulcers.

Pressure ulcers are those lesions that appear on the skin and develop due to pressure and abrasion against the body. This condition develops most often on those body areas with less padding – knees, heels, elbows, tailbone, or hips. No matter the age, anyone can develop pressure sores, but those bed-ridden or in a wheelchair are most likely to suffer from this condition.

Without specific treatment, pressure ulcers can cause even death. Therapy and proper medication are a must. Even so, in some cases, sores may never fully heal. The good news?

Note: Studies (1) revealed that using a suitable mattress, or at least changing the regular one with a hospital mattress, can reduce the sores from stage 3 to 4 and diminish ulcers by 66%. Good beds will help relieve pressure points and distribute weight evenly.

The Particularities Of Hospital Mattresses

This is what makes hospital mattresses unique and beneficial for those suffering:

Size Problem: Hospital Mattresses Are Not Conventional

When choosing a mattress for a hospital bed, the regular ones won’t work due to their sizes. A non-hospital mattress does not suit the frame, normally 39-inch by 80-inch, also known as Twin XL (The standard size of a hospital bed mattress is 36 inches wide by 80 inches long).

If the regular mattress is a little bit wider, those extra inches will be a real problem in the bed’s operation and damage some parts of the bed. Furthermore, an improper mattress might be dangerous for the patients, considering the wrong length and width could cancel other beds’ functioning systems.

More than everything else, ordinary mattresses have thick foams or solid springs that may not be suited for the electric adjustments for the shoulders and knees. A particular hospital bed mattress folds with all the adjustments, so the patients can adjust the optimal body position they wish.

Hospital Bed Mattresses Meet Patient’s Needs

A patient who has been lying down in the bed for too long in a specific position may start dealing with painful pressure in some body areas. Once the sores emerge, any healing treatment will become time-consuming and challenging. In other words, recovering slows down, and the patient suffers even more.

In time, these issues will cause even more discomfort and pain, and if infections appear, they can even become life-threatening. Therefore, hospital bed mattresses offer the ideal support for patients. The materials are made for distributing pressure evenly so that no point of contact will bear too much force.

This is a mandatory feature for those bed-ridden patients at higher risk for dealing with bedsores, including those issues associated with being underweight and overweight. Solid and pressure-soothing memory foam mattresses become crucial for those in need.

The particular hospital mattresses encourage airflow all around the body, so the skin is not liable to bedsores. A mattress designed for airflow is healthier and more suited to support an ill body.

Hospital Mattresses Increase Mobility

Hospital mattresses allow patients to get in and out of bed easier. Rising in the morning and going to sleep at night with an ordinary mattress might be truly difficult, especially for those dealing with mobility issues.

Sometimes, people struggling with neurological diseases would even prefer to add hospital beds to their bedrooms so the sleeping aspect of their lives will become a lot easier. If the mattress does not provide enough comfort, sitting up and pulling themselves off the bed will be hardly bearable.

Most hospital mattresses use high-density foam materials that are more flexible and effortlessly follow the body’s shape. Moreover, these medical products are durable and a lot more relaxed, allowing you to have the optimal level of support.

Types Of Hospital Bed Mattresses

Mattresses can be made of various materials to offer a specific type of support. Hospital bed mattresses take comfort to a whole new level and can be specialized to provide comfort for those with long-term inactivity. But let’s learn more about the mattresses used for hospital patients and their specific features.

Innerspring Mattresses

These are the most inexpensive ones, with an interior made of metal spring coils. These elements are meant to support the weight of any occupant. Manufacturers add high-quality foam or other cushioning materials that can serve all body shapes and pressure along the springs.

Innerspring mattresses are perfect for those who have a “hot sleep,” as they allow a better airflow than any other solid mattress. They may also be more comfortable for people who prefer sleeping on their stomachs, as they come with minor give and can keep a flatter surface.

Memory Foam Mattress

This bed equipment is a big deal nowadays. Although not an innovation, people have underestimated their comfort. Whether a mattress or a topper, these products are high-quality layers of foam with different densities.

Due to their particular thickness, these layers will form body-hugging support and distribute weight more evenly. Another great advantage of foam mattresses is that they do not need to flip regularly to share wear. However, there is also a big disadvantage to consider. And that is their high prices. So if you have a more restrictive budget, you may choose a foam topper instead.

Gel-Infused Mattress

These are famous as third-generation foam mattresses similar to the previous category. There are some of the main differences between gel-infused and memory foam mattresses. So let’s check them out and fully understand them:

  • This model offers a cooler sleep, considering gel always stays pretty cool. This feature helps distribute the heat and keep the body cooler as they rest on it.
  • Springier support translates into reshaping quicker. Maybe you have noticed how memory foam mattresses keep your body’s shape for a few seconds after you get up. Well, the gel-infused ones get back quicker. For those who have a more “active” sleep, memory foam mattresses might make them feel a bit stuck in that position.

The principal drawback of gel memory foam mattresses is that they are costly. Of course, prices might differ based on brand and size.

Medical Air Mattress

Medical air mattresses are specifically designed for people who need adequate support. These mattresses are not some regular ones but products with air cells or cylinders separated throughout the mattress. The core and the air cylinders allow airflow and adjust the body pressure.

Medical air mattresses are designed for those who will spend more than 15 hours in a hospital bed and come with the following designs:

  • Alternating Pressure: a model of medical mattress that contains air cells to fill with air and then deflate at different intervals to soften the pressure all across the body. This fantastic feature stimulates body circulation and prevents sores from appearing.
  • Low Air Loss: this mattress releases the air slowly while pulling a new one to keep a constant and natural airflow.
  • Lateral Rotation Mattress: this mattress promotes sleep and helps the occupant rotate bilaterally at different intervals to make sure they rest on all sides and their back.
  • Bariatric Mattress: These mattresses were developed for obese people. Yet, they can also be used by those looking for extra structure or the best weight spread technology. The key feature of these mattresses is the heavy-duty springs, made of long-lasting materials that maintain their shape even under heavy loads. On top of that come the high-density foam layers that reduce the pressure points. Bariatric mattresses meet the highest quality and durability standards and are long-lasting.

Key Factors In Choosing A Hospital Bed Mattress

Now that we have discussed the main differences between hospital bed mattresses and regular ones, it’s time to discuss the top factors to consider in purchasing the medical one. If you are going for a more therapeutic mattress, check these critical features to make sure your purchase is a smart one:


A waterproof mattress will usually come with a vinyl cover that protects it from humidity, possible spills, sweat, and other accidents. Ultimately, a waterproof medical mattress will last longer and keep its quality for a long year.


If you want to buy this mattress for homecare a patient, you must ensure it will be easy to clean. Patient care is not an easy job, and it requires a lot of work, so the last thing you want is to spend an entire day rubbing a mattress. You can also look for some removable covers and change them when needed.


No matter the type of mattress, antimicrobial features are always a wise idea but essential for those who are spending most of their time in bed. These mattresses will keep away microbes and protect the patients from fungal infections.


Most hospital beds are adjustable, which means you can raise the legs or head for maximum comfort and weight distribution. Search for quality mattresses that are pliable and can easily accommodate the bed’s changing configuration.


The classic hospital bed is approximately 80″ x 36″. Before purchasing the mattress, make sure you know how big is the bed first.


Knowing your budget is critical information to keep in mind when going shopping. This way, you know if you need to buy a cheaper mattress or a therapeutic mattress topper instead. There are always some solutions; you just need to be creative.

The patient’s health

The patient’s condition is critical in choosing a particular mattress type. For those who are highly motionless and have a high risk of developing bedsores, selecting the best-quality therapeutic mattress is essential. For those who are overweight, a bariatric mattress will be more suitable.


Now that it’s all clear why you cannot use a regular mattress on a hospital bed, the final factor to discuss is the brand. Considering the medical nature of your purchase, it is recommended to buy from trusted brands only, ones that have excellent reviews. Look for those names built for a long lifespan and which can offer the particular features for this type of medical equipment.

Are Regular Mattresses Ok For Hospital Beds?

So, before wrapping things up, let’s give one last answer to the question of the day. Based on the information above, it’s clear that regular mattresses are not suitable for hospital beds, as they cannot provide the same comfort and support to patients with exceptional care needs.

While standard mattresses are helpful for those recovering from a particular illness, medical ones are designed for long-term care settings. Whether it’s a memory foam mattress, a bariatric, gel-infused, box spring, or medical air mattress, the options are numerous and can meet all needs and budgets.