While sleeping on an air mattress yesterday a thought occurred to me. I had to re-inflate the air mattress since it was getting rather low and after it had a good stiffness to it, I went to sleep. The next morning I noticed that a lot of the pressure that I put into the air mattress had left and I remembered Le Chatelier's principle which says that gases in a closed system will convert to the least number of molecules possible if the pressure is increased.

So this is my thought:

  1. Breathing into the air mattress had added moles of gas to a closed system (the air mattress).

  2. Lying on the air mattress increased the pressure of the system.

  3. Given Le Chatelier's Principle, the gases should have transitioned to the lowest number of moles to relieve the pressure introduced on the system.

The thing I'm not sure about is if there are any equilibrium reactions for the gases in our atmosphere that will actually do this. Considering the makeup of our atmosphere, does Le Chatelier's Principle apply to the air inside an air mattress?


1 Answer 1


No, the air we breathe is about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.5% carbon dioxide and other gases. Nitrogen doesn't react with anything at room temperature and there is nothing to burn inside the air mattress.

What probably happened was that there is a very small hole that the air leaked out. About the only way to find the hole would be to submerge the air mattress in a pool.

  • $\begingroup$ I would also add, that even if there were a reaction between 3 gasses (a to b +c for instance) you'd have to really increase the pressure quite a bit to drive the reaction forward. It is unlikely that your additional body weight increased the pressure significantly. $\endgroup$
    – user11585
    Oct 27, 2017 at 3:48

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