The Old-School Mattress Mistake You Might Be Making

updated Mar 10, 2021
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(Image credit: Federico Paul)

Maybe your parents told you. Or perhaps it was your favorite aunt. The point being that somewhere down the line, a very well-meaning loved one likely informed you that you need to flip your mattress on a regular basis to keep it “fresh” and to prolong its life. I distinctly remember my grandma drilling this point into my head when — like the good adult she was grooming me to be — I made my first major mattress purchase. It wasn’t until recently I learned that doing the OG flip isn’t actually the best idea. (Sorry, Grandma!)

If this makes you feel like your whole life is a lie, well, join the club. But also, let’s put this into perspective. It should come as no shock that times change and, with them, technology. Your well-meaning loved ones weren’t wrong about flipping mattresses, per se; they simply weren’t accustomed to the many types of mattresses on the market today.

So, go easy on Dad or Grandma — they knew not the error of their ways.

Should you flip your mattress?

Today, there exist too many types of mattresses to give the old “should I flip my mattress?” question a one-size-fits-all answer. A safe rule of thumb, though, is that you shouldn’t flip your mattress unless you know for sure it is an old-school innerspring mattress designed to be used on both sides. Otherwise, you probably have a more modern mattress that is one-side-up and should not be flipped. Examples include pillow-top mattresses as well as layered memory foam or latex mattresses (like Casper, Leesa, Tuft & Needle and other bed-in-a-box brands). Flipping this type of mattress does nothing for its longevity… not to mention it could lead to undue damage as you wrestle that sucker into place like a Ghostbuster trying to bring down the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

The layered foam of a Leesa mattress. (Image credit: Leesa)

Skip the flip and rotate instead

Just because you don’t have to flip your mattress doesn’t mean you’re off the hook entirely, though. Instead of doing a flip-over, you should be rotating. “If you have a single-sided mattress (you sleep on only one side), rotate the mattress from end to end — that is, move the mattress 180 degrees,” explains Consumer Reports. “The foot of the mattress is now at the head, and vice versa.”

The site recommends doing so every two weeks for the first three months you own a mattress, and then once every two months after. Other experts recommend rotating every six months, so pick your pace and stick to it. The idea is the same on either schedule: Rotating will help prevent your bed from getting the kind of divots sleeping in the same spot all the time can create.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to remember to rotate your mattress

We’re all busy and time slips by in the blink of an eye, so it’s probably been a hot minute since you remembered you were supposed to rotate, right? Household Management 101 offers a helpful hack for staying on track in the future: Take index cards, and write the months you plan to rotate on them. So, for example, you might have four cards reading “January,” “March,” “May,” and “July.” Or just two: “Spring/Summer” and “Fall/Winter.” You then pin the index cards to your mattress. If you’re rotating on time, the card at the foot of your bed will match the most recent month.

So, you still have to put in a little sweat equity, but not nearly as much as you did when you were flipping your mattress. And as a bonus, your mattress may last longer and your back won’t become a casualty of uncomfortable sleep. Mattress rotating FTW!