Buyer's Guide to Flippable Mattresses
Most mattresses sold today are one-sided and should never be flipped over. This is because they are usually feature base layers made of dense foam and, in some cases, steel springs; using these surfaces for sleep can lead to aches, pains, and pressure points. However, some mattress brands offer flippable mattresses with suitable sleep surfaces on each side. Some offer the same firmness on both sides, which can extend the lifespan of the mattress, while other models have different firmnesses on each side to accommodate sleepers with preferences that vary from night to night.
This guide will look at common designs of flippable mattresses and benefits of using them, as well as tips for first-time buyers and our picks for the best flippable mattresses that are currently available for sale.
Flippable Mattress Designs and Functions
First, let’s clarify the difference between flipping and rotating. Rotating refers to the process of shifting the mattress 180 degrees while using the same sleep surface; when properly rotated, the areas that were the head and foot of the bed will be reversed. Most mattresses should be rotated in order to preserve the sleep surface. Innersprings and hybrids should be rotated twice per year, while foam and latex models usually need to be rotated once per year. Airbeds are an exception; they never need to be rotated. Flipping, on the other hand, refers to the process of turning a mattress upside down and sleeping on the inverse surface.
Another important clarification is the difference between ‘flippable’ and ‘dual-sided’ mattresses. ‘Dual-sided’ mattresses have one sleep surface with a different firmness on each side; they are a good option for couples with different firmness preferences. However, ‘dual-sided’ mattresses should never be flipped.
Historically, flippable mattresses were somewhat common — and even considered an industry standard at one point. However, as construction technology has evolved, most manufacturers have transitioned to one-sided models with stronger, more durable support cores. This measure has also been somewhat cost-effective for manufacturers, as one-sided mattresses will wear out and require replacements much sooner than two-sided models. Flippable mattresses are fairly rare today, but the available selection includes foam, latex, and hybrid models.
Common features and characteristics of flippable mattresses include:
One-sided mattresses have two main components: the comfort layer/cover on top, and the support core on the bottom. The comfort layer cushions the body, while the support core is made of sturdier materials that help reinforce the sleeper’s weight. In order to provide a design that is both comfortable and supportive, flippable mattresses usually feature two comfort layers — one on each side — and a shared support core that provides optimal support from both ends.
However, flippable mattresses with two firmness options are never completely symmetrical. The foam/latex components in the comfort layers have different densities and/or indentation load deflections (ILDs) to ensure unique firmness on each side. Additionally, one of the sides may feature components like microcoils or extra foam layers.
Thicker and Heavier Than Average
Due to their dual comfort layer construction, flippable mattresses tend to be thicker than one-sided models. The baseline for most is 10 to 11 inches, and some are much thicker. This may make them less suitable for certain sleepers, such as shorter people or people who weigh less than 130 pounds, as higher-profile beds can be more difficult for getting on and off. However, thicker mattresses are also more suitable for couples and heavier individuals.
For the same reason, flippable mattresses tend to be on the heavier side. Most weigh at least 100 pounds, and some weigh 120 pounds or more. This is important to note because, for many, flipping the mattress will require assistance; lifting a heavy mattress alone can cause serious back injuries, as well as lingering aches and pains.
Flippable mattresses with two different firmness options may be flipped whenever the owner wants to adjust the feel of the mattress. For flippable mattresses with the same firmness on each side, experts recommend flipping the mattress once or twice per year. This will help preserve both sleep surfaces and may extend the overall lifespan of the mattress.
Pros and Cons of Flippable Mattresses