Do You Actually Have to Flip Your Mattress?

To avoid injuries, corral someone to help you flip or rotate a mattress.
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Flipping or rotating your mattress usually falls somewhere on the list of Nagging To-Dos That Never Seem To Get Done. So is it actually worth prioritizing, and if so, how often do you really need to do it?

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Turns out there's no one-size-fits-all recommendation. Occasionally flipping or rotating your mattress may help it last longer and allow you to sleep more comfortably, experts say. But not every mattress is designed to be flipped or rotated, and in some cases, doing so could end up causing more harm than good. Here's how to figure out what's right for you.

Flipping vs. Rotating: What's the Difference?

"Flipping" and "rotating" sometimes get used interchangeably when it comes to mattresses. But the two terms are distinct, and it's important to understand the difference.

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  • Flipping​ means turning your mattress over, so the side that was facing the box spring or bed frame now faces upwards towards the ceiling and vice versa.
  • Rotating​ means turning your mattress 180 degrees, so that the part of the mattress that was at the head of the bed is now at the foot of the bed and vice versa.

The Benefits of Flipping or Rotating Your Mattress

In some cases, flipping or rotating your mattress can make it last longer. "It allows the wear on the mattress to be spread more evenly, which extends the life of the mattress," says Arlington, Virginia-based sleep specialist Angela Holliday-Bell, MD.

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Most of us tend to sleep on the same spot in the bed, in the same position, night after night. Over time this can cause certain areas of the mattress to sag or wear down sooner than other parts. "For many of us, most of the weight or wear on the mattress occurs where our shoulders and hips meet the mattress," Dr. Holliday-Bell says.

Flipping or rotating might help you sleep better too. A saggy, worn out mattress won't provide as much support, causing discomfort during the night or when you wake up in the morning. Spreading out the wear means your mattress will offer more support for longer, making you less prone to snooze-disrupting pain or pressure points.

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Are There Any Downsides?

Flipping or rotating your mattress can be a good idea — but only if your mattress was designed for it. "Many mattresses are not uniform across the whole thing, so they may have a defined head and foot. Those should not be rotated," says Michael Grandner, PhD, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona and lead scientific advisor at Sleep Reset.

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Most newer mattresses aren't meant to be flipped either, since many are constructed with different support layers on the top and the bottom. "For instance, the bottom layers are typically more for support while the top tends to contain materials that are more for comfort," Dr. Holliday-Bell says. "They are designed for you to sleep on only one side, so flipping can change the comfort and support of the mattress altogether."

If you're not sure whether your mattress is meant to be flipped or rotated, check the mattress tag or manufacturer instructions to see what is (or isn't) recommended. Or if you aren't able to find the information you need, just give the manufacturer a call.

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Does Mattress Type Matter?

Your mattress type might dictate whether it should be flipped, rotated or simply left alone. But it's a better bet to check the manufacturer instructions for your individual mattress.

For instance, memory foam mattress ​may​ be more likely to be flippable than innerspring mattresses, Grandner says, since many spring mattresses have a pillowtop layer. But if a spring mattress doesn't have a pillowtop layer, it can probably be flipped, Holliday-Bell says. If a mattress is clearly designated as one-sided, flipping isn't a good idea.

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As for rotating? In general any type of mattress — including memory foam, innerspring, pillowtop or one-sided — can be turned 180 degrees. But again, not every individual mattress model is meant to be rotated.

The bottom line: Don't count on mattress type alone to figure out whether you should flip or rotate. Instead, check the manufacturer recommendations regarding your individual mattress model.

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How Often to Flip or Rotate Your Mattress

Most manufacturers that recommend flipping or rotating a mattress say you should do so every 3 to 6 months. But there's no hard evidence to support this, so take it as a suggestion rather than a hard rule. "But if you are noticing dips in the mattress, you may want to rotate to take the load off of those high-pressure areas," Grandner says.

Do You Need to Flip a Baby Mattress?

Good news: Flipping or rotating your baby or toddler's mattress is one task you probably don't need to worry about. "It shouldn't be necessary, since a baby will likely outgrow a mattress before it needs to be flipped," Grandner says.

It's worth checking the manufacturer instructions, though, if you're planning to use the same mattress when your baby transitions to a toddler bed. That's because many crib mattresses are designed with a firmer side for infants and a slightly softer side for toddlers over age 1, Dr. Holliday-Bell says.

How to Flip or Rotate Your Mattress

Whether you're flipping or rotating, rule number-one is always the same: Get someone to help you. Mattresses are heavy and cumbersome, and trying to flip or turn one on your own could easily cause an injury.

Once you've got a partner on board, here's what to do:

To Flip a Mattress

  1. Stand on one side of the bed with your partner standing on the other side. If the mattress has handles, grab onto them.
  2. Working together, turn the mattress 90 degrees. The head and foot of the mattress should now be where the sides of the mattress usually are. (If you have a mattress topper, make sure to remove it now.)
  3. Grab the undersides of the head and foot of the mattress and tip it up towards the headboard, so the top of the mattress is facing the headboard.
  4. Hold the edges of the bottom of the mattress and lay the mattress flat, so the bottom is now on top.
  5. Return the mattress 90 degrees, so the head and foot of the mattress are back in their original position.
  6. Check that the mattress is properly aligned with the box spring.

To Rotate a Mattress

  1. Stand on one side of the bed with your partner standing on the other side. If the mattress has handles, grab onto them.
  2. Working together, turn the mattress 90 degrees. (The head and foot of the mattress should now be where the sides of the mattress usually are.)
  3. Turn the mattress another 90 degrees. The foot of the mattress should now be at the headboard and vice versa.
  4. Check that the mattress is properly aligned with the box spring.

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Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.