If we could only give you one piece of advice, it’d be this: buy a 2-sided mattress.
A 2-sided mattress allows you to sleep on both sides, because both sides are made with identical comfort layers. Comfort layers are the fibers used to pad the ‘core,’ or center, of the mattress to make it more comfortable for sleeping.
Many mattresses these days are made only one-sided, meaning that one side of the mattress (the side meant for sleeping) has comfort layers, and the other side is flat and not meant to be slept on. It’s looked at as the “bottom” of the mattress. If you walk through most mainstream mattress stores, you’ll see an abundance of one-sided, ‘can’t flip’ mattresses. In fact, some mattress stores these days only sell ‘can’t flip’ models.
Two-sided mattresses are not all alike. Just like with any other mattress, the materials it’s made of will affect the comfort life. However, regardless of the layers used, a two-sided mattress will undoubtedly last longer than a similarly constructed one-sided bed.
The number one reason is because the just-slept-on side flattens out after it’s been flipped. This helps even out the wear pattern, ensuring a longer life for the comfort layers. Over time, both sides wear more or less evenly, and both sides feel the same when slept on.
With a one-sided mattress, you sleep in the same spot in the bed night after night, year after year. The comfort layers never have a chance to even back out by being on the “bottom” side of the mattress. So your mattress wears out quickly.
What ever happened to 2-sided mattresses?
It used to be that every mattress was made 2-sided. If you’re over the age of 40, you probably grew up flipping and rotating your mattress a couple times a year. (Or if you didn’t, at least you could have, because both sides of the mattress were the same and meant to be slept on.)
So what happened? Where did all the flippable mattresses go?
The compromise of an industry
Starting in the 1990s, private equity firms moved in on the struggling mattress industry, buying up Big Name Mattress Brands left and right. No longer were “mattress people” in control of manufacturing. Now the “money people” were running the show.
The first thing these controllers aimed to do was cut costs. They targeted the most expensive part of a mattress: its comfort layers.
Their solution? Cut off one side of each mattress and market these ‘one-sided mattresses’ as a benefit to the customer. The marketing machine got to work. Now, consumers would be told they no longer needed to flip their new mattress because these ‘new, innovative mattress materials’ would ensure enhanced comfort.
But anyone watching the market can see this isn’t true. These days, consumers find themselves needing to replace their mattress every 3-10 years. How’s that for new, innovative, magical mattress materials? Our parents and grandparents got 10-20 (sometimes even thirty!) years out of their mattresses. And nope, it’s NOT because our older family members were willing to put up with discomfort.
Over the past 20 years, it’s become more difficult for customers to find flippable mattresses.
Today, many mainstream mattress stores only sell one-sided mattresses. Some retailers even tell customers, “They don’t make two-sided ones anymore.”
Well, despite what you may have heard, manufacturers DO still make 2-sided mattresses. But most mainstream manufacturers only sell one-sided, ‘can’t flip’ mattresses to consumers. They sell the 2-sided ones to the hotel industry, where value is top priority.
What hoteliers know that consumers don’t
If you want a mattress to last for many years while remaining comfortable, buy a 2-sided mattress and flip and rotate it on a schedule to ‘even out’ the wear pattern. This is what hotels and motels do to keep their beds comfortable and their guests sleeping happily.
Why would manufacturers want consumers to buy one-sided mattresses? The answer is easy: money.
Manufacturers save up to 25% in costs on making a one-sided mattress. And since most of the cost of a mattress is in the comfort layers (latex, cotton, wool, gel), and the comfort layers are the part of a mattress that wears out the quickest, selling consumers a mattress they can’t flip is smart business. The mattress will wear out faster and the customer will be back in the market sooner shopping for a replacement.
So why are consumers settling for ‘can’t flip’ mattress? Again, the answer is easy: marketing.
Retailers market the shortcomings of ‘can’t flip’ mattresses as benefits to the consumer. “No need to flip!” they proclaim. “Never flip your mattress again.” Or “save your back, don’t flip your mattress.” This last one makes us chuckle. They should say, “If you want to give yourself back problems, don’t flip your mattress!”
Manufacturers love to sell you on the swanky mattress material du jour, the one that makes all your aches and pains go away and prevents you from ever having to flip your mattress.
Friends, this story just isn’t true.
No magical mattress materials
Today’s mattresses are made with the same stuff they have been for years — fibers like cotton, wool, kapok, buckwheat, down, and botanical latex. Spring coils, which can be used in conjunction with any other material, are nothing new.
Any “newly invented” or “new technology” mattress material a manufacturer claims to be in possession of is a just a prettily-named chemical compound. And chemicals off-gas, which is detrimental to your health and the planet.
Make sure you buy 2-sided
It’s still possible to find stores that sell 2-sided mattresses. You just have to do your research. Look online or call around and ask. If a sales person tries to sell you on a ‘can’t flip’ mattress, be direct about why you want only 2-sided.
Flipping and rotating a good quality, 2-sided mattress on a regular schedule will prolong its life (longevity) and give you maximum comfort for your dollar over time.
So, will you embrace 2-sided?
Now it’s time to talk what goes into a mattress — literally.