You probably don’t know this about me, but one of my all-time favorite things in the whole world is sleep. I love going to bed every night, and I’ve been this way most of my life. I was that nerd in high school who went to bed at 9:00 every school night. I did it mostly because I truly enjoy my sleep, but I knew that if I didn’t get enough sleep, I was more than just tired.
As I’ve gotten older and had babies, I realize now more than ever how important sleep is to my day to day routines. Being sleep deprived when my kids were little babies had made my love for sleep grow even more. There’s nothing quite like trying to take care of responsibilities when I feel like a zombie. You might be able to relate to that feeling of complete fogginess when it comes to having a night of little or no sleep.
This is the exact reason I’m such a stickler about my bedtime routines and it’s the reason I try to allow myself at least seven hours per night to rest up for a new day. But it got me thinking, there must be more to sleep than just the hours you put into it. The quality of sleep and the environment you sleep in have a HUGE impact on how rested you feel and how restored your body is. The quality of sleep can be affected by so many things, but one way we can control it a little bit is by paying careful attention to our sleep environment and what we’re sleeping on.
WHY IT MATTERS TO YOUR HEALTH
Have you ever thought about where you spend the majority of your time? We know that the vast majority of our time is spent inside our homes. But when you’re in your home, what room are you spending the most time in? If you’re sleeping somewhere between 6 and 8 hours per night, then the answer is likely, your bedroom.
And if you add that up over the course of just one year, you’re spending on average 2,555 hours in bed. That’s a lot of time, don’t you think? If you have kids, they’re likely spending even more time in their rooms and on their beds.
And it’s because of this fact that the health of our rooms is so incredibly important to our overall environment at home. Our bodies are coming into direct contact with our mattress, bedding and pillow for extended periods of time at our most vulnerable time.
What do I mean by this? Our bodies defenses are working their hardest at night, while we are sleeping and recovering. And with our defenses protecting the body, any additional burden in terms of toxins and chemicals can send our body into overdrive. A burdened body doesn’t have the ability to come back to a truly restored state. (Source)
What we need most at night is a toxin free environment that will assist our bodies in repairing all the damage done during the day.
The second part of the equation is that whatever we are sleeping on becomes our direct environment for those hours of slumber. This means any chemical or toxin has direct contact with our skin for that time period. And what we know about our skin is that not only is our largest organ, but it also absorbs what it comes in contact with. (Source) Our skin is like the gateway to our internal systems in the fact that it carries both good and bad to our bloodstream.
But it’s not just our skin that draws in toxins while we are on our mattresses, it’s also our lungs. With our face in such close proximity to the mattress we’re sleeping on, VOCs and other toxins that off-gas are inhaled. And just like our skin, it’s a direct route to our bloodstream, which is then circulated to our entire body.
So imagine if a mattress is as free from toxins as possible, what the benefit could be for your body and your immune system.
WHAT TO AVOID
Flame Retardants: While being protected from the potential of a fire at night is important, is it much better to sleep on a chemical toxin for hours every day? Brominated flame-retardants, or BFRs, have been linked to a multitude of problems and disorders in the past few years. (Source). The United States has the highest levels of these flame retardants in our products and materials compared to other counties. These flame retardants also include PBDEs, which are known to disrupt the hormone and reproductive systems as well as influence behavior in some individuals.
With other options to help reduce the risk of flammability, it’s best to avoid all chemical flame retardants in mattresses.
Synthetic Latex: Synthetic latex is made from petroleum based compounds, which should be avoided when you’re trying to create a toxin free environment. In addition to the petroleum based compounds used, other toxic chemicals are also added during the manufacturing process to make the foam for mattresses. Synthetic latex also off-gasses because of the VOCs present in the chemicals. These VOCs disperse into the air around the mattress while you’re sleeping, meaning you’re breathing in all those toxins.
Styrene is also a petroleum based product that is in synthetic latex used, which is a possible carcinogen. In addition to being carcinogenic, Styrene affects the central nervous system and kidneys negatively. (Source)
Vinyl and PVC: Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC is used in producing plastics, like waterproof protectors built for or onto mattresses. The toxins that are in PVC usually contain high levels of chlorine, which we know from studies is hazardous to health. (Source)
PVC also contains the same chemicals as flexible plastics, phthalates. We know that phthalates are to be avoided wherever possible as they linked to reproductive problems, disruption in hormones and possible cancer risk. (Source)
Synthetic Fragrances: With all of the chemicals that are used to make a mattress, often times there can be a strong chemical odor. In order to cover this smell and make a mattress more appealing to lay on, synthetic fragrances are usually added. Yikes! You can read more about synthetic fragrances here. But basically, fragrances that don’t come from natural sources are made of petrochemicals, or crude oil. The ingredients used to make the scent are then absorbed into our bloodstream and travel through our body, affecting our systems. In particular, it affects the endocrine system and can ultimately affect reproduction. (Source)
For me this falls into the category of , “I had no idea!”. But there it is. It’s just another reason we have to be so diligent in doing the research before trusting what any company or product is touting as a great product.
Chemical Antimicrobials: Added as a “benefit” to any mattress, these synthetic antimicrobials are intended to keep a mattress clean from microbes. But let’s be completely real here: We live in a world where over-sanitizing is definitely a thing. I’m guessing that your mattress will be sitting in a pretty clean environment in the first place, so really using a chemical antimicrobial is ultimately having the opposite effect. (Source)
By using a chemical antimicrobial, we’ve created this problem of breeding stronger bugs and bacteria. It’s the idea behind the superbug. Using a natural antimicrobial material is a much better option as well as just cleaning your mattress and with baking soda and keeping it dry. (Source)
Petroleum Based Foam: This is Polyurethane and often times memory foam. These are petrochemicals and emit harmful VOCs. Even mattresses who boast that they’re made of plant based foams emit VOCs, just like polyurethane foam. Polyurethane foam often times contains flame retardants right in the foam, which as mentioned above, should be avoided. But polyurethane also releases toxic toluene into the air, which is also in gasoline fumes, vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke. (Source) (Source)
In addition to the foam itself being toxic, there are also glues used in the manufacturing process to bond the inner layers of the foam, mattress components and fabrics together. As you might already know, standard glues and adhesives contain VOCs as well as formaldehyde that off-gas for the entire life of the product. Specifically, these adhesives and glues have been linked to cancer, heart damage, nervous system problems, and liver and kidney issues. (Source)
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN AFFORDABLE NON TOXIC MATTRESS
GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) Certification: One of the best certifications you can find when it comes to organic textiles and fibers. The criteria covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of fabrics with this certification. Textiles must be made from at least 70% certified organic fibers. These fibers must follow strict mandates during the processing and manufacturing process. Restrictions from use of synthetic compounds like PVC, chlorine, heavy metals, formaldehyde and solvents are just one of the ways they protect the product being made.
GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) Certification: This certification has strict requirements for latex that is made from organic, raw materials. To achieve this certification, a product must contain more than 95% of certified organic raw material. It also must pass an emission test ensuring the fewest number of harmful substances. This certification outlines a very clear procedure from the farmer or field level to the manufacturing process. Any product with this logo has to follow mandatory social and environmental regulations as well.
Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Label: This certification is for more than just the textiles used, but also has requirements for additional components of a product including thread, accessory parts and coatings on the product. They require products made from organic cotton without the use of harmful chemicals at any stage of production. Their Product ClassIV covers mattresses in their decorations/furnishings standard requirements.
Organic Cotton: Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. In general, organic cotton is a non-irritant as no bleach or chemicals are used in the processing of the product. Cotton has a high level of breathability, which helps your mattress stay dry instead of trapping moisture in the fibers, which can lead to problems with bacteria. It also helps naturally keep your mattress and sleeping environment cool.
Organic Wool: Wool is a great material for mattresses, and has been used for many generations. Wool is a renewable resource from sheep and has many beneficial properties when it comes to a mattress. Sheep’s wool is naturally flame resistant and keeps bedding naturally drier than other materials as it is moisture-wicking. This means it naturally resists mold and mildew.
Natural and Organic Based Latex Based Foam: With the proper certifications, you can be assured that this is a chemical free option that contains no chemical properties. Natural latex is derived from the bark of rubber trees. Natural latex is naturally hypo-allergenic and helps regulate temperature as you sleep. Another benefit is that natural latex foam is naturally flame resistant, eliminating the need for additional chemical flame retardants.
THE BEST BRANDS FOR AN AFFORDABLE NON TOXIC MATTRESS
Happsy: Consisting of organic cotton, organic wool and organic latex, this mattress boasts as one of the most comfortable mattresses. They do use springs in pocket coil form to help with the structure of the mattress.
They also do not use any glues or adhesives, and instead use sewing techniques to manufacture the mattress. They have a number of certifications, but most importantly, they are GOTS and GOLS Certified. Happsy has other accessories like pillows and toppers to go with their mattresses if you love them.
Avocado Green Mattress: Another great option as it holds both GOTS and GOLS certifications. They use 100% natural and organic latex, wool and cotton to make up the layers of the mattress. The steel springs they use in various areas of the mattress are made from recycled steel and encapsulated in fabric.
They also have a vegan mattress option, which is different from their green mattress in the sense that it uses just cotton and no wool.
Eco Terra Mattresses: Their mattresses are a great option if you want an organic mattress without a huge price tag. Their products are GOTS certified and made with 100% organic materials. They too use organic latex foam rubber, organic wool and organic cotton batting to make up their mattresses. They use some springs in their mattress, which are fully encapsulated in fabric and used to create a firm and comfortable bed.
They focus on JUST their handcrafted mattresses, which means they’re completely focused on just one area, which may be better for the consumer.
HEALTHY MATTRESS CARE
Cleaning: There are so many great ways to clean your mattress. And getting in the habit of doing so every couple months is a great idea. One of the ways you can get your mattress smelling fresh and clean it is by sprinkling baking soda on the mattress itself. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes and then vacuum it up.
Another way is to make your own spray (if you’re wondering, all of these ingredients come in a Premium Starter Kit). You’ll need a 6 oz spray bottle to start.
DIY THIEVES MATTRESS CLEANER
- 4 oz water
- 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 5 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 15 drops Purification Essential Oil
- ¼ cup Thieves Cleaner
Combine the ingredients by shaking in a 6 oz spray bottle. Spray on your mattress and allow it to dry completely. Shake well before each use.
Zipped Cover: Using an all natural mattress cover can help protect your mattress from sweat, dust and other things that may come in contact with your mattress. Let’s remember we’re spending about a third of our life sleeping, so our mattresses are definitely being used!
Finding a cover that is both natural and has a zipper is best as it will fully encapsulate the mattress itself and protect. Also look for a cover that can be machine washed and get in the habit of washing it every so often with your sheets.
Rotate: Make sure you’re rotating your mattress every so often to ensure your wearing it out evenly. No one wants a divot in the middle of the mattress or at one end. By rotating it ever six to eight weeks, you can avoid this problem all together.
Change Your Sheets: Keeping your sheets clean and rotated is a very important part of mattress health. Sheets are protecting your mattress and if not changed frequently, can harbor dust and bacteria. Getting into the habit of washing your sheets every 1-2 weeks is ideal. And then make sure your washing them in an all natural laundry detergent.
The first step to finding an affordable non toxic mattress is knowing what certifications are the best and highest. Look for GOTS Certifications or GOLS certifications when it comes to your mattress. Aim for products that are made of 100% natural latex, which comes from the sap and bark of rubber trees. Also look for 100% organic wool and 100% organic cotton. These three brands are the best options for an affordable non toxic mattress: