How to Choose a Healthy Mattress

Isn’t it amazing that we spend approximately one-third of our lives in bed? One-third! This is why I love transforming bedrooms into sleep sanctuaries. The bedroom is the most important room in the house for overall health and wellbeing.

This brings me to the focus of today’s post – the mattress.

Relatively little thought is given to the quality of the mattress. With mattress stores sprinkled all over the place, a variety of ready-to-ship bed-in-a-box solutions available at the push of a button, and slick social media marketing, mattresses are being produced and sold en masse to the general public with little transparency into the quality of the materials from which the mattress has been made.

Quality sleep in a healthy and safe environment can literally be life changing. What follows is the dirty secret of the mattress industry, and what you can do about it. 

Sleeping with the Enemy

There are typically 3 types of mass market mattresses in most homes – traditional spring-coil mattress, memory-foam mattresses, and hybrids (a combination of springs and foam). Two key issues in the health of most mattresses are the chemicals and materials used to construct the mattress and the chemicals and materials used to meet fire safety standards.

Now, depending on the age of your mattress, this information will vary. Let’s start with those of you sleeping on a traditional mattress made before 2007 (made, not purchased). Prior to 2007, traditional mattress manufacturers used flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). PBDEs are both absorbed through the skin and inhaled as the mattress ages, breaks down, and adds to the dust in the bedroom.

PBDEs contribute to lots of unfortunate health concerns.  They are hormone disrupting, obesogenic (chemicals that cause weight-gain), and are highly interactive with the human thyroid. PBDEs love human fat cells, and as such stay in our bodies for a long time. They are known as “bioaccumulative”, and given that pre-2007 mattresses are not the only source of PBDEs we are exposed to, it’s safe to say we all have them in our systems. 

PBDEs have been studied extensively and have been linked to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian, cervical, and breast cancers, challenges in female fertility, and low birthweight. I find it ironic that the very place we are trying to conceive could be contributing to our inability to do so.

PBDEs were outlawed in the manufacturing of mattresses in the U.S. starting in 2007 based on documented health concerns. 

Bottom line, if you’re sleeping on a pre-2007 mattress, it is definitely time for an upgrade.

For post-2007 traditional mattresses, the industry switched to a barrier fabric to prevent combustion. However, chemicals like formaldehyde are used in the manufacturing process. Formaldehyde is also a known human carcinogen, so this isn’t a great option, either.

We can’t forget about memory foam. (Get it? Forget? Memory? Anyway…) Memory foam is polyurethane – a petroleum bi-product. Petroleum? You guessed it – highly flammable. They don’t use barrier fabrics like a spring-coil mattress, and therefore the likelihood of a memory foam mattress containing other dangerous chemical flame retardants is high.

Aside from the flame retardants themselves, memory foam mattresses are full of, well, chemicals. I recently stayed with someone who had a new memory foam mattress in the guest room. Despite the manufacturer claiming it would off-gas in 1-4 days, this thing had been sitting there for months. I barely slept due to the intense smell. When I woke up the next morning, I felt like I had a bad college hangover. It was horrible.

There are numerous accounts of people’s poor experiences with memory foam toppers and mattresses, including headaches, rashes, and respiratory issues. Some have sent samples in for lab analysis that have returned with double-digit chemical profiles including multiple known human carcinogens, like benzene.

Additionally, despite manufacturer claims, these mattresses will continue to off-gas at some level for years, and as the mattresses age and break down, these chemicals will join the dust-bunnies under and around the bed (which are inhaled).

I know this was uncomfortable to read, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel…

Buy A Healthy Mattress

My recommendation? Go organic. Mattress, Pillows, Bedding, PJs. Everything organic.

Nature is the gold standard. When we have the chance to rest while snuggled safely in natural and organic materials, our bodies are allowed the space to cleanse and rejuvenate overnight. Night time is our chance to press pause on the toxins from the day so that our immune systems can restore and our bodies can heal.

When you begin your search, there are 4 certifications to look for when selecting your new, healthy mattress.

GOLS – Global Organic Latex Standard

GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard

OEKO-TEX

MADE SAFE

Organic mattresses use natural products like organic latex, organic cotton, and organic wool (a natural flame retardant!). The organizations listed above ensure that a majority of the materials used are organic and free from harsh and harmful chemicals. Use these certifications as guides when shopping so that you purchase healthier mattresses for you and your loved ones.

A Mattress For Everyone

I recently spoke with a friend who adamantly stated that she would never spend $5000 on something that she “just sleeps on”. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Organic mattresses do tend to be on the pricier side. However, rest assured that there are affordable options for everyone’s budget. Hopefully by now you see the value in knowing what you’re crawling into bed with. 

I’ve researched organic mattresses that start at just under $1,000 and range up to $60,000. You might be scratching your head at the thought of spending $60,000 on a bed. While I didn’t spend quite that much, my husband often jokes that I bought a Lexus for our bedroom. It’s not uncommon to spend well over $20,000 or more on a car, in which we definitely won’t spend one-third of our life. So, why not the bed? We use it for at least 8 hours every day, and sometimes more. It supports our health and well-being physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. We connect with our partners here in the most intimate of ways. In my view, it is completely worth every penny.

I’ve partnered with several organic mattress and bedding manufacturers to ensure my clients have access to the healthiest beds available. You can explore these resources by clicking HERE. If you want more tips on creating a healthy bedroom, be sure to check out my previous blog, 6 Steps to a Healthy Bedroom.


Are you ready to start sleeping better now?

Join me for “28 Nights to Better Sleep”.

During this 4-week course, you will be empowered with new information and action steps to reclaim the sleep you crave. Through knowledge and understanding of how your body falls asleep and what may be preventing the nourishing slumber you need, you will begin to take small steps and make subtle adjustments that will make a world of difference – literally overnight.  

We start January 31. Click HERE for details and registration.

Be sure to comment below, and share with everyone you love.

Until next time,