Could you be harming your health when you sleep? Maybe—are you sleeping on a conventional mattress, or an organic mattress?
Did you know conventional mattresses are loaded with chemicals? Some of these chemicals can make you downright sick. This is what happened to Sheila, who, for the last nine months felt unwell. She complained of low-grade headaches and of feeling tired no matter how much she slept. She just always felt zapped of energy.
Her husband also complained of low energy, as well as allergy symptoms, and developed dark circles under his eyes. Their kids’ behavior and moods changed, too. Oddly, they were both diagnosed with asthma, which required steroidal medication.
Together, Sheila and I went through a timeline to try to pinpoint when this all began.
Nine months ago, Sheila’s family purchased a new home. She figured it was the stress of the move, but in her gut, felt something was just not right. Through a series of questions, Sheila’s face went white—we hit the right question. Sheila had purchased everyone new mattresses.
Could that really be the root cause? Perhaps. Or, the final straw.
The stress of moving, chemicals in and around the home, and the lack of a good diet and sleep, all wear on the immune system. It could have been that the chemicals in the mattress were the tipping point for already-stressed immune systems.
Did you know you could be sleeping with lead, mercury, formaldehyde, arsenic, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, boric acid, antimony, and an array of other chemicals?
In fact, it is estimated that 90% of conventional mattresses contain harmful toxins and carcinogens that pose serious health risks.
Boric acid is a toxic chemical used to kill cockroaches. It is also used in the lining of mattresses. Chronic low-level poisoning can happen from inhaling boric acid. Antimony is a metal alloy used as a flame retardant in mattresses. Exposure over time, through skin and inhalation, leads to problems with fertility, miscarriage, eye, skin and lung irruption, liver and heart damage. Some research has associated it with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Formaldehyde is quite common, especially in memory foam. Chronic exposure to formaldehyde can cause a burning sensation in the eyes and nose, nausea, coughing, and skin problems, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Over time, as these chemicals break down, we breathe in more and more. Since, on average, we spend 2,627 hours a year sleeping, how is this affecting our health?
Some of these volatile organic compounds, as they break down, release harsher chemicals that can linger for years in our systems. The question is, how is this affecting our health?
Sheila replaced all the mattresses in her home with organic. Within a month, everyone’s symptoms had disappeared.
Think about newborns and infants. Studies have found that the chemicals found in mattresses, crib bedding, and upholstered furniture also make their way into our system. These chemicals have also been found in the blood and breast milk of nursing mothers.
As consumers, we have the power. If we start putting our health first and purchase organic mattresses, it will force the industry to change. We have seen this change happening in the food industry. Think back 15 years ago—could you purchase organic milk, ketchup, and peanut butter in a regular grocery store? We changed this.
Look for certified organic mattresses, which are typically a mixture of layers including natural wool and/or organic cotton, along with natural organic latex. Locally, one location to check out for an organic mattress is Organic Living in Phoenix.
When looking for an organic mattress, look for certifications such as Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), Rainforest Alliance-Certified, Rainforest Alliance-Certified Dunlop latex, Certified 100% organic wool fiber from New Zealand, USDA Organic label for cotton, USDA’s National Organic Program, Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC forest management certification.
Flame retardants are achieved with wool. Wool fibers are also a natural allergen retardant containing scales, which transports moisture and allergens away from the body. It also prohibits dampness, thus eliminating mold and dust mites.
Wool and latex mattresses help reduce back pain, improve respiratory health, and lead to a better night’s sleep.
Love your memory foam? Instead of synthetic toxic latex, opt for organic latex, which is required to meet the 1633 fire retardant laws and comply with the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS). There are two types; Dunlop is denser and firm, and Talalay has a softer, pillow-like surface.
The environmental footprint of an organic mattress includes renewable organic, sustainable, biodegradable, durable textiles, which also creates a longer life expectancy and fewer landfill trips—not to mention eliminating toxic chemicals that would leach into the soil.
Sleep is one of the most important things we must do. How are you sleeping? Are you suffering with mystery symptoms? How about testing out an organic mattress? Sweet dreams!