March 19, 2010

A Safer Sleep - Choosing a Healthy Mattress

Since we spend a third of our life sleeping, the mattress on which you sleep should be free of off-gassing toxic chemicals and allergy triggers.  That is not as easy to achieve as one might think, as product goals are often in conflict with one another.

Let me explain:

Organic Cotton 
Benefit:  Grown without pesticides, organic cotton is a far better environmental choice than traditionally grown cotton, which may be the single most polluted crop on the planet.
Issue:  Many sensitive individuals find that they cannot tolerate organic cotton, as it is not stripped of its natural oils and aromas in the traditional bleaching process

Natural Latex
Benefit:  Unlike its petroleum-based synthetic counterpart, natural latex provides resistance to dust mites, a common cause of allergy symptoms.
Issue:  Latex is a major allergy trigger for some people.

Benefit:  A natural flame retardant that naturally enables consumers to fulfill U.S. law that requires flame retardant in all mattresses -- which sadly means that most of the mattresses in this country are filled with toxic chemicals on which we sleep for 1/3rd of our lives -- a perfect example of how a well-intended goal (preventing death by fire) has done more harm than good in its execution (exposing adults and the more fragile developing bodies of babies and kids to significant toxicity levels).
Issue:  Wool is also an allergen that can cause many people trouble.

The good news is that, if you are like me and have issues on all of the counts above, there is still an option.... an all-cotton bed.  It requires a doctor's note that protects the manufacturer if they sell you a mattress without any flame retardant in it.

A great resource for beds that fit your environmental and personal goals can be found on "The Queen of Green" Debra Lynn Dadd's Green Living website.

After much review, I decided to try a 100% Cotton Chemical Free Mattress from White Lotus Home, with a note from the allergist.  It met my personal health criteria, and was more affordable than many other alternatives, even after I splurged on the full 8" thickness instead of the standard 6".  I expect that these beds will provide a very firm sleep, which is a personal preference.  I will let you know how it works out.

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