One important part of our journey to a healthier lifestyle has been a gradual shift in our bedding choices. At first, this didn’t seem like something that would make a big difference in overall health, but as I researched it, I found how important healthy mattresses and bedding options can be.
What’s In A Mattress?
By law, mattresses have to pass certain standards for being flame retardant. As many of the substances used to make regular mattresses are not naturally flame retardant, this means that manufacturers must add chemicals to be able to satisfy the flame retardant requirements (which include it not catching fire when a blow torch is used on it).
According to this article, this can mean:
“Manufacturers are dousing them [mattresses] with highly toxic flame-retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ether, better known as PBDE, which do NOT have to be disclosed in any way.
PBDEs, which have been banned in Canada, Europe and several states, build up in your body over time, and what you absorb or inhale does not go away. This is concerning not only because of the health problems PBDE is associated with (brain and reproductive damage, decreased sperm quality, thyroid problems and even cancer at high levels), but also because of how pervasive these chemicals have become.”
Since we spend up to 1/3 of our life sleeping, the chemicals in a mattress can be a big source of exposure and have been linked to problems like allergies, asthma, fertility problems/hormone imbalance and even autism in sensitive individuals. Some, like Dr. Mercola, make a strong case for the potential dangers even of the springs of mattresses which can amplify electromagnetic radiation during sleep. (For this reason, and also to reduce inflammation, I sleep on a grounding mat on my bed)
Even if a mattress isn’t causing these problems, switching to organic/natural options is an easy way to reduce chemical exposure (definitely easier than getting kids used to taking fermented cod liver oil!).
This article has some great information and references for avoiding chemicals in mattresses and bedding.
What to Look For:
Not all organic/natural mattresses are created equal and some can have the same issues as conventional mattresses. If you choose to pursue a healthy option, here are some things to look for:
- Organic, chemical free wool- Wool is naturally flame retardant and also resistant to mold and bacteria. It is often used as a cloth diaper cover because of its ability to repel water.
- Organic, chemical free cotton
- Organic, chemical free latex- I react to commercial latex in latex gloves but have no problem with the organic latex in our mattresses. Organic latex gives firmness and support to the mattress without the need for springs or metal. Natural latex is also resistant to mold and dust mites and great for temperature regulation.
What We Chose:
We are still in the process of switching all of our mattresses (it is definitely an expensive process, but an investment we consider well worth it). The crib mattress was a top priority, as well as the mattress for our son (who was premature and in NICU) as we work on healing his dairy allergy with the GAPS diet.
I looked at a lot of companies and had narrowed it down to a few companies that offered bedding that fit my criteria above. When I was able to try/review an organic baby mattress from Obasan, I new I had found a great fit for our family’s needs.
Obasan is actually a Canadian company, but their service was prompt and the mattress arrived at our door. They have wool/rubber/cotton mattresses and the mattress was soft, yet firm. There was absolutely no chemical smell, only a very faint “natural” smell from the wool (if that makes any sense). We are now in the process of budgeting and saving for a king size mattress and mattresses/pillows for all the kids (probably Christmas for all of us this year).
This was the crib mattress that we chose for our daughter, and we have been very pleased with it. I actually took a nap on it before putting it on her bed, and it was very comfortable (though a tad short for me!)…
What absolutely shocked me was the immediate change in our daughter’s sleep habits. At a year old, she was still waking to nurse a few times through the night, though more out of restlessness than actual hunger (she was eating a lot during the day). I would nurse her to get her back to sleep, but this was getting very tiring.
The first day we switched to her new mattress (and an organic down comforter), she slept all night. I thought it had to be a coincidence, until she did it the next night too. Don’t get me wrong, she has been a very easy baby, but she had been waking during the night to nurse since birth. I had not slept through an entire night since she was born. After the third night, I was ecstatic. She even slept through the night when my husband and I took a weekend away and her grandmother took care of her!
I don’t know exactly what the connection was that caused the change in her sleep patterns, but I certainly wish I’d gotten around to trying organic bedding a long time ago (like before I had my first… oh the sleepless nights!). I would guess that the absence of chemicals, the increased comfort of the newer mattress, or even just the change itself contributed to her sleeping better, but honestly, whatever the reason, I’m glad we switched. (All of my siblings will also be getting an organic mattress for their first baby as a gift from us… don’t tell… I don’t think they read my blog .
This is a topic I am still researching and will definitely continue to post as I try and find out more. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your experience. Have you ever tried organic bedding? Did you notice a difference? Is this something you’ve researched too and will try in the future? Share below!
Disclosure: I was given the chance to review a crib mattress from Obasan, though they were one of the companies I was already considering and we are in the process of ordering more products from them. They shipped it to our door and their customer service is amazing. Currently, their products are not available online, but by visiting their website and giving them a call, they can answer any questions you may have and help you order if you decide to try their mattresses. I think they also have a special through December for a free organic comforter with each mattress purchase. The above links are not affiliate links and I do not make a commission or benefit in any way from the sale of Obasan products.