I originally named this post “Is Your Bed Killing You?” just to be dramatic, ’cause that’s how I do, but I chose to chill out a bit. I’m going to get plenty neurotic during this (and future) posts on the subject, so I don’t want to overwhelm you right out of the gate. As anyone who is in my life knows I have recently undertaken the monumental project of researching the various options for a healthy sleep environment. Our current sleep situation is rather depressing. Our bed is comfortable and supportive and would actually be a perfect support layer if we were happy with the size, but we want a bigger bed. As far as pillows go we have one 100% white goose down, one tempurpedic, one costco (chemical death) foam, two down and feather, one king poly-fill for hugging, and one poly-fill body pillow used at the head like a bolster. Insanity. One thing you should know about me: I’m obsessed with pillows. However, as you can tell I haven’t been too obsessed with the health of our pillow situation, until now.
Our bed is a Queen-ish size piece of foam, 6 inches thick that I purchased while living in Seattle 7 years ago. It is off-gassing still I’m sure. I smelled it for at least a year. While many very expensive “organic” mattress companies (like Sealy) use straight-up poly-foam as their base layer and then add a few layers of all-natural latex to the top and then charge $3,000+ for it and call it good, I am striving to go above and beyond the high price point and find a truly healthy and all natural sleeping environment for a fraction of the cost.
(Also, I don’t know what is happening in the above photo, but it makes me want to sleep and that is exactly what I’m looking for in a bed. Gimme dat bed.)
Enter “Bee the research maniac”. In order to achieve such a lofty (ha, pardon the pun…bedding verbiage humor) goal, one must delve deep into the chasms of internet blah and blabber. It really takes becoming OBSESSED in order to find the Truth. I’ve spent countless hours in chat rooms, on blogs and websites, emailing and on the phone with different customer service representatives, watching youtube videos on how latex is extracted and transported, or videos on how to mix lavender into your buckwheat hulls…once again I assure you, I know more than you know about non-toxic sleep at the price of my own sanity. You can now sit back and relax while I inform you of exactly what is the healthiest and most affordable, yet highest quality, clean, and best sleep you will ever have in your life.
But why does it really matter? Are you comfortable and find that you wake well rested without aches or pains? Brilliant. This post is not for you. If you are at all like the rest of us who spend up to 1/3 of their lives in bed but find that they continually wake with numbness, or foggy-ness of the brain; or if your are concerned that your sleeping environment might be toxic (as most are, more on that in a minute), then this post is for you. If you are due for a new bed then read this. I have never been one to spend real money on a bed or bedding. It seems ridiculous to drop over a grand on a bed until you consider the difference it makes in your daily life. Yes, I am all about comfort and the dream of sleeping on a cloud. But I am also practical and the truth is, when we get real restful sleep we are operating at 100% during the day, and so much more not only feels achievable, it actually is.
There is the issue of comfort, but then there is the issue of toxins and chemicals used in the making of your bed/bedding. You don’t smoke and never would? What you breathe for an average of 8 hours a night might be just as bad. Not joking. Then there is the dust mite issue. Did you know that dust mites and all that goes along with an infestation of them (which exists in your bed unless you have taken measures to ensure it does not) are responsible for asthma attacks, coughing/sleeping/breathing issues in a large percentage of the population?
When you take measures to ensure you are sleeping on and with all natural fibers, you very often are choosing naturally dust-mite resistant materials. This is much like how eating natural foods is just easy for your body to make sense of and digest. Choosing natural materials ensures an anti-microbial, antibacterial, and dust-mite resistant sleep environment. Pretty cool.
Some of the most popular mattresses out there use springs. They wear and compress, and way way way sooner than most people are ready to purchase a new mattress, they are no longer supportive for the body. What about Tempurpedic? Well, I was into it for a while. In fact, when I started this research it was Tempurpedic that I thought I was saving $ for. I discovered some pretty nasty things about what goes into a memory foam mattress throughout my research. Not only are the chemicals horrible, but a memory foam mattress actually compresses and turns to compacted dust, essentially, over time. So why the crazy high price point? Haven’t you noticed the amount of advertising that company does? It costs big money. Big money. People don’t do their due diligence and they get bamboozled.
When I first stumbled upon latex I was convinced it was a man-made thing. Sounds like it doesn’t it? Or I’m not so smart, which is totally possible. I thought latex was icky and toxic, which is funny because it is actually the opposite. Latex is derived from the rubber tree and is a 100% natural product. It does everything memory foam claims to do, but it actually does it; and it does it without the use of chemicals.
As far as a bed goes latex is what I knew I wanted, but which company could be trusted? Which company wasn’t using the words “natural” and “organic” dishonestly? Which companies were jacking their prices sky-high just because? Oh the hours I’ve dedicated to this quest.
The thing is, we didn’t have a huge budget for this. We needed every. single. dollar. we spent to be toward a quality product that not only was what it claimed to be, but that was a screaming deal. The amount of misinformation out there regarding mattresses is blinding, but more than that, a small amount of research will have you talking mattress-ingredient circles around most sales people.
You know how when you hear Truth you know it? I knew I was reading a no bull-honkey approach to selling mattresses when I began poring over the pages of Ken’s site. He wasn’t trying to sell me something as much as he was educating me and helping me wade through the mounds of poop that surround the real deal when it comes to mattress shopping. Speaking of wading through all of it, do yourself a favor and check out The Mattress Underground. What an exceptional resource for anyone looking to purchase a mattress. Phoenix, the guy who runs it, responds to every comment and is extremely helpful.
(It’s really interesting the actual process of making latex mattresses. I won’t take time on it, but talalay vs dunlop is a good search. Also, is it strange that I want to eat the latex being poured in the above photo? It’s like whipped egg whites and heavy cream in the form of something heavenly for me to sleep on…just me?)
Another thing I had to find a way around was the chemicals used as fire retardants. Guess what? Mother freaking nature (or God if you are a whack-job like me) has natural fire retardants.
More on wool in part 2 since wool is a truly amazing material.
So I have found the type of mattress. I have found the company that does is right and at a GREAT price. I also found a third-party resource to back up my selection. Now what type of bedding?
I’ll give you a hint. It’s a plant, and it’s not gosh-darn cotton.
Natural bed linens and bedding in part 2 of this post. Also in part 2 I plan to share with you what I have found to be the best and most promising options for natural pillows; breaking it down into the type of sleep positions and desired firmness. However, as I am not made of money I will need to wait to actually try each one out and update you. But as far as making an educated guess goes, I’m way into the safe zone as far as the education is concerned. Part 3 will be the actual bed makeover.