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Green Product Reviews

A Better Healthier Night’s Sleep?

By Dr. Erin A. Winter, MD

Everyday we make choices to live healthier and more sustainably, whether by exercising, meditating or choosing local organic foods. We go even further and buy low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and carpool or bike to work. And we compost and recycle. But do we ever think about what we are exposed to while we sleep? Could our mattress be unhealthy? And how do you even buy a “healthy” mattress? I considered all this while buying my new mattress.

Nationally, quite a few companies advertise “healthy” mattresses. These include organic cottons, natural latex, sustainable wool and low chemical contents (VOCs), such as fire retardants and adhesives. At first, I sought out a memory foam mattress, which seemed to be the best for long term back health. After a sizeable amount of research I discovered that many “health” claims made by mattress manufacturers were simply untrue, especially regarding memory foam. Most memory foam mattresses are made with toxic VOCs and have been shown to emit these chemicals over their lifetime – memory foam pillows, too. Also, it turns out any medium firm mattress, if made well, can support a healthy back!

I decided to buy from Lifekind of northern CA whose mission is to create a sleep environment free from exposure to hazardous chemicals. Customer service is extremely helpful and knowledgeable. They take an in-depth sleep/health history before recommending the mattress best suited to your needs. I was lucky to be able to visit their showroom and ‘test drive’ their mattresses. I did end up choosing the one they picked for me.

Their website states: A Lifekind® organic mattress is guaranteed to be made with 100% certified organic cotton (guaranteed grown without the use of pesticides and other processing chemicals) and Naturally Safer® pure wool. Mattress cores are made with steel springs or Talalay natural rubber, and pillowtops with Naturally Safer pure wool or Talalay natural rubber. All materials are from renewable resources that support sustainable agriculture. Even the cotton thread is certified organic. These claims are backed by multiple certifications on their website.

I went with The Euro Soft Top, a natural rubber mattress with a medium to firm feel and a soft pillow top. This mattress is dense (and heavy!). We needed to drill extra holes in our platform bed to allow for air circulation. I was used to a much softer mattress and the firm-ness did take some getting used to. Overall, it is a very comfortable and I do sleep better knowing I am reducing my exposure to chemicals. These mattresses have a slightly higher price point, but are comparable to other high-quality non-organic mattresses. The company also has a white sale every January which may be worth waiting for! Lifekind is a company worth supporting:  www.lifekind.com 

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