Sleep is one of the most important contributing factors to overall wellness. Consistently poor sleep will eventually lead to health issues, no matter how well we take care of every other aspect of our lives.
Conversely, optimizing sleep hygiene can help the body to recover, repair and restore itself in ways nothing else can. Only with proper sleep is our body able to effectively detoxify from the previous day. A good night’s sleep every night is one of the greatest things we can do to put our body in a position to heal itself.
Because we spend one-third of our lives sleeping in our beds, it’s important to make sure it’s not only cozy and comfortable, but safe and supportive. To this end, creating a space that is calm, clean and serene is essential. At the center of this lies the mattress you lay on all night long.
If there is one thing to invest in when it comes to your sleep, it’s an organic, non-toxic mattress. Unless you’ve already made a conscious effort to do so, chances are the mattress you spend 8 hours a day on is filled with toxins, pathogens and chemicals.
The beds and pillows we sleep on become reservoirs of bacteria, fungi, allergens and semi-volatile organic compounds, according to a 2017 literature review. As we toss and turn, all of these pathogens become stirred-up, resuspended and inhaled by our slumbering selves. Additionally, our body heat and moisture can trigger emission of gaseous chemicals used in the production of conventional mattresses.
Our beds, bedding and bed frames “emit a variety of VOCs [volatile organic compounds] and SVOCs [semi-volatile organic compounds] into the air around a sleeping person, including phenol, styrene, formaldehyde, phthalate and alternative plasticizers, and brominated and organophosphate flame retardants.”
The adverse health effects associated with chemicals found in mattresses include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches and even organ damage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). VOCs like benzene, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde have also been found to increase the risk of developing cancer.
Even after letting new mattresses air out for six months, “appreciable levels of off-gassing” persisted, according to a study that measured the various chemicals in mattresses.
Indoor air contains as much as 10 times the amount of VOCs as outdoor air. Considering Americans spend 93% of their lives indoors, limiting chemical exposure in the home should be paramount. While good ventilation, open windows and fans can help protect against indoor VOC exposure, eliminating the sources of VOCs in the first place is the best approach.
Choosing a mattress that is certified organic and non-toxic is the first place to start. The duration of time and close proximity we spend with our mattresses makes them one of the most important investments we can make for our health.
Fortunately, there has been an increase over the last 5-10 years in organic, non-toxic mattress options with prices that are much more accessible than they used to be. Here are some certifications to look for to ensure your next mattress is safe:
GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)
GOTS certified mattresses contain a minimum of 70 percent organic fibers.
GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard)
Mattresses with GOLS certification contain more than 95 percent of certified organic raw material.
CertiPUR-US foam is made without ozone depleters, heavy metals, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, formaldehyde or phthalates and is certified to have low VOC emissions.
Indicates VOCs are limited to 1/100th of the amount allowed before health side effects are experienced.
Certifies products have been screened for toxins, VOCs, endocrine disruptors, pesticides, carcinogens and more.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100
Ensures product materials have been tested for both regulated and unregulated chemicals that are potentially harmful.
Confirms latex, innerspring and foam mattresses have been tested for emissions and other harmful substances.
Intertek VOC Indoor Air Quality Certification
Tests for VOC emissions with two levels of certification: Clean Air Silver and Clean Air Gold.
Although I’ve been sleeping on an organic mattress for the last 7 years, I recently decided to upgrade my entire bedroom sleep set up and found everything I was looking for with Avocado Green Mattress.
Avocado Green Mattress is GOLS and GOTS certified with all sustainably-sourced organic latex, wool and cotton. Their mattresses are free of synthetic polyurethane foams and formaldehyde, as well as certified with Greenguard Gold, MADE SAFE non-toxic and OEKO-TEX Class 1. On top of all that, they’re a carbon-negative business, making them not only good for you, but good for the planet, as well.
Whichever mattress you decide to buy next, make sure to consider choosing one that has some or most of the certifications discussed here. If you want to get serious about detoxifying your life, switching to a non-toxic mattress is definitely worth the investment.