Is Your Mattress Secretly Out To Kill You?

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Have you considered that one of the most consistent places you ever will be, for at least 8 hours every day of your life, is in your bed? You probably don’t realize this but next to your family, your bed is possibly one of the most important things in your life! Many studies now show as a society we get at least 1-2 hours less sleep than in the 1940’s. The CDC in 2009 reported nearly 9 million people take sleeping pills for insomnia, disrupted sleep, or painful sleep. Sleep problems are becoming epidemic along with the rise in illness and autoimmune disease, diabetes and toxicity.

Throughout the years, mattresses have seen a huge metamorphosis from just a regular box spring made of woods, coils and cottons to synthetic plastics, latex, elastic and foams. The evolution of new mattresses with new material means additional chemicals to be aware of. We as consumers are taught to look for mattresses that can enhance deep sleep, give our spines proper support and relieve painful pressure for 8 hours. We generally assume most mattresses are environmentally safe, but a major concern with the new and improved mattresses are fumes and chemicals that come from the synthetic material in our modern plastic world.

The top part of the mattress is meant to be supportive and comfortable.  This support layer for your spine and bones can be comprised of a core made of air, foam or innerspring unit. The comfort layer is meant to create air circulation and remove pressure from your body and is made of a combination of synthetic latex (rubber), memory viscoelastic, soy, and polyurethane foams. These synthetic materials have replaced the old steel springs and cotton used in the “old days”. In addition to these synthetic compounds, in 2006 the federal government passed a law that required mattresses to contain enough Fire Retardant to withstand a 2 foot wide blowtorch open flame for 70 seconds.

Here are some of the problems with today’s modern mattress:

Off-gassing

The use of petroleum based products are what causes off-gassing. Carcinogenic and harmful, Volatile Organic Compound (V.O.C.) are of concern like formaldehyde (a preservative), chlorofluorocarbons (blowing agents), and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers/PBDEs (fire retardants). These chemicals may present a problem in people with sensitive respiratory systems or chemical sensitivities. It is quite common to see eye, nose and throat irritation, nausea, and headaches that may develop with exposure. Studies have been linked to longer-term effects like central nervous system damage, organ damage, and cancer. The fastest growing segment of the mattress industry is memory foam made from polyurethane foam and additive chemicals. Polyurethane foam is highly flammable and therefore many flame retardants are usually added to the mix.

 

Alignment and Pressure Support

The synthetic support from the new foam materials in latex and memory foam wears with use quicker than with cotton or natural rubber. As chiropractor I know the importance in having firm support for the neck and shoulders and the low back and hips. This requires proper pressure to hold up these body parts against gravity. The new synthetic mattress material softens with repeated use and you begin to see body indentations, impressions and dips due to the materials inability to rebound over time. The life of a new mattress is only 3-8 years compared to its old cotton counterpart of 20 years.

 

Fire Retardants

Fire retardants are chemicals of all sorts including, methylene chloride, heavy metals, phthalates and formaldehyde. Without having to pull out an encyclopedia of sources proving the dangers in sleeping and breathing in chemicals, I think it’s safe to say, “THIS JUST CAN’T BE GOOD!” Personally, I wouldn’t want my baby, loved one or myself breathing chemical soup all night, every night. Talk about nightmares! Mattress producers are required by law to prove to the federal government that their products can extinguish an open flame but not required to tell the consumer what materials they are using.

So by now you are saying to yourself, “What alternatives do I have?” When looking for a new mattress, I would look for one that is organic and natural. They are generally a bit more expensive but worth the cost in that the natural rubber material they use will last the 20 years you are looking for and especially because they have no out gassing or flame retardants in them. They embed their mattresses with wool (which is a natural flame retardant) therefore, no harsh chemicals are used in the making and most come with a 30 year warranty. If you are looking for a quality mattress that you don’t have to be worried about being poisoned while sleeping, here are a few references:

In Vienna, VA there is Savvy Rest Natural Beds (www.savvyrest.com); they offer a 10% discount in store to anyone who mentions Dr. Seleme. At Urban Mattress (www.urbanmattress.com), they have various discounts on their items and even sometimes a free pillow—just ask! Tell both of them Dr. Seleme sent you to receive the discount offer.  You can go to their websites to look at mattresses or go to their store in Vienna to try it out. Another great source is www.cozypure.com, although they don’t have a store in the area, you can always take a drive to their warehouse in Norfolk, VA and try out one of their natural rubber mattresses.

I believe staying informed and aware of your environmental surroundings is one of the best ways to protect you and your family from unseen chemicals and toxins in our everyday lives. If you are looking for a better way to get a safe and peaceful sleep you make want to look into these organic, natural mattresses for your bed. Here’s to getting all the comfy zzzzzz’s you deserve. See you in the morning!

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