Top 3 things to look for in a new mattress

Are you hoping for a better night's sleep?  Looking to upgrade your mattress?  Before you do, there a few things you should know.

Photo by IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock / Getty Images

Firstly, are you aware that most mattresses sold on the Australian market are made from petroleum-based polyurethane, and are treated with potentially lethal flame retardants?

Even a mattress that is ten years old can still off-gas.  That is, release toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that you then breathe in.

Many flame retardant chemicals have been linked to serious health risks, such as hormone disruptions, infertility, birth defects, neuro-developmental delays, cancer, reduced IQ and behavioural problems in children.  This study showed that both prenatal and childhood exposures to the flame retardant chemical PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ether) were associated with poorer attention, fine motor coordination, and cognition in school-age children.

Recent research suggests that these chemicals are also poisoning our pets and wildlife.

Here are our 3 top tips when it comes to ensuring a peaceful, chemical-free sleep

1.      Ask for materials that are free from harmful flame-retardants

Search online, ask questions and check the manufacturing specs before purchasing your new mattress.  Find out what safer options are available.

Also watch out for stain and/or water-resistant products, as these tend to contain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are also toxic to human health and best avoided.

2.      Opt for natural fibres for your new mattress

Wool is one material that naturally repels fire.  Some organic wool brands also avoid pesticides.  Non-toxic and anti-microbial latex mattresses are also great options.  Certified organic latex mattresses do not contain any chemicals, synthetics, pesticides, herbicides or other man made products.

Photo by fotokostic/iStock / Getty Images

3.      Update your bed linen

Aside from your mattress, overhauling your bed linen could make all the difference to getting a good, restful sleep.

Natural fibres such as cotton or hemp that breathe, contribute to a better sleep as moisture is wicked off the skin.  By contrast, synthetic materials such as polyester are less hygienic as they trap moisture and allow microbes and dust mites to flourish.

Once you’ve settled on a natural fibre, look for an organic option if you can.  Unfortunately if pesticides have been used to grow the crop, they often stay within the fibres, meaning you could be breathing them in during your sleep.  Non-organic cotton for example often retains pesticides along with cotton smoothing agents (containing formaldehyde) in the final product.

When it comes to pillows and quilts it’s worth looking into eucalyptus, buckwheat, tea tree or corn-fibre.  There’s also newer fibre called kapok (also known as Java cotton) which is made from the pods of the kapok tree.  It is light, naturally repels mites and bacteria, and is usually grown organically.

Can’t afford a new mattress?

Don’t worry, we have a solution for you too.  Cover your current one with a non-toxic mattress protector that is at least 2.5cm thick. This will prevent you from breathing in those nasty chemicals.

Here’s hoping your next sleep is a healthy, comfortable, peaceful and chemical-free one.  Sweet dreams!

Sleep like a baby www.thehappyhabitat.com.au