Be Cautious about Memory Foam

Written by
on September 15, 2013

memory foam mattress

Everything here is my perspective and opinion and based on my and my husband’s experience and research. This is our personal story about our memory foam mattress.

What comes to mind when you hear memory foam?

  1. Comfortable: I loved my memory foam mattress. I’d had it 3 years almost exactly when we learned what I’m about to tell you. Anyway, it was very comfortable.
  2. Smelly: The chemical-ish smell eventually went away, I think. Maybe I just got used to it.
  3. Expensive. We spent about $3700 on our mattress (king-sized). This price included the box springs.
  4. Stiff: The bed was stiff. As you sleep on a memory foam mattress, it does start to relax but at first you have to be okay with the firmness.
  5. Addictive: There were times during those three years that I felt like I needed that bed. 
  6. Tired: I was tired all the time and rarely (if ever) slept through the night. Tired in the day. Tired at night. 

Why the list?

My point is that I didn’t want to get rid of the bed. We’d invested in it financially. We liked it. I didn’t realize my sleep and other health issues could be caused by the bed.

So why did we want/need to get rid of a bed we loved?

After three years with that bed, I realized I’d had some issues only since buying it. Rashes, itching, extreme fatigue, sleep issues and the resulting frustration, and three consecutive miscarriages. Some or all (or none) of these issues may or may not have been caused by our memory foam mattress. I’ll never know. I do know ALL of the issues have either resolved themselves since we got rid of it, or have become significantly better. And they had only become issues DURING the time I had this bed.

“What the heck IS in our mattress?”

On our health journey we changed diet, went to doctors, changed supplements. Then we decided to research the bed. We couldn’t find quick answers on this company’s website (about what the beds are made of), so we did some research and found out that the bed releases toxins (VOCs). These are volatile organic compounds. Yes, our skin, being the largest organ of our body, was spending 7-8 hours lying on a mattress that “off-gassed” chemicals — from 60 to over 100 carcinogens. One specific memory foam mattress model was found to emit 61 chemicals, including the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene. More research found many other people have apparently had the same issues I had. We called the company, mentioned our concerns, and guess what? They couldn’t/wouldn’t tell us the contents of the mattress (“proprietary” – what?). We weren’t comfortable with that answer, so we found online that a chemist had tested the chemicals released from this famous mattress company, and had determined the following chemicals/fumes, etc. were being released from our memory foam mattress:

  1. benzene
  2. naphthalene
  3. polyurethane
  4. formaldehyde
  5. antimony trioxide (arsenic)
  6. boric acid
  7. silicon (silica glass) (not to be confused with silicone)

We decided very quickly we didn’t want to sleep on that bed anymore. The dangers of those chemicals going into our bodies. So we removed it immediately from our bedroom, and started sleeping on an air mattress. My husband called them, and within a few moments of hearing our complaint…

The Great Big Memory Foam Mattress Company immediately offered to REFUND OUR ENTIRE payment AND come pick up our mattress to get it out of our home. No, this is not an ad and I didn’t get paid to write this.

That’s a $3700 check. No questions asked. Yes, we called several attorneys, because clearly this was an indicator that they’ve been sued (and they have), but there was no way to prove my issues were directly caused by the bed. So we signed the payment agreement.

We’re now sleeping on an organic mattress, and love it. So much has cleared up. We bought a Naturepedic, but OMI Organicpedic is another great option. Both excellent companies. Hint: Look for a floor model to save some money. I also recommend using organic cotton bedding.

This article called The Mattress Matters will save you some research time, as well as this article on Oprah’s site by Laura Fraser. This article discusses some points from Walter Bader’s book called Toxic Bedrooms.

Cheers to (healthy) years!

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