What comes to mind when you think of memory foam? Probably words like “comfort” or “dreamy” right? That’s exactly how we felt at a showroom in Austin, TX ten years ago. We were trying out the king-of-memory foam brands, and they had us sold.
We dropped nearly $3700 on that mattress and box spring set! Oh my. Such a big purchase. I’d never even owned a new bed before, so this was an exciting experience.
Our memory foam mattress was a little stiff at first, but then felt wonderful. Some chemical smells too, but those seemed to dissipate. The bed turned out to be so comfortable… almost addictive!
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.
On our health journey we changed diet, went to doctors, changed supplements. But we hadn’t really thought about our bed. One day, we heard something about memory foam being toxic.
We did brief research and were scared so much we literally slept on the living room floor that night! We read 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.
My husband, Kyler, decided to call the manufacturer of the mattress and get straight to the point. And this is where things got a little strange…
He got a rep at the company who was a grandmother. Claimed her family all used this brand of mattress. So Kyler simply asked her what the mattresses were made of. She said they’re not even allowed to know. Wait… what? Then how are you okay with your family sleeping on them? Kyler actually didn’t ask that. It was kinda obvious.
Kyler then proceeded to tell her we’d heard/read some scary stuff. She resisted until he mentioned we’d been to the doctor for my health issues, tried everything they said and didn’t have any relief. When the woman heard those words everything changed…
The rep said she’d send a document over to sign. The doc stated that we could never sue them for any medical condition. Weird. We ran it by an attorney who was also surprised. He was like, “Do you have cancer or anything serious?”
Since we weren’t dying, we signed the agreement. The company then came and picked up the mattress, and gave us a check for $3700. Crazy!
A common argument you may hear with memory foam and/or foam related beds and furniture products is this: “The VOCs aren’t bad because the off-gassing is done after a day or two.” Unfortunately, the initial off-gassing is the least of your worries.
Why? Foam deteriorates with use. Even commercial grade foam. When that happens, small particles laden with chemicals are released into the air. Some of these chemicals will end up in your lungs (for starters) and it can take up to 7 years for them to go away.
An organic mattress is what we decided on. Specifically, organic latex. And keep in mind, there’s a drastic difference between organic latex and chemical laden latex used in things like dish washing gloves.
With better stress point relief and no toxic chemicals, you can’t lose with organic latex.
Organic latex is pure, from rubber trees. It’s better at relieving pressure points than memory foam. It’s naturally resistant to mold and dust mites. And best of all, it doesn’t harm your body! We’ve been sleeping on one for 7 years and LOVE it.
We’ve used two different brands of organic latex mattress, but owned by the same parent company. The company name is Lifekind®. They make online only mattresses and then showroom mattresses under the name of OMI®. We currently use an OMI Organicpedic™ but also have another we really like from Lifekind called The Trio™. You can read more about them on their respective sites:
I hope this helps you on your path to healthier sleep! Remember, your skin is your largest organ. Don’t underestimate what you breath and absorb while sleeping each night. Here’s to pleasant, healthy dreams!