Typical mattresses today consist of three main layers: an inner support layer, a cushioning layer above that, and a quilted top layer. Each layer is made of different materials that can affect your health. In fact, mattress materials can pose a scary range of health issues, from back problems and pain to allergies, even serious diseases. And all of these risks are multiplied through prolonged exposure because we spend one-third of our lives in bed sleeping—that’s 25 years! This is why knowing what’s inside your mattress is so critical to good health.
The best way to protect yourself is to learn the basics about mattress materials so that you can make good choices and keep you and your family sleeping safe and sound.
THE INNER CORE IS THE SUPPORT LAYER. (IT CAN EITHER REDUCE OR WORSEN BACK PAIN.)
Supporting your body weight is the primary function of any mattress. Bed manufacturers today take different approaches to this critical support layer; from steel coils (including Simmons® and Intellibed®) to foam cores (such as TempurPedic®) to air chambers (like Sleep Number®) to waterbeds. Some of these approaches are more effective than offers at providing the firm support that doctors say is best for your back and body. A lack of firm support results in spinal misalignment, a leading cause of lower back pain.
THE MIDDLE CUSHIONING LAYER RELIEVES PRESSURE. (IT CAN EITHER COMFORT YOU OR CAUSE MORNING ACHES, ALLERGIC REACTIONS, AND WORSE.)
The second layer cushions your body from the firm support layer below it. The cushion (or comfort) layer relieves pressure points that build around the heaviest and most protruding parts of your body, your hips and shoulders, as they sink deepest into your mattress. Beds with inadequate cushioning materials keep you up at night with tossing and turning as your body responds to the pressure spikes and pain. This happens on average 40 times a night, preventing us from achieving and sustaining the deep, stage 3 and 4 sleep our bodies need to stay healthy.
Mattress manufacturers use a variety of materials in their attempts to make comfortable beds. Foam is the most commonly used material, including polyurethane, latex, soy, and memory-foam. But foam is an archaic sleep technology from the 1960s. It quickly begins to sag and rapidly loses both comfort and support.
Worse yet, most all foam is synthetic and made of toxic chemicals. As a result, it can off-gas noxious fumes as it wears. For example, polyurethane foam is made from chemicals that are known carcinogens. Surprisingly, it’s buyer-beware because mattress materials are still not regulated or safety rated today.
THE QUILTED TOP LAYER IS THE SOFT USER-INTERFACE. (SOME OF THESE MATERIALS SOOTHE YOU TO SLEEP WHILE OTHERS CAN AGGRAVATE ALLERGIES OR EXPOSE YOU TO MORE TOXINS.)
The soft outermost layer of the mattress is usually made of foam and cotton. This is the layer that you’re in direct contact with when you sleep. So beware. Unless it’s organic cotton it may contain pesticides that can also off-gas harmful toxins. These can be absorbed into your body through direct contact or by inhalation. Complaints of this range from headaches and rashes to more severe health reactions in people.
Also important to know is that all mattresses are now required by law to be fire resistant. But ironically, the flame-retardant chemicals used to protect us from harm can actually harm us in other ways. For example, PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) or boric acid is a flame retardant used in many mattresses today. However, it’s been shown to have adverse health effects in animals and is so toxic that Europe is phasing it out completely.
INTELLIBED MATTRESSES ARE NATURALLY PURE AND SAFE (FOR THE HEALTHIEST SLEEP POSSIBLE).
Intellibed mattresses with Gel Matrix™ inside are the next generation in sleep technology—a healthier and higher standard in sleep wellness. They’re gently supportive and luxuriously comfortable at the same time. And they’re made of hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and non-off-gassing materials.