Dream Green: Mattress Shopping
I’ve been mattress shopping. It’s not easy or fun. Mattresses fall into the category of "who ya gonna believe?" —right up there with cars, appliances and other purchases that are salesperson dependant. Mattress salespeople use phrases like, "proper body balance" and "optimum pressure relief." Then there’s the matter of actually lying down on eight different models and evaluating the infinitesimal differences that are going to make me happily comfortable or miserably discontent for the next decade. It’s enough to make my back ache.
The first decision was easy—go organic for the healthiest possible mattress. But which one? Though the variations are endless, all mattresses share common features. They are layered, beginning with the core, which may be latex or other foams, or innersprings followed by more foam, latex, wool, or cotton felt padding, and topped with a fabric to hold it all together.
Organic means that the mattress will be free of chemicals, pesticides, and dyes. The pure wool layer acts as a natural flame retardant. Both it and the cotton felt upholstery ventilate body heat and help ensure a consistent, lump-free surface. I’ve learned to avoid mattresses with polyurethane foam padding, which can deteriorate and contribute to allergic reactions in chemically sensitive people.
Latex, a natural product harvested from the rubber tree, is a component of almost every mattress. Talalay latex, used in better quality mattresses, has been processed according to a protocol that yields a consistent product. There’s a good description of it here. The Talalay process can be used for both natural and synthetic latexes.