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More mattress infographics

Ok – can’t help myself – one more infographic to add to the collection. When we originally put together our report on adjustable beds infographics were not so prolific on the internet. So we’ll be compiling and producing one in the next few months. In the meantime, here you go:
an infographic displaying mattress types and facts

Meditation as a Sleep Aid?

I’ve come to a place where sleeping through the night happens when it happens.  Some nights, I’m fortunate enough to sleep-through naturally, no aids. Other nights I choose from an arsenal of sleep aids—“Hmmm…,” I ask, “which one of you will assist me in drifting back to sleep tonight?”

Just to clarify, I’ve dealt with insomnia for more than 20 years. Trazadone, Ambien, hot milk, late night talk shows, white noise, and just plain tossing and turning are some of the things I’ve done to attempt to sleep. Some things work better than others so I’m alway skeptical about suggestions from others. My trial with meditation came from reading Thich Nhat Hanh and trying  his suggestion to meditate a little everyday.

So back to my arsenol of sleep aids. Adding the act of quieting my mind through meditation has helped immensely.  I simply focus on my breathing, as is the key in meditation. I say to myself, “breathing in, breathing out,” and of course focus my attention as I say these focal phrases on actually breathing in and then breathing out – and so far, it’s been surprisingly effective. Should a bout of insomnia attack, I am now able to get myself back to sleep about 2/3 of the time through meditation.

Imagining the air flowing into and out of your nostrils can also be helpful.  If I start to think about something else, I simply go back to, “breathing in, breathing out.” It can be helpful to take some very deep breaths at first, especially if you find yourself more wired than tired. Give it a try next time you can’t sleep. The more you practise, the better it works.

If you are recent to the world of insomnia its a good idea to take a look at ‘natural’ (as opposed to drug induced) ways to get back to sleep. I’ve included a link to Paul McKenna’s book: ” I Can Make You Sleep” because it gets a 4-plus star rating on Amazon from the customers who’ve tried it.  If the reviews don’t sound convincing there are plenty of other books on Amazon, something that sure to fit your style.

Are Organic Mattresses Truly Chemical Free?

Back in October, 2011, we received quite a lengthy and detailed response from Dr L A Stiglich to our ‘How do I Trust that my Mattress is Organic’ posting noting that:

“While wool would pass the old cigarette test for mattresses, it will not pass the new open flame test. These mattresses either use chemically treaded wool, another chemical system, or rely on chemically treated cotton batting (Boric Acid and Antimony) to pass the open flame test. According to a sizeable amount of research data collected during a pre-bedding purchase, there are no natural, chemical free, or nontoxic systems that pass the severe open flame test. Even what they call “inherently fire resistant” fibers contain chemicals in the fiber itself. There are no labeling requirements for the FR chemicals in mattresses. Thus, most mattress manufacturers deny using chemicals. It is unfortunate that even “Organic” mattress makers often claim to use no chemicals .” You can read the entire comment on the ‘How do I trust…’ post

In the recent Lifekind (Holiday, 2011) catalog, we see the F A Qs answer to the question:

‘Do Lifekind mattresses meet federal flammability standards?’ with the response:

Yes, primarily because organic wool is a natural fire retardant. In 2008, we proved to the U.S. Product Safety Commission that a mattress could be made without fire-retardant chemicals and still pass all federal and state standards.

Not much detail but perhaps they feel that the use of borates and phosphates (if that’s what they use, since no details are given) is far superior to the previously used PBDE fire retardants. We’ll continue to explore the question of the ‘chemical free’ aspect to organic mattresses and we invite further response. In the meantime we’ll be getting our chemistry degrees so we can sort out some of the current information on the internet.

 

Adjustable Beds on a Budget

For those looking to buy an adjustable bed frame on a tight budget you may want to consider Costco. I saw one in the San Francisco Store the other day but didn’t get far in my review. As part of my review I wanted to include a photo, which caused consternation with a store employee who stormed by me and said in a cranky disciplinarian tone: “No taking photos in the store!” Here I may digress a little from writing about the adjustable bed in the store, but what is so secretive about Costco that you can’t take a picture? I understand the policy as it relates to something like Burning Man where privacy from cell phone cameras makes sense but not at a big box store where you could be in any city in the USA or another country. So back to the bed it was a queen-sized memory foam for $1499 on a Carrie poster bed for $1199, apparently all are available on costcodotcom. Oh yeah, and there is one pic.

What’s all the Fuss with Tempurpedic Ergo System?

My curiosity peaked after seeing 2 months of Tempurpedic TV Commercials featuring happy customers giving their high-rated testimonials to the camera. I realized I needed to check this mattress out. Brookstone carries Tempurpedic in store so I decided to venture off to their Corte Madera location and test their adjustable bed, the Ergo System.  FYI: Whatever you do, don’t call it an adjustable bed; no one seems to know what that is.

Roz is freaking out from the noise

I was also hoping that this trial, besides giving me a chance to work the remote, would allow me time to put my feet up and get a nice massage, breaking up a busy day and week.  No such luck. My dog was with me in the store, and as soon as I activated the massage feature, it was so loud that my dog freaked out. The first thing I tried was a mini massage for my legs and back. I was hoping for relaxing… but it was more in line with disturbing. I think it was mainly due to the fact that it was so loud, something the sales associate agreed with me about. What came to mind was a bad rollercoaster ride, one where you can’t wait to get off.

Luckily things went smoothly from there. I used the remote (wireless) to raise my head and imaged a nice flat screen TV at the foot of my bed. There was one touch on the remote to lower the bed, plus memory buttons to store your favorite mattress positions (up to four) and the bed frame changing positions was nice and quiet. All in all using the remote was as straight forward as advertised with its ‘simple and easy to use buttons’. Not surprisingly the mattress, The Cloud Supreme, was the real star here, over the adjusting frame. When it comes to comfort, I like the way memory foam contours all the body parts. But, I don’t like that it’s made using lots of potentially dangerous chemicals. I’ve read a lot of reviews of this mattress from new owners and they will often note that they barely have to move on this mattress it conforms so well to your body.

Now that's a remote!

Even though this particular mattress, which in queen size retails for $3000, is appealing, I found it to be too soft.  The firmest in this line is the Deluxe Cloud, which in queen size retails for $2500.  A queen size Ergo System frame sells for $1700. Prices, like these are set by the company so they don’t differ from store to store.

Insomnia: When you’ll do anything for a night’s sleep

zolpidem, an ambiem knockoff
I was having dinner with some friends a few months back and was shocked to learn how different people handle their drive to sleep. Others did not hesitate to take Ambien, Trazadone or even Benedryl should it look to be another night of tossing and turning. I have my own sleep strategies mind you, and have been through tough times- years in length – where lack of sleep infected my daily existence. I’ve also had years following that time period where thanks to a prescription sleep drug I slept like a baby.

Here is the definition of insomnia courtesy of the Mayo Clinic:Chronic insomnia is defined when you have problems falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or experience nonrestorative sleep that occurs on a regular or frequent basis, often for no apparent reason.”

How many people in the US suffer from this condition? There are about 60 million of us.

Why does it happen? Most people I know who have trouble sleeping are dealing with additional stress and anxiety in their life. Add some bad ‘sleep hygiene’ such as coffee late in the day, a big meal right before bed, using one’s bed for work and so on and the recipe for laying awake all night is complete. Then when you add in the ‘frequent basis’ part, you can see why everyone is amiable to a sleep medication. Sure, as a doctor once said me, no one ever died from lack of sleep but what she didn’t mention is that you can lose your mind.

With the help of Trazadone (daily) I slept great for five years. No one needed to tell me that I was reliant on this drug. And then one day, out of the blue I thought – time to get off of this stuff. The timing seemed right for this adventure. I was experiencing a prolonged natural high from the purchase of my first home, work was going well – in short there wasn’t anything at that moment to keep me awake at night. And, worst case scenario, I’d be out some sleep and return to the Trazadone.

Fortunately, with the help of a Chinese herbalist the challenge did work out though I had no idea of the emotional toll it would take. Twice each day for 2 weeks I brewed some smelly herbs in a large pot of boiling water and drank up. My herbalist said that I should avoid taking Trazadone, plus the herbs seemed to be working. Unfortunately there were some side effects to go through since Trazadone is a mild antidepressant. In the end I was able to get off the daily drug use and when insomnia rears its ugly head and threatens to stay awhile I combat it with an Ambien (apparently a very addictive sleep medication so I use it sparingly).

I know that stress and anxiety are the main cause of my insomnia. Recently, however, with all the research I’ve been doing on organic mattresses, I’ve started to wonder if my conventional, chemical laden mattress is playing any part in my inability to sleep through the night.

New Baby: How to Make a Nursery that Breathes Clean and Safer Air

Is your nursery safe?
It’s hard to imagine that a nicely decorated nursery with freshly painted walls, new carpet, crib, changing table and some other light furnishings could be anything but safe for your baby. But it can. Most people don’t realize that the finishes, glues and stains used to make most furniture are full of volatile organic compounds, VOCs. Traditional paints, mattresses, blinds, carpets are as well. If you aren’t familiar with VOCs you can learn more here. But essentially, these compounds get emitted as gases from certain liquids and solids. According to the book Green Guide, “certain VOCs such as formaldehyde and benzene, can trigger respiratory, allergic and neurological reactions.” For a baby with a developing immune system these chemicals can be even more dangerous.

What to Do?

Start by shopping for safer alternatives like those that minimize indoor air pollution. Instead of buying traditional paint pick up low-VOC paints; Benjamin Moore makes a line and so does Sherman Williams.

For carpets, many experts recommend staying away from wall to wall conventional carpeting because it’s made with a heap of off-gassing chemicals. An area rug for the nursery tends to be a better choice. You can also look for carpet labeled – low emitting.

For curtains, look for those that are made with natural fibers like cotton, linen, wool and silk. Avoid synthetic fibered curtains which tend to be loaded with flame retardants and chemicals.

Also, take a look at Greenguard.com. This is a third party certifying agent that certifies low emitting products and materials. They offer a free product guide on their website and you can find a lot of good low emitting (Greenguard certified) products here.

As far as the crib and mattress goes, you can do your budget a favor by buying vintage or picking up and/or passing along crib bedding to friends or family members. This is a more environmentally friendly practice too. By buying a vintage crib, it’s been around years so it’s probably finished off gassing.

If you want to buy a new crib, The Everything Green Baby Book recommends “staying away from cheap furniture, which typically contains formaldehyde and high-VOC particle board.” Instead look for a solid wood crib with a water-based wood finish. Regarding a mattress, buying an organic baby mattress is the best way to go.

Get this Chemical Mattress Out of Here!

My journey from chemical to organic, in search of healthier sleeping nights

The countdown for getting rid of my 10-year old Sealy Posturepedic mattress has begun. In its’ place, I am looking for a natural mattress substitute; one that is made only with raw certified organic components like cotton and wool and natural rubber latex. For fire proofing – which is required for every mattress sold in the USA, I’ll only consider wool, not chemical fire retardants or a trademarked substitute that the manufacturer sells me as “eco” or “green.”

An unwanted mattress heads to the landfill

One of the easiest parts of this project is that I don’t need to be a chemist to buy an organic mattress. Thank goodness because I can only imagine what kind of toxic soup is brewing inside of my Sealy and how many nasty chemicals are looming within. The mattress gets an “A” for comfort, but for health, I would say it fails miserably.

 

I say to myself – “If I knew then what I know now I would never have bought my Sealy.” But who knew? I certainly didn’t. I’ve never had any bad reactions to my mattress off gassing and I’m not chemically sensitive, so the topic never came up. But, just like I’ve never gotten sick eating conventionally grown food, I largely buy organic because I believe in a healthy lifestyle.

One of the points I want to mention here is that organic food has become much more accessible. I believe Walmart sells organic produce. When I bought my mattress more than a decade ago, the internet wasn’t as evolved, and there were few manufacturers making organic mattresses in the United States. More is happening now.

Now there are many organic mattress manufacturers

Numerous are assemblers, which means that they purchase completed components from various sources; while others (though far fewer) are top to bottom manufacturers, which means that they complete all manufacturing – sewing, quilting and cutting – in house.

However, how quickly can you call one up in your mind? You probably can’t! Not the same story when it comes to manufacturers like Tempurpedic, Serta and Sealy. Most of us have strong brand awareness of these companies; these are some of the key players in the conventional mattress industry.

Please check back soon to learn more about the top organic mattress manufacturers. We will focus on manufacturers located in Canada and the United States.

Regards,

Nicole

Dialed In: Know the Best Bedding for your Baby

Parents are fast taking the approach that baby proofing their home also includes creating a nursery free of toxic chemicals. The hazards of chemical exposure to newborns whose immune systems are developing, is especially dangerous. According to: Healthy Child, Whole Child, written by authors Stuart H. Ditchek, M.D., and Russell H. Greenfield, M.D., “pound for pound, children take in more air, more food, and more water – and whatever contaminants they contain – than do adults.”

So it makes sense to protect your baby from unnecessary exposures. With regards to a sleep surface, a traditional crib mattress sounds like a harmless product. But unfortunately, most conventional crib mattresses are made of petrochemicals that off gas. What lies inside the mattress to give it its firmness, padding and covering is largely a chemical creation. There are also chemical fire retardants within.

Best thing to do is to avoid a conventional baby mattress altogether and buy one that is organic. I know that some people find this concept strange… maybe even pretentious. However, in your search for a baby mattress, looking for “organic” will weed out the conventional crib mattresses on the market. To learn more about this topic, we suggest reading our guide to organic crib mattresses.

Also, note that there is a big difference between the materials used in a conventional baby mattress compared to one that is organic. Not to throw the word “organic” around too loosely… what I am referring to specifically is a crib mattress that is made with only a few raw materials: organic wool, organic cotton, 100% natural latex, and or innerspring. To meet federal and state flammability laws, all mattresses sold in the United States must use a fire retardant. In an “organic” mattress wool acts as a natural fire retardant.

In an upcoming blog post I will include a list of organic crib mattress manufacturers with details and descriptions for your use.

Regards,
Nicole