The national sleep average is right around 8 hours per night, which means that you're probably pretty close to that number. That's 1/3 of your life in bed. A lot of people don't often realize that the mattress they spend 1/3 of their time lying on top of is actually made of stuff.
Well, as it turns out, mattresses can be made of a lot of different things. Here's a list of the most common materials you will find in today's mattresses.
- Polyfoam/Quiltflex: This material is most commonly used as the "comfort" layer in the top of the mattress, or as a the firm core inside the mattress (if it is an all-foam mattress). Polyurethane foam is a synthetic foam that you can find nearly everywhere, from car seats to furniture, to even footwear. Although polyfoam has come a long way, and can now be found using a plant base, it is far from being organic or non-toxic.
- Memory Foam: Memory foam is polyurethane with the addition of chemicals that increase its viscosity and density. This is why it "sinks" when you lay on it and then bounces back. Without these properties, it would just be foam. While many people love the comfort feel of memory foam, it often breaks down quickly and retains a lot of body heat.
- Springs: Springs (or coil systems) make up the core of the majority of beds out there today, and there are many different options, including continuous coil, to pocket coil, to zoned coils. Each offers a different sleeping and support experience.
- A continuous coil is the least expensive, and the most common.
- Pocket coils are individually wrapped and operate independently, providing support to your whole body, regardless of your body shape, type, or weight. They also cut down on motion, so if your bed partner moves, you won't feel it the same way you would with a continuous coil system.
- Zoned coils are found in a pocket coil option, but different areas (or "zones") of the bed have a higher coil count to provide further support.
- Latex: With a little bit of research, you will find that there are a lot of different latex options out there, including blended latex, natural latex (which contains synthetic materials), and certified organic rubber. Some mattresses contain a combination of these types of latex. (Our OMI beds are manufactured with certified organic Dunlop and certified organic high-density latex.) Latex is known for it's springy, supportive feel and is temperature neutral.
- Wool: Wool can be found in the comfort layer in the top of some mattresses. It helps regulate body temperature by whisking moisture away and keeping you and your sleeping area dry. Some mattress manufacturers use combinations of wool and other fibers and materials. Our OMI mattresses use certified organic wool for comfort and as a fire retardant (wool won't light on fire).
- Cotton: Most fabrics that cover mattresses are a form of cotton (referred to as "ticking"). Cotton can also be used as a comfort layer in a mattress. Cotton, like wool, helps to regulate body temperature and whisk moisture away, allowing you to sleep more comfortably. Our OMI beds use 100% certified organic cotton ticking.
- Polyester Fill: This is probably the most common raw material used in the comfort layer of mattresses. It is soft, fluffy, and inexpensive. Polyester fill is composed of tiny synthetic fibers, woven together to create the comfort layer.
- Fire Retardants: If you are worried about volatile organic compounds (VOCs), then watch out for which fire retardants that are used in a mattress (or furniture, for that matter). Often, fire retardancy is achieved with a spray that contains many toxins.
- Gel: The key component of our INTELLIbed mattresses is a Gel Matrix compound. Made from food-grade mineral oil, this gel is entirely non-toxic, anti-microbial, and one of the longest lasting materials on the market.
So now you know some of the things you might find in your mattress. The next time you go to buy a bed, you will know what kinds of questions to ask in order to determine the exact makeup of your mattress. Some mattress components are not as healthy as others, so ask the hard questions. Ask to see certifications.
8 hours a night is a lot of time. Make sure you're spending it with the best and healthiest materials.