Buying a bed, it’s no easy task! Tempur-pedic, memory foam, coils and spring? What type of mattress is best? In fact it’s a bit overwhelming and impacts your life in so many more ways than you probably think. What’s really in a mattress, anyway? Have you ever woken up with puffy eyes, stuffy nose or scratchy skin? Hello bed allergens! Traditional or conventional mattresses can be a yucky breeding ground for pesky allergens and dust mites, and are usually made with harsh glues, petrochemicals, and chemically treated fabrics that don’t breathe. What about those nasty pressure points or a bed that offers little to no support? Hello, sore back and neck. Who knew mattresses could be so complicated?! A healthy, supportive bed can mean the difference between waking up with puffy eyes, stuffy nose and a sore back, versus feeling refreshed, energized and ready to take on the day.
We spend one-third of our lives in our bed. Shouldn’t we be asking questions about what's in the mattress we sleep on? For example: what is a mattress made of? Do the adhesives and glues off gas Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that create an air pollution problem in my bedroom? Prolonged exposure to VOCs are linked to serious health issues including headaches, eye, nose and throat irritations, nausea; and they trigger asthma attacks, liver, kidney and central nervous system damage and even cancer. No thank you.
And let’s not forget about the fire retardants. Do we really need them? Or are we trading one hazard for another? Education on the importance of not smoking, putting out candles before going to bed can go a long way. In July 2007, the Consumer Product Safety Commission required that any mattress sold in the United States must meet the federal safety standard for open-flame fire resistance. And what’s crazy about this, is that manufacturers are not required to divulge exactly what’s in their fire retardant formulas and are considered ‘trade secrets.’ So they don't have to tell you anything. But if you’re chemically sensitive you can get a note from your doctor to get a mattress free of fire retardant chemicals. But if you are not, how can you get a mattress that isn’t doused with suspect chemicals and materials that can make you sick? After all, how do you really know if these VOCs are wreaking havoc on your insides until it’s too late? It’s up to us as empowered consumers to ask questions and hunt down safe alternatives.
After rotating our mattress faithfully for ten years to keep it in tip top shape, about two years ago, the bed my husband and I sleep on started sinking in the spots we sleep. So, essentially, we now had two divots (or you might call them potholes) in our bed with a nice speed bump between us. Cozy! I toss and turn, waking up at two, three, four in the morning trying to get comfortable with little success. It’s time for a new bed!
Generally speaking I like a soft yet firm mattress that provides support for my back and neck issues, which can be a tough find. I also want to feel like I’m being cradled by a soft cloud (sounds kind of silly but hey, I love to imagine it). I’m also a back sleeper. My chiropractor told me to stop sleeping on my stomach because of a herniated disc and sciatica (and it has helped!). Sometimes I sleep on my side, but not for long because my shoulders get sore and then I roll over on my back and the tossing and turning begins.
Because traditional pillow top and memory foam mattresses are full of toxic chemicals (glues, formaldehyde, adhesives, VOCs), that continuously off gas, I knew I couldn't go that route. And I knew I didn't want anything with springs that create uncomfortable, and even painful, pressure points. I had to find an alternative. I live in Los Angeles, and Essentia has a mattress store in Santa Monica, so my hubby and I headed over to give their mattresses a test drive.
Essentia makes the world's only natural memory foam mattress. Their mattresses are hypoallergenic (and dust mite deterrent), made from sustainable, non-toxic materials like hevea milk (rubber tree sap), natural latex, unbleached organic cotton, essential oils, natural plant extracts, and they don't have a spring in them. Pretty awesome. But will their mattresses live up to the hype?
At the store, we spoke with their nice salesman (who was so no pressure and super relaxed, which made us feel comfortable and at ease). Essentia has seven different mattress models to choose from. Because of my low back and neck issues, we were able to narrow it down to four choices, the Classic 8, Energie Opus, Beausommet and the Dormeuse. We laid on each bed for five to ten minutes. First on our backs, then on our side and even tested what it felt like when one of us got in and of bed. We are tall people, at 5,10" (me) and 6, 3" (my hubby), so we usually feel something when one of us gets in or out, but how much exactly, we wanted to know.
There are a few features that all of Essentia's mattresses have that are standard across the line. Their soft organic cotton covers and plush natural memory foam give each mattress a luxurious, pillowy feel (I'm not going to miss my pillow top mattress!) and are soft to the touch. Each one is covered with their exclusive, Zebrano unbleached, organic cover. The Classic 8 is super comfy, but I needed more support. The Energie Opus delivered more plushy support, but not quite enough. The Beausommet was definitely firmer, but it felt like the bed was pushing me away. I want to feel cradled; not for me.
The Dormeuse, ahhhh, it's soft and comfy, yet firm with a luxurious sensation that makes me feel like I'm being delicately cradled. My back, neck and body get the support they need (distributed evenly) without any pressure points. I can easily turn from my back to my side without feeling like I'm stuck or falling into quicksand. And the mattress is quick to recover. I lay on my side for a good five minutes and no shoulder pain. I'm liking it!
My husband is a side sleeper and the Dormeuse is comfortable enough that he can sleep on his back. He loves the firm, yet soft, luxurious support too. Each of us separately, get in and out of bed. No major earthquakes! In fact I can barely feel his movement. This is the one.
From the Organic Authority Files
After our visit, I further investigated how Essentia makes their mattresses and I uncovered some pretty cool stuff about the company. Essentia doesn't outsource to an unknown supplier somewhere in the world. They develop and manufacture their own components that make up their products at home in Canada. They also manufacture and distribute Essentia products from one location, which reduces transportation fuel consumption. Their fire retardant solution? They wrap all of their mattresses Kevlar fabric.
The Zebrano fabric which covers all of Essentia’s mattresses is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified by ECEA Bologna Italy (and so are all of their organic cotton sheets). They use only GreenGuard certified, solvent-free adhesives by Simalfa. They are GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified® and GREENGUARD Children & School Certified (this certification helps manufacturers and buyers identify low chemical emission interior products which improves indoor air quality).
Essentia is one of two companies in North America that manufacture their own foam in North America (the other is Tempur-Pedic). Other mattress companies buy foam from one of the 15+ memory foam manufacturers from around the world including China, the U.S., and Europe.
And what about the other companies that are making 'eco' claims? Most eco memory foam mattresses still contain petrochemicals with a small percentage of the ingredients being ‘eco-friendly. Not for me.
I liked Essentia's transparency and known supply chain, so we placed our order.
Our first night on our new Dormeuse was truly heavenly. My husband and I both slept soundly, no uncomfortable tossing and turning, no sore shoulders, and the support and coziness was truly heavenly. My morning congestion? Gone. So nice to wake up allergy free. Our two dogs, Truffle and Bamboo, loved it too. They cozied up in the middle of the night and I didn't feel a thing. We woke up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Generally speaking, Essentia's mattresses do carry a higher price point. But I have a feeling this mattress will last us longer than our last mattress at just ten years. Essentia's mattresses come with a 20 year warranty and 60 day guarantee. They also offer in partnership with Wells Fargo, 18 month interest free financing (United States only) and free delivery in the United States and Canada.
I'm a firm believer in product quality and the health value a product has to offer over what's the cheapest, greatest deal on the market. With Essentia's mattress, I'm confident we'll have this longer than ten years, and I know I can sleep soundly without breathing in toxic chemicals and VOCs that have been linked to cancer and more. Now, I can really sleep like a baby.
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