Memory Foam Off-Gassing and Your Health

As memory foam beds gain in popularity and market share, off-gassing has become a major part of the conversation.  No one wants to cut off their nose to spite their face, and you don’t want to breathe in harmful chemicals to get better support for your back.  I try to pay attention to what I put in and on my body, and can not ignore what’s being said on the internet about my beloved memory foam.  Read on to find out whether you should re-think your memory foam mattress.

What is Memory Foam Off-Gassing?

Memory Foam Off-Gassing

Photo Credit: Brian Fitzgerald

“Off-gassing” is a term for the chemical odor that can sometimes accompany your new memory foam mattress.  Everything naturally gives off a scent, from your neighbor to your apple for lunch, to your new carpet.  The particular scent that most people associate with off-gassing of a memory foam mattress is related to the VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) that are sometimes used in the manufacturing process.  Most of these chemicals are rendered inert (inactive) after the product is formulated, but their smell can remain.

Is Off-Gassing Dangerous?

To be perfectly honest, most of the dangerous chemicals that were used have been phased out in the US and the UK.  These are PBDEs, which include formaldehyde and CFCs.  Reactions to these and other chemicals found in memory foam mattresses can include headache, eye and nose irritation, nausea, or respiratory problems.  These symptoms always abate as the scent from the mattress dissipates.  According to the EPA, finished foams used in bedding do not present a health hazard.

How to Avoid Off-Gassing

There are a few ways to avoid the memory foam off-gassing issue entirely:

  1. Purchase a latex mattress instead of a memory foam mattress.  You’ll get similar support, the same durability, great pressure relief, and if you buy natural latex, no off-gassing.
  2. Ask the store to air out the mattress before it is delivered, or air it out yourself once it arrives.  Unwrap the mattress and place it in a closed room with windows open.  Within seventy-two hours, the smell should be gone.
  3. Buy a mattress that carries the CertiPUR-US seal.  CertiPUR-US tests all the materials in the mattress for VOCs, PBDEs, carcinogens, CFCs, formaldehyde, and other toxic materials.  Good options are Simmons CURV, and Comforpedic by Beautyrest.

My Opinion on Memory Foam Off-Gassing

Since I can’t make it all the way through a post without throwing my two cents in, here it goes: I am not worried about the off-gassing from my memory foam mattress.  Sure, I am concerned about chemicals in my everyday life, but I feel like my memory foam bed is really far down on my list.  We use lotions and soaps every day with a bunch of ingredients that we can’t even pronounce.  We eat foods that have a bunch of chemical flavorings.  I breathe in exhaust from cars, second-hand cigarette smoke, and ahem, methane from my husband.  Even with how sensitive my skin and allergies are, I have never had a reaction to my memory foam bed.  I put a mattress protector on it, and ta-da, no smell.

Source Credit: orangefan_2011 (flickr)

Source Credit: orangefan_2011 (flickr)

In all honesty, I think that memory foam off-gassing is a trumped up issue.  It’s the SAME smell as “new car scent”, which we are always trying to replicate with air fresheners.  That new couch that you bought will have the same smell also.  And don’t even get me started on the yucky chemicals that are in your carpet that no one even thinks about.

The end result is that the government believes that memory foam beds are not toxic.  Many companies, such as Comforpedic, have made huge efforts to make their mattresses healthy and scent-free.  Air it out and put an Encase Mattress Protector on it, and rest your body on a conforming, pressure relieving, comfortable memory foam mattress.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Check out this great info on sleep apnea – it’s a dangerous condition that you might not even know you have!  If you do, there are some things that can help you, like a CPAP machine, or an adjustable bed!

To put it in the simplest terms, sleep apnea is a condition wherein the sufferer experiences instances of shallow breathing, pauses in breathing, or even infrequent breathing during their sleep. Every pause is referred to as an “apnea,” and they can last around ten seconds in length or even a few minutes before the individual starts to breathe again. Studies see apneas occurring as frequently as five to thirty times in a single hour.

There are three different types of sleep apnea: central, obstructive, and complex. Central sleep apnea refers to a lack of respiratory effort, and accounts for less than one percent of all sleep apnea sufferers. Obstructive refers to physical blockage, often resulting in snoring, and accounts for around 84% of all sleep apnea. Complex is a mix of the two, accounting for around 15% of all sleep apnea.

Because others typically observe sleep apnea during the sufferer’s sleep, many who live with sleep apnea may go years, decades, or lifetime without even knowing that they suffer from the condition.

To someone who isn’t familiar with the condition, it might not sound like much of a problem at all, but the effects of the condition can be quite serious. Frequently, poor breathing during sleep can result in restless nights and general lethargy during the day. Slightly less common, but not entirely atypical, sleep apnea sufferers may wake up in sleep paralysis, the paralysis that your body undergoes during deep sleep in order to keep you from harming yourself during the night. Those who have regular experiences of waking up during sleep paralysis may even grow to fear sleep and develop insomnia.

Long-term effects of sleep apnea can include memory loss and poor focus. In other words, sleep apnea is taxing on the brain.

Treatment can include medication, devices to assist in breathing such as CPAP masks, and even surgery for extreme cases.

Many who suffer mild sleep apnea may choose simply to live with it, but getting proper treatment can be an effortless, painless process. That said, the condition affects different people to different degrees, and the treatment that is right for one may not be for another.

 

About CPAP2Me:

CPAP2Me.com is a dedicated website where individuals can go to purchase CPAP machines, CPAP masks and other sleep apnea supplies at guaranteed low prices. CPAP2Me is committed to providing you with quality service without compromising affordability. Our staff is made up of respiratory therapists and industry experts with nearly 40 years of collective experience who are available to help you in any way possible.

A Latex Mattress Can Help You Go Green

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Nowadays, there is so much emphasis on going “green” and returning to more natural ways of living.  I’ll admit, it’s important to me too, and I buy organic produce and meats, prefer real sugar to sweeteners, and dress in all natural fibers like cotton and wool.  We don’t use chemical cleaners in our home in favor of vinegar and citrus, and we’re looking into purchasing a hybrid vehicle.  Usually, all this natural stuff can be significantly more expensive than the traditional man-made items.  Do you need to spend $5,000 on a specially made organic mattress?  Not when you can get a great latex mattress for less than you think.

Organic BedsWhether it’s an allergy issue, product sensitivities, or you just like the idea of knowing what is in your home and on your body, the next step to purifying your life might just be your mattress.  It can be hard (and ridiculously expensive) to go out and find an all organic mattress (and they might not be too comfortable either).  While we don’t have an all cotton or all wool mattress, we do have choices that can be healthier for the environment, as well as healthier for you.  Check it out:

  • We have a variety of latex mattresses from Nature’s Way and King Koil Contour Response.  These mattresses have no coils, they have a base foam instead, with layers of latex atop that base foam to add support and comfort.
  • Within the King Koil Contour Response Collection, the Opulent and the Essence are all latex.  They have a 7″ Dunlop (man-made) latex core, with Talalay (natural, as in Latex Mattressfrom the tree) latex padding layers.  The Glorious, Harmonious, and Lavish have the same Dunlop core and Talalay padding, but they also have memory foam padding layers also, which is a man-made polyurethane foam.
  • Some of our mattresses, such as the Renaissance Euro Box Top, have bamboo covers.  Bamboo is soft, resilient, breathable, and renewable.
  • If you don’t mind man-made, but don’t want all the toxic chemicals, Comforpedic may be your brand.  Their entire line-up of memory foam beds are CertiPUR-US certified, which indicates that there are no toxic or questionable materials within their mattresses.  They are also great because they last for so long (they have 25-year warranties), you won’t have to replace (and throw out) the mattress for almost twice as long as a regular bed.
  • Concerned about polyurethane foams?  There may be some off-gassing, it’s just part of the process.  However, King Koil’s Everlast foam (which is in almost all of their beds) is 58% soy based, so it’s a more natural polyurethane than is offered by other brands.

There are many options to try to rid your life of unhealthy chemicals and processes, and more are coming out every day.  We will keep you updated as we get new “green” beds in.

Sleep, Your Mattress, and Weight Loss

Did you know that your mattress can be sabotaging your diet?!?

It’s the end of January, and for many of us, that New Year’s Resolution is starting to wear off.  If you purchased a gym membership, watched what you ate, and haven’t seen a change on the scale, don’t fret.  It may be your mattress.

People who sleep less than the recommended 7-8 hours per night may be doing more harm to their body than they realize.  It’s more complex than just not having enough energy to workout.  Only getting 5-6 hours can elevate your stress hormones.  High stress hormones can make you hungrier, and crave carbs and sugar.  It also decreases your level of growth hormone, so it’s harder for your body to burn fat and repair your muscles after a workout.  Finally, the hormone ghrelin is increased, which elevates hunger and makes you likely to store fat.

So what do you do?  First, take a look at why you’re not sleeping enough.  Are you making sleep a priority, or are you being stretched too thin in other aspects of your life?  Do you have the same ritual every night before you go to bed, and are you taking time to relax your mind before retiring to bed?  Could it be that you’re not comfortable?

There could be many reasons why you aren’t comfortable at night, even if your mattress is relatively new.  If you can’t stretch out, or wake up when your partner is tossing and turning, then you might want to try a larger size, or a bed that has individually pocketed coils, like a Beautyrest.  Is your bed too soft or too firm?  By changing your body shape (losing or gaining weight), your support needs from your mattress are also changing.  What was comfortable a year ago might not be comfortable now, since your body has changed.  Also, if you are exercising, you might have aches and pains that you haven’t felt before.  Try a King Koil for some extra back support, or a memory foam bed to reduce the pressure on your achy joints.

Once you start sleeping better, your body will respond quicker to your exercising and dieting efforts.  You will feel energized, in control of your appetite, and ready to reach that fitness goal!