written by:
photos by:
February 4, 2009
Originally published in All Together Now
as
Rest Easy

As the ill effects of many a mattress become crystal-clear, never before has the saying “You snooze, you lose” held more weight. Thankfully, there are some great options out there that will keep you healthy, perhaps a little less wealthy, but extremely well rested.

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Photo by 
matresses expert metronaps chowdhury arshad
DW0107_RPTS_01

Never did I anticipate that my job would require me to jump into bed (well, several beds) with a total stranger. But that’s what I did today. Now that I’m at home alone, typing away atop my cheap, chemically sealed 1-800-MATTRESS (why not work on it when it feels so much like a desktop?), it occurs to me that we spend more time in our beds than on any other piece of furniture, and I am wondering how I’m going to fall asleep on this particular mattress tonight … and tomorrow night … and every other night after that.

People have been sleeping on mattresses for 10,000 years or so. Five thousand years ago, Egyptians slept on heaped palm fronds. Romans stuffed mattresses with reeds, hay, wool, or feathers. Renaissance men sheathed pea shucks, straw, or feathers in velvet, brocades, and silk. During the 16th and 17th centuries, mattresses were suspended over ropes that needed regular tightening; coiled springs for mattresses weren’t patented until 1865.

Which all goes to show that throughout history, until very recently, “organic” has been a quality native to mattresses. So why not go back to organic? Organic or eco-friendly and people-friendly materials—rubber fresh from the tree, untreated wools, silk, pesticide-free flax and cotton, water-based latex—wick away moisture, guard against bedbugs, maintain an even temperature, contain no chemicals to breathe in night after night, and last noticeably longer. They are also exceedingly comfortable. Which means many more nights of healthy, resource-preserving, world-saving sleep.

Last year, Consumer Reports determined that no single bed type or brand is superior, that firmer is not necessarily better (a mattress that’s too hard may put your shoulders and hips to sleep before you), and that mattress selection is entirely subjective. Which means that we won’t presume to tell you which mattress is “best” for you, but we can offer guidance on the best options you have for getting a green night’s sleep.

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