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Natural Beds


Natural is happening.  More and more, we are gaining a stronger appreciation for the intrinsic benefits of natural products.   The demand for wholesome and nutritious food products and natural ingredients continues to increase.  Natural food brands like Annie’s Homegrown products and Cascadian Farms cereals are no longer sideline curiosities, but front and center product lines.   The success and growth of Whole Foods Market has proven to be too powerful for even Amazon to ignore.  Natural personal care and hygiene products are on an upward trajectory as evidenced by Tom’s of Maine and Burt’s Bees.  There are now natural ingredient cosmetic lines, and Jessica Alba’s Honest Company makes sure that the ingredients in their children’s products are carefully and sustainably sourced.  Even our favorite coffee chain, Starbucks, has just moved away from plastic straws.

As we show more and more preference for natural, healthy products that we ingest and products that touch our bodies, it is a natural evolutionary step that we start thinking about other aspects of our lives that we can make more healthful.  When we consider overall wellness, what is more important than our sleep?  That of course leads to the question: What is in our beds?  What in the world are we sleeping on?  And, what is influencing air quality in our bedrooms?  (I believe indoor air quality (IAC) is fast becoming a new attention area for overall health and wellness.)

Recent History of Beds

Traditionally, mattresses have been constructed of a layer of interlocking coil springs with a layer or layers of padding on top of that, all wrapped in a fabric cover – known as innerspring mattresses.  Over time, different types of padding materials and foams have been introduced to serve as the layer(s) of comfort and support for traditional mattresses.   Innerspring beds still represent the majority of mattress sales, and are available from a wide variety of manufacturers in every possible variation of quality and price.   As with most product category pyramids, there are numerous value options at the bottom, and a select few entries at the top of the innerspring pyramid.   The most highly regarded examples of the absolute finest innerspring mattresses include beds made by Kluft and Duxiana and Hastens.  These beds are made with supreme craftsmanship and unrelenting attention to detail, using only the finest components and materials. Fittingly, the price points for these particular beds are not for the faint of heart.

Approximately 25 years ago, Tempur-pedic and Sleep Number (originally known as Select Comfort), ushered in memory foam and high-tech adjustable air mattresses respectively, to give consumers two major new bed or sleep surface options.  Both companies have been incredibly successful with their innovative product offerings, as consumers have increasingly embraced their technologies.  Both Tempur-pedic and Sleep Number have been the industry innovators over the past two decades, and have essentially become household brand names.

Fast forward to the past few years, and the bed industry has seen the emergence of the “bed-in-a-box” category.  These beds, primarily purchased online and delivered right to your doorstep rolled tightly in a box, have been the new consumer darlings. With fun names like Casper, Nectar and Leesa, they typically cost between $600 – $1,400, and offer the ultimate in convenience.   Their promise – a fun, novel product experience, innovative lightweight bed design typically using varying layers of foam, and no more driving around town to shop at mattress stores or department stores.  In just a few years, the “bed-in-a-box” products have already claimed 10-12% market share of the U.S. mattress marketplace.

The Time has Come for All-Natural Beds

Consumer preference for earth-friendly, healthful products is increasing.  There is a typical acceptance arc that takes place as we embrace new lifestyle ideals that translate into consumer products – often starting with smaller purchase price items and evolving toward larger purchase price items over time.

In recognition of the growing interest in health and wellness-conscious products, a handful of enlightened and progressive bed companies are building and offering all-natural mattresses.  Here are four bed companies that take pride in building healthful mattresses:

  • Saatva is an innovative bed company that offers three distinct lines of beds, all built with environmentally responsible materials.  The company’s ZenHaven by Saatva line is its all-natural crown jewel, made with natural Talalay process latex foam, pure wool and organic cotton.  ZenHaven beds are purchased online and delivered via “white glove” service.
  • PranaSleep has created several lines of beds, and all are designed for those who place emphasis on a wellness lifestyle.  One line in particular, the PranaSleep Organics Collection, features beds made of organic cotton, natural wool and natural Talalay process latex foam.  These beds are primarily available through select retailers.
  • Avocado Mattress company offers beds that combine coil springs with all-natural ingredients of Dunlop process latex, natural wool and organic cotton.   The Avocado Green Mattress is assembled using a caring, eco-friendly process devoid of toxic fire retardants and adhesives.  It can be purchased online.
  • Essentia creates mattresses using all-natural materials and processes.  The company uses organic Dunlop process latex foam or an innovative, patented natural memory foam material made of ingredients from the tropical rubber tree as the central building blocks of its beds.  Essentia, based in Canada, offers its products online and through a handful of its own store locations in the US.

These innovative bed companies (not listed in any particular order, not to be construed as a product review, and not all inclusive), are impressive for what they do include in their beds, and also for what they do not include in their beds.  Natural beds are typically offered at premium price points because of the higher cost of the earth-friendly ingredients used to build the beds – wool, organic cotton and natural latex foam are simply more expensive than synthetic materials, and require more care and time in assembling the components.  One particular component that is noticeably absent in all of the bed constructions listed here is petroleum-based polyurethane foam.  Polyurethane foam, typically the base ingredient for so many inexpensive, lightweight generic foams and memory foams, is well known for its strong chemical smell and out-gassing properties.

Do natural beds offer more healthy sleep?  I am not sure if any formal studies have been conducted to address this exact question, but common sense suggests the concept of non-toxic, natural ingredient beds is definitely headed in the right direction.  From an indoor air quality standpoint alone (not to mention environmental impact), natural beds certainly add a healthful dimension to a Whole Sleep, Whole You wellness approach.


Article by Jim Huffstetler    (August 8, 2018)

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