The new nirvana in personal wellness: your mattress

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You work out at the gym, practice mindfulness, eat healthy foods, and choose non-toxic cleansers at the grocery store. What are you doing for your well-being when you go to bed?

Often, we give too little attention to the critical one-third of our lives we spend sleeping, and studies prove that those hours may well be the most important part of our wellness routines.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends adults sleep at least seven hours per night, but more than a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep.[1] Sleeping fewer than seven hours a night places you at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, mental distress, and other problems. You’re also more likely to make mistakes or errors, have a traffic accident, or work less productively.

The sound sleep necessary for good health can be compromised by many factors, including lighting, mattress quality, bed time, mental state, and ambient noise. If you’re not getting your optimum amount of sleep, first take a look at your mattress, which can easily make or break your sleep quality.

Although many people still believe that they should sleep on a “firm” mattress, the term is actually a holdover from decades ago, when choices of bedding were extremely limited. Thanks to advances in technology and sophisticated engineering, mattresses can now have a comfortable and soft top layer and still be highly supportive. What’s more, firmness is subjective. One person’s firm might be another person’s medium-firm or soft. That’s why it’s a good idea to try before you buy.

Besides comfort, the bedding you bring into your home can affect indoor air quality. When we think of air pollutants, we think of smokestacks, car exhausts, and outdoor environmental issues, but there are many potential dangers lurking inside the four walls of your home. In fact, contained areas may pose a greater health risk than open spaces.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that most homes have more than one source that contributes to indoor air pollution – in fact, potential sources can be found in just about every room of the house. This is an issue of growing concern to parents of young children, the elderly, and people who suffer from asthma and other lung diseases, but the EPA recommends we all be cautious about what we bring into our homes.

A new resource for the health-conscious is CertiPUR-US®, a not-for-profit certification program for the polyurethane foam used in bedding, mattresses, crib mattresses, pillows, and upholstered furniture. A growing number of people now look for CertiPUR-US® certified foam in their mattresses to ensure that the foam has been certified – made without form-aldehyde; flame retardants (Tris)– PBDEs, TDCPPs, or TCEPs; mercury, lead, and other heavy metals; phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and ozone depleters; and has low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emission (less than 0.5 parts per million).

People can easily find companies and brands offering CertiPUR-US certified foams by looking at the consumer directory on their website: www.certipur.us/listings. If a company is not listed, a consumer should not assume the foam is certified—even if it is labeled, or if a salesperson tells them the foam is certified. Only the listed companies have been verified.

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