Mattresses: What You're Sleeping On

When I go to bed, I'm looking for a good night's sleep. Maybe some sweet dreams. But, mostly some good, restorative sleep.

What's crazy to me is that the mattresses (and pillows) we are sleeping on pose some health risks. The main risks come from chemical fire retardants and volatile organic compounds, both of which are toxic and found in the majority of mattresses, especially memory foam mattresses. We won't go into that here, but if you're interested click the links below to learn more.

These nasty chemicals are worth avoiding. But, you also need to make sure you choose a mattress that enhances sleep and helps with any issues like back pain. Plus, you and your partner may want to be able to accommodate different firmness preferences. 

Your average memory foam mattress, such as the common TempurPedic mattress, are made with proprietary blends and do not disclose what they are made with, including the fire retardants used. However, Ryan Trainer, EVP of the International Sleep Products Association (an industry group) says that most [foam mattresses] use "various types of barrier fabrics" like cotton treated with boric acid or rayon treated with silica—relatively benign chemicals—as well as fire-resistant materials such as modacrylic fiber (which contains antimony oxide, a carcinogen) and melamine resin (which contains formaldehyde). In addition, around 15% of customers complain of off-gassing and odors from memory foam mattresses in general. This number is higher for TempurPedic mattress customers, with 18% of these customers complaining of off-gassing. 

So, what are your alternatives?

We recommend three mattress options below. Our first recommendation is the IntelliBED, which offers a balance between quality and affordability, and they hit the important health issues that I look for when sourcing mattresses for Cara’s Market: absence of chemical fire retardants and low levels of other volatile organic compounds that have serious health impacts. The following two options provide information on two mattresses that are further along on the healthiness spectrum. 

Option 1: The IntelliBed - with a 10% discount from Cara's Market

The best alternative that I have found comes highly rated for having fewer harmful chemicals in it, while also being comfortable and more affordable than some full-out organic, wool or natural latex mattresses. The Intellibed focuses on “non-toxic sleep” and balances quality (good cushioning, durability) with safety. They test all of the materials they use for safety, opting for natural and organic materials where they can. Their adult mattresses are made with non-toxic materials in the main sleeping portions, and the rest is made from polyurethane foam that is Certi-pur certified, meaning it is low in VOCs, and made without the most harmful fire retardants such as PBDEs, and other chemicals such as lead, mercury, and formaldehyde.

They have multiple options for adult mattresses, with different levels of support (see here: They offer a range of prices, to help balance cost with quality, while addressing health considerations. In addition, while they don’t have retail locations, they offer the opportunity to do a consultation to help you select the best of the four options for your needs, if you want to ensure it addresses your specific needs.

For example, the Posture Perfect comes with a 60-day in-home trial and a 30-year warranty. King-size Tempurpedic mattresses range in cost from around $2,299 to $5,299, so the cost between the two brands is comparable. 

Lastly, we are excited about these ones because we have a 10% discounts on these mattresses for customers that use discount code CarasMarket10

Option 2: Coyuchi

Coyuchi's organic mattress takes it to the next level, and is for those that want - or need - to go the full health distance. Their mattresses meet all flammability standards without using toxic chemicals and come in three different firmnesses. They are made in the US and meet a variety of health standards, including being built in a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified factory in Ohio using GOTS-certified organic cotton, Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS)-certified organic latex and wool, and are tested for off-gassing and certified to the GREENGUARD Gold Standard.

Beyond the incredible healthiness, Coyuchi offers a lot of customization. The first neat feature is that you can specify different firmnesses for the two sides of the mattress. The second neat feature is that the mattress is modular, so you can swap the top layer for different firmnesses, if your needs change over time (there's a simple zipper for swapping out the layer). Plus, you get free shipping. Lastly, if you get the mattress and the firmness isn't right, you get one complimentary layer exchange (excluding shipping) within 90 days of purchase.