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Frequently Asked Questions
Organic Mattress Recommendations
I have worked with thousands of customers and friends over many years. I have studied sleep and alignment issues. I don’t regard myself as an expert, but I hope you’ll find my answers honest, straightforward, and sensible.
–Michael Penny, Savvy Rest Founder
How To Choose
Back sleepers tend to value their alignment, and it is a little easier to stay aligned on your back. Back sleepers also seem to like a somewhat firmer mattress than side sleepers so they don’t “hammock”. For more information about sleeping on your back, you may want to consider our blog article, "Is It Better To Sleep On Your Back?"
Generally side sleepers need a little more pressure relief because pressure tends to build up in the shoulders and hips more quickly than it does for back sleepers. Therefore, side sleepers tend to do a little better on a softer mattress. What’s great about side sleeping is that there is no pressure on the lungs, and breathing is easy.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t see any redeeming quality of stomach sleeping, from an anatomical perspective. However, if you sleep best that way and you wake up refreshed, your neck and back feeling flexible and aligned, by all means continue. The main thing is not to get a mattress that is too soft because your body can hammock. Most stomach sleepers do not use a pillow, or use a small one.
What we find is that people who turn a lot tend to have pressure point problems. A pressure point is where circulation is reduced, heat is created, and your body sends you the signal to turn so circulation returns to that area. Most times what you need is a softer mattress that is pressure relieving. Memory foam is great for pressure relief, but it is also a petroleum product. Natural latex rubber is also pressure relieving.
If you really don’t know what your needs are, we recommend a medium Dunlop mattress. We would recommend configuring it this way: bottom layer Firm, middle layer Medium, and the top layer Soft. If you are getting a Queen or larger mattress, we recommend ordering it with all layers split (6 pieces total) for versatility. In this way you have maximum flexibility in terms of testing the mattress. You can make it really firm with Firm-Firm-Medium (Firms on the bottom) or pretty soft with Medium-Soft-Soft (Medium on the bottom). If you do an exchange, you’ll know exactly what you want from switching things around before you tell us which replacement layer(s) to send you.
The answer to this question is that it is totally individual. Some people have back problems and do better on a firm mattress. Some people with similar issues feel better on a soft mattress…and everything in between. Best advice: listen to your body over the advice you receive from anyone else. Your body will give you the answer that is right for you.
Normally as we get older, we need a softer mattress for pressure relief. Also, any condition such as fibromyalgia or arthritis will usually be eased by a softer mattress that offers pressure relief. We will always suggest the Serenity or the Unity Pillowtop as they allow for the greatest amount of pressure relief while still offering support.
From a physics perspective, your spouse will generate more force on the mattress than you will. Usually a heavier person will want a thicker, firmer mattress. The main thing with a bigger person is to ensure that there is enough material so he or she doesn’t “bottom out” (meaning, feel the foundation or the bottom of the bed). The only way for a big person to get some pressure relief with our mattress is to have 9” or more of natural latex, as in the Serenity or the Unity Pillowtop. That way s/he can feel the soft cushioning on top and the firm support underneath.
There is a reason you are rolling on to your stomach. Does it feel good to your back and neck when you sleep on your stomach? Why do you want to sleep on your side? Did someone tell you that, or is your body telling you that? Do you hold tension in your abdomen and feel some relief when you roll on your stomach? Your answers may alert you to some issue you may want to address with an activity such as stretching exercises or yoga.
This is very individual, but generally we don’t see any advantage to sleeping on your stomach. We have spoken with lots of therapists and customers about their sleep habits. Some think that sleeping on your back is better because it is easier to align your body when you are on your back. Others think that sleeping on your side is better because then there is no pressure on your lungs and it is easier to breathe. In short, what is best is whatever allows you to sleep most deeply and wake up most refreshed.
For more, check out our in-depth blog post: Is It Better To Sleep On Your Back?
We disagree. We sell both, and we have handled both. Both make a great mattress, but we feel strongly that the Natural Talalay is no better than the Natural Dunlop. That said, Talalay is better if you need a soft mattress. That’s because you can’t vary the softness of latex as much using Dunlop material. Dunlop latex tends to make a firmer mattress overall. So if you like to sink into the mattress or if you need a lot of pressure relief, we suggest the Natural Talalay.
If you can afford an adjustable bed, you will never regret having spent the money. It will allow you to sleep more comfortably with your head raised to the perfect height without using pillows or props. An adjustable bed can also help reduce snoring. As for a mattress, above all, listen to your body. Do not put a mattress that is too thick on an adjustable bed. 10” - 11” is about the maximum thickness that will work. If your mattress is too thick, it won’t articulate or bend very well, and that’s what makes the adjustable bed worthwhile. An adjustable bed is also wonderful if you have been standing a lot as you can raise the lower end of the bed and relieve your aching feet.
It's quite simple for most people. You can assemble it by yourself, but it is advisable to have a partner, as a king sheet of latex weighs about 60 lbs. If you are concerned about set-up, please give us a call. To see how it's done or read assembly instructions, check out our mattress assembly page.
Natural latex rubber is a natural product that comes from the rubber tree. Memory foam is a synthetic petroleum product. Memory foam is designed to relieve pressure. That's what it does best. However, natural latex is also pressure relieving. In our opinion it takes 6" – 9" of latex to provide as much relief as 3" - 4" of high-density memory foam.
In terms of durability, natural latex will normally outlast memory foam, but of course it depends on the quality of the latex and of the memory foam. Higher-end memory foam with density that is over 5 pounds per cubic foot will last almost as long as top-quality latex that has no clay or other additives.
In terms of safety, natural latex is much safer for most people. We usually don’t think of mattresses as being toxic, but memory foam mattresses are manufactured completely from chemicals. We have many testimonials from people who changed from memory foam to an organic mattress. Headaches were the main health problem that cleared up immediately, but in some cases nausea and even depression improved. If you have headaches and sleep on a memory foam mattress, it makes sense to make a change. Synthetic latex (or latex “blend”) mattresses also contain synthetic chemicals. The FDA, manufacturers, and salespeople will say they are safe, and maybe they are right; but if you have a health issue, in our opinion it’s better to listen to your body than to someone who is benefiting from a sale.
Some are made of very toxic chemicals that we don’t think should be next to a person’s body, or be breathed in, as these synthetic materials off-gas for eight hours every night. We are not scientists or experts in this area. If you want to know more, please visit the EPA website at www.epa.gov and look up the risks for some chemicals. Chemicals typically found in mattresses include formaldehyde, antimony, styrene, butadiene, various PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), toluene di-isocyante (TDI), and other glues and adhesives.
However, there may be no noticeable short-term effect on you. I look at it this way. I eat organic food, exercise, and practice moderation in all things. If there is a risk that any of these chemicals might trigger a degenerative disease, do I want to take a chance? Fifty years ago, asbestos was used in construction materials. Today, the law requires that specialists in protective gear remove the same asbestos. Fifty years from now, what will we be saying about the synthetic chemicals in mattresses?
Please see our blog post on latex allergy for a helpful overview.
Mold spores will grow on almost anything if there is a lot of moisture present. In general, keeping indoor humidity low (below 60 percent) is key to preventing mold. Every location (and bedroom) can differ with regard to how many mold spores are present, so the best prevention is to keep your bedroom environment and bedding dry and clean, which inhibits mold growth.
If you have a particular concern about mold in your home, or live in a humid, damp climate, you might also consider choosing natural Talalay for your mattress. The open cell structure of natural Talalay allows excellent air flow through the latex, which helps moisture to dissipate and evaporate more quickly. It's also advisable to place a breathable bed rug beneath your mattress.
While there’s no way to guarantee zero mold growth in any home or on any material, these measures will go a long way to reducing the risk.