How Toxic Is Your Bed?

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How to Stop Your Bed from Making You Sick

You likely make an effort to get good sleep at night, because you know sleep is vital for your health. Maybe you even bought a special memory foam mattress or a foam mattress topper, in hopes that it would help you sleep. But did you know your bed can expose you to toxic chemicals?

Unfortunately, most mattresses and bedding are dosed in flame-retardants and other chemicals like pesticides. As you sleep, the chemicals come into contact with your body and can be absorbed. These toxins from the off-gassing mattress are also released into the air to become part of the dust in your home. This is not a good scenario for health!

Read on to learn more about toxins that may be lurking in your bed and steps you can take to avoid these issues.

Chemicals in Mattresses

By law, mattresses must withstand an open flame from a blowtorch for over a minute without bursting into flame. This is generally accomplished by covering the mattress with flame-retardant chemicals, which are linked to various health issues. (1, 2)

These toxic, flame-retardant chemicals in mattresses include:

  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE). This is a strong flame-retardant. It was banned in the US in 2004, but if your mattress is old, you may still be getting exposed. Unfortunately, PBDE exposure has been linked to hormone imbalances, thyroid issues, cognitive difficulties, and more. It is especially harmful to children. (3, 4)

  • Organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs). This class of chemicals has been used as a replacement for PBDE; however, it comes with its own list of health risks, as OPFRs are known carcinogens and neurotoxicants. (5)

  • Formaldehyde. This one is used as an adhesive in some memory foam mattresses, and is a known carcinogen. (6)

  • Decabromodiphenyl Oxide. This is another potent flame retardant that is also suspected to be a carcinogen and neurological toxicant.

Dust Mites and Mold in Mattresses

In addition to chemicals, your mattress may be housing other unwanted visitors. Dust mites are tiny, spider-like creatures that are too small for us to see, but they love to live in mattresses. These tiny bugs extract their water from the air, so this means they like any warm, humid place they can find, such as your mattress.

While they don’t bite, they unfortunately do produce waste, which is highly allergenic for us. As Katie (Wellness Mama) notes in her article:

“Dust mite feces (their poop) contain powerful digestive enzymes that actually allow the resourceful dust mite to eat and gain energy from its own waste.

But for humans, these enzymes can be destructive. In fact, there are over 20 allergens in a single dust mite waste packet, which can easily enter the human bloodstream when disturbed and sent airborne.” (7)

Dust mite allergens have been linked to asthma, hay fever, conjunctivitis, eczema, and more. (8)

Additionally, the warm, humid atmosphere in mattresses makes them a great place to harbor toxic mold, which, if you know my story, is a big deal!

Pesticides in Bedding

Most sheets and blankets are made from cotton, which is one of the dirtiest crops in the world, sprayed with all kinds of pesticides. When pesticide-laden sheets come into contact with your skin, you can absorb these chemicals into your body. (9)

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to take care of these issues.

Unfortunately, there is still another way your bed might be making you sick.

EMF Exposure from Metal Bed Frames

If you’ve heard of exposure to EMFs (Electromagnetic Frequencies), you likely know it’s a controversial issue. While there are some outrageous claims, there is enough evidence that it should inspire us to do what we can to protect ourselves and our families.

Per Claus Plummer, a holistic sleep coach from Samina Sleep Systems (you can see my interview with him below), metal bed frames and springs in mattresses can be excellent conductors of the EMFs, concentrating them and sending them straight into our bodies. Since we’re hopefully spending all night (⅓ of our lives) on our mattresses, this is something to consider.

At this point, you may be ready to throw your hands up in despair. Who knew there could be so many problems with a simple bed?

Don’t worry-- as I was learning about this, I felt overwhelmed, too! Let me share with you some tips and ideas for detoxing your bed.

How to Find a Healthy Mattress (That Works)

As part of my research, I recently recorded a discussion I had with Claus Pummer, a Holistic Sleep Coach and sleep expert. He walked me through many tips on finding a healthier mattress.

In this interview, we discuss:

  • How to choose a non toxic mattress carefully

  • Questions to ask when buying a mattress

  • How to discourage dust mites

  • Non-toxic flame retardant options

  • The pros and cons of different types of rubber in mattresses

  • How to evaluate your sleep environment

  • How to test and reduce your nighttime EMF levels

No time to watch the full interview? That’s okay!  

I’ll go ahead and share with you some great non-toxic options.

For mattresses, consider the Samina Sleeping System. This mattress uses a natural flame-retardant (sheep’s wool), discourages the dust mites, and reduces EMF exposure. We don’t get any commissions if you buy a Samina, but tell Claus you came from Bridgit Danner’s community!

There are other options out there at various price points, just be sure to do your research as many companies practice ‘greenwashing,’ making it sound like their materials are safer than you’d think.

For non-toxic bedding, I love Coyuchi’s organic bedding sets. These products are made with organic material, so you don’t have to worry about absorbing pesticides while you sleep.

Daily Detox Options

Concerned about chemicals and allergens you’ve been exposed to already? No money for a bed right now? Here are a couple easy options to give you peace of mind that you are supporting your body each day in clearing toxins:

  1. Our Detox Starter Kit                

Our Detox Starter kit contains a dry brush kit ( a great way to move lymph and expel toxins), a binder called GI Detox (learn more below), and a glutathione mouth spray.

Glutathione is the most important antioxidant in the body. It helps us clear toxins, and it’s depleted in the presence of toxic load.

2.  GI Detox                    

GI Detox is a blend of the most effective binders to help ‘bind’ toxins in your intestines and help them exit the body. Binders are the garbage men of the supplement world; they aren’t the sexy star but they get the job done!

Purchase either product today at a discount! Use the code NEW15 for 15% off if you are new shopper at our site.

If you are returning shopper, use the code DETOXNOW for free shipping within the US on your whole order. Thanks!


Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and