About Me

I am a writer and artist with the soul of a swing-dancing Pony Express rider. Interests include consumerism, classic films, environmental issues, scent-free living, health, science, writing, and robots. My blog reflects exploration in word and image. I can’t promise how often I will or won't post. 2017 explores identity and boundaries beginning with nature vs. man.

Mattress Toppers Support Summer Holiday Comfort

Sleeeep...
Threshold topper, white Pristine Complete allergy cover, and "Sinkhole" the mattress.
Who hasn't felt a little like the Princess and the Pea at times? In real life and not fairy tales this usually happens when your back aches because of a worn out mattress. A pile of mattress toppers generally won't work because the foundation is the problem. The right topper match for the particular mattress can be a troublesome task.

"I'm allergic to wool, feathers, and latex, so they weren't options."*

Wait! Toppers smell toxic when new. Yes, some will need to air out longer than others, but the change in fire retardant laws, California Technical Bulletin 117-2-13, could be reducing unnecessary chemicals in foam materials. Also, toxicity awareness seems to be growing. CertiPUR-US isn't perfect but offers the sensitive consumer some guidelines to (somewhat) count on. Their approved foams are low VOC and without ozone depleters, PBDE flame retardants, heavy metals, formaldehyde, or phthalates. More on this topic at Debra Lynn Dadd's Q & A and here.

Current fire retardant notice.

"When traveling you're stuck with the mattress they provide."

During my summer travels a hotel's newer mattress was a pretty easy fix. A $25 purchase of a basic polyurethane foam topper from Target. For those who are multiple-chemical sensitive or scent sensitive, we have to allow time for the new topper to air out. This is a pain when traveling because you have to think ahead and prepare for just-in-case mattress situations.

A summer rental house didn't have an easy fix or really any good option since the mattresses were all ancient and hard as a rock, or newer but worn out and sagging. No topper can fix a mattress with a sink hole. But I tried. One tip: if you tried a mattress and topper and it didn't work--don't try it again a week later thinking you'll have a different outcome. (Yes, I did this. A waste of time and more back pain.)

The rock-hard, full-sized mattress, even with an aged three-inch memory foam topper seemed comfy, but the low-back pain in the middle of the night was a red-flag indicator for me to abandon ship. At least the rental owner had supplied toppers.

The ancient sofa which was probably 1960s patio furniture offered box-spring comfort (sarcasm). I pulled a different memory foam topper off of the king-sized bed and folded it in half--that's six inches of cushy softness--and put it on the sofa. Not too far into the night, a mysterious odor emanated from someplace, but I couldn't figure out where. The Raid-like odor increased. Then a light bulb went off in my brain. My body temperature warmed the topper which then released a dormant fragrance. Someone had sprayed this foam, maybe when it originally had the new smell, with a Raid-like cologne and really saturated it. The warmer it got the stronger the odor. I jumped up with the enthusiasm of someone covered in bees and disposed of the offending foam in an unused (and fragrant) bedroom. Then moved on to the next bed like Goldilocks. This was my last try.

The queen mattress had seemed newish with a puffy pillow-like top, but this was the one I nicknamed "sinkhole." Maybe kids had used it for a trampoline. The ends were still good but the middle wasn't. No matter the topper tried, this was a losing battle because the mattress coils were shot. I had to make this place work because this was the only rental left in town. Another tip: plan ahead and have options.

I'd brought along a two-inch thick egg crate memory foam topper and gave it try. Softness, yes, but my back ached from sinking into the hole. Because the mattress had a pillowy top you couldn't just buy a thick poly-topper from Bed, Bath, and Beyond and sink into comfort. I did buy the Wamsutta polyester stuffed fiberbed, but when combined with the mattress I ended up with neck pain that I couldn't shake for days. I also tried the basic topper used on the hotel bed, but it didn't add enough softness.

The weird thing about an aging puffy, pillowy-top mattress is that the foam top breaks down and you still end up with back pain from the hard springs as if a giant had wrung your spine out like a sponge. I ended up buying Authentic Comfort's Threshold Fresh Scent 1.5-inch Memory Foam Topper that required airing out for a minimum of four days. ("Fresh Scent" in the name is confusing because it doesn't seem to be scented.) After the airing time, I zipped it into an allergy cover and used it. The new foam odor continued to linger for a number of days, but the softness it added made it a compromise I chose to live with. Foam of any other composition or thickness either created a strangely firmer raft-like feel or was too spongy and contributed to back pain.

Sometimes you have to move on--to the next bed!
Threshold Topper
*A note on wool and feathers. They can be options for allergy sufferers. The cleaning process makes the difference. If they still smell like the farm, then keep looking. Also, consider the fabric casing. Can you deal with organic cotton? If not, ask about how the fabrics have been processed. I look for non-organic cotton free from formaldehyde, chlorine, heavy metals, and harmful chemicals including scents. When traveling use an allergy cover with bed bug-proof zipper.

More on natural, synthetic, and luxury toppers in this article from the Independent.
Allergy-friendly choices at Allergy Best Buys here.
Dewoolfson Down in North Carolina.

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6 comments

  1. Fascinating topic. I can relate to the Princess and the Pea reference. For me it's not only the mattress but also the pillow. I have a spare room full of pillows and mattress toppers. The quest is never ending. Thanks, Alonna, for sharing some great tips.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you about the quest seeming never ending! You never know when that rejected pillow or topper might come in handy. Keep in mind that old foam breaks down and releases fire retardants, etc. Might want to toss out old foam. My favorite traveling topper was finally sacrificed to the garbage gods. I can't believe it was so difficult to let go of a favorite topper.

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  2. Great post, Alonna! I come up against this problem when staying at my favorite place on the coast, particularly the "sink hole" I tried turning the bed around as one side was worse than the other, and that worked for a few days. I also wonder if turning it over might help? Never thought of a topper, though. Great idea!

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  3. Hi, Colleen! You're so right about rotating or flipping the mattress. Beyond that maybe an edge might still have some support. My Sinkhole in this post was beyond help. I do find I prefer a soft layer with support under it, so the toppers do come in handy with most mattresses.
    Growing up I remember hearing people would put a board between the mattress and box spring as a sinkhole solution. Not sure how that would work with current mattress construction.

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  4. Their approved foams are low VOC and without ozone depleters, PBDE flame retardants, heavy metals, formaldehyde, or phthalates. More on this topic at Debra Lynn Dadd's Q & A. http://mattresstoppercenter.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth, thanks for adding to the conversation.

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