As a naturopathic doctor that focuses his practice on environmental medicine and healthy clean living,
I came across a very interesting phenomenon in practice. I have seen that there’s a very small number
of patients in my practice that seem to be extremely sensitive to the materials that their mattresses and
pillows are made of. Even though this is a small number of patients (perhaps less than 10% of my
patients), it’s still very significant as these patients have been experiencing a collection of “strange and
undiagnosed” symptoms that ended up being caused by their everyday exposure to their mattresses.
Over many years, they have seen multiple doctors, running lots of tests, and even done MRIs, in their
attempt to find out what is causing their symptoms that do not seem to be improving with attempted
treatment over the last few months or years.
The collection of symptoms that my patients report, which I believe to be related to their exposure to
VOCs from their mattresses or pillows are fatigue, balance issues/dizziness (especially in the
morning), brain fog or poor concentration, headache in the morning, and along with the more rare
symptom of numbness and tingling either in their hands, feet, or face. The reason that I feel these are
coming from their mattress and pillow is that 1) their symptoms started shortly after they purchased them. 2) Their symptoms match those of low chronic ongoing exposure to solvent/VOCs/off-gassing.
3) Their symptoms improved once they tried sleeping on a mattress that does not off-gas petroleum-based solvents VOCs. These symptoms and the improvements have been seen specifically with
regards to some memory foam-based mattresses and pillows and their subsequent removal.
One question I get asked often is “Why does my partner have no symptoms while sleeping on the
same mattress that I appear to be reactive to?”
Without going into a lot of detail here, the simplest answer is that we are individuals and have very
different genetics and different total body burdens of toxicants and toxins. Everyone responds
differently to chemicals – from chemical cleaners to pharmaceuticals, to alcohol. Depending on how
well we can clear a specific category of toxicants/toxins (due to your individual genetic profile – for
example our glutathione-s-transferase detoxification profile and our methylation profile), and how high
of a total body burden we’ve acquired based on our hobbies, diets, jobs, and lifestyle, we will all
respond very differently to chemicals. Thus, the same exact exposure to a chemical compound will
cause one person to experience no symptoms, while in another person it may manifest with very
significant and life-altering symptoms.
Seeing the improvement in my patients’ health has inspired me to purchase an organic, clean, and
non-off gassing mattress for myself, specifically one made from natural rubber, latex foam. I have been
sleeping on one for years now, enjoying a cleaner sleeping experience and sleeping better overall.
It wasn’t until recently that I have had a chance to upgrade my bed to a Samina mattress & bed frame.
I decided to invest in my health a bit more, especially considering all the research showing how
important good quality sleep is for prevention of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and
When the crew from Samina came to my condo to install the bed, I was very pleasantly surprised by
the quality of the inclined bedframe and how It fits together so simply and without the use of any metal,
using a lock and key latch design. Also, with how easy it was to change from a 3 degrees incline to 5
or 7-degree incline if I ever decided to increase the incline (I started and stayed with 3 degrees for
now). It was obvious that a lot of care was taken in designing not only the bedframe but in every layer of the mattress, from the wooden panels for back support, organic latex foam, to the merino wool
To keep things short and simple, I was happy with the improvement that I experience in my sleep from
this upgrade to the Samina bed from my previous organic latex mattress. Both are great options for
improving the quality of my sleep and reducing my risk of developing any symptoms/future health
concerns and I can comfortably recommend anyone who is interested in optimizing their health to
look into upgrading to a Samina bed if they have the option to.
Dr. Aviad Elgez, ND
Our Canadian neighbors celebrate Thanksgiving this year on Monday, October 14th. Their holiday was designated in 1957 to give thanks for the bountiful harvest of the year.
As the holiday season approaches for us all, we are showered with invitations to celebrate, enjoy time with our families, and be grateful for the blessings of life. But few of us pause to ask—what is gratitude? Perhaps it’s simply taking a breath to appreciate the moment. Or maybe we should look up and acknowledge the astronomical complexity of nature that allows us to stand sure-footed on the surface of a planet spinning thousands of miles an hour, a blue haven in the vacuum of space.
Whatever gratitude means to you, there is no doubt that an attitude of gratitude gives us clearer eyes to see the people around us and the extraordinary, beautiful world that we share. No doubt it feels good to receive gratitude and be appreciated by those we love, but the simple practice of giving thanks may give back even more to us. Scientists have only begun to explore the possibilities of how gratitude affects our bodies and our health, and the research is fascinating.
A detailed article in USC Berkley’s “Greater Good Magazine[i]” discussed several recent studies on gratitude and heart conditions, muscle pain, and general physical wellbeing. While the evidence is still mixed in these areas, research shows that gratitude may have a direct effect on sleep.
According to a study by the University of Manchester’s School of Psychology[ii]:
“Gratitude predicted greater subjective sleep quality and sleep duration, and less sleep latency [time to fall asleep] and daytime dysfunction.”
A second study[iii] found that two weeks of keeping a regular gratitude journal resulted in i “…increases in hedonic well-being, optimism and sleep quality along with decreases in diastolic blood pressure.”
They went on to suggest that such positive thinking may be restorative to our overall health, and even reduce mortality. While research is still pending on exactly how our thoughts may affect our health, it seems giving thanks may grant wellbeing in return.
So let’s join our neighbors to the North in the spirit of the season by giving thanks for our own abundance of food and the farmers who grow our fruits and vegetables and grains. Maybe that one act of gratitude, as the research supports, will help you sleep a little better tonight.
Happy Thanksgiving, Canada! May we all be grateful and sleep well.
[i] Allen, Summer. “Is Gratitude Good for Your Health?” Greater Good Magazine, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_gratitude_good_for_your_health Accessed September 18, 2019.
[ii] Wood AM, Joseph S, Lloyd J, Atkins S. (2009). “Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions.” [Abstract]. NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19073292. Accessed September 18, 2019.
[iii] Jackowska M, Brown J, Ronaldson A, Steptoe A. (2016) “The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology and sleep.” [Abstract]. NCBI, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25736389. Accessed September 18, 2019.