The average person sleeps around eight hours a night — which amounts to a third of your life spent in bed. But despite the amount of time that we find ourselves tucked under our covers, most of us don’t give much thought to the place we plant our bodies when night falls (or when a nap calls). While it’s well-known that getting enough sleep is vital to our health and our ability to function effectively, many of us don’t consider the fact that the quality of sleep we get also plays an important role. One way to improve your night’s sleep is to invest in a high-quality 100% natural mattress. One of our favorites here at Inhabitat is by Coco-Mat, a family-owned, eco-minded company producing sustainable beds designed for the deepest of slumbers. Each of their beds is made from multiple layers of natural materials that provide optimal, elastic support to the human body, without the use of metal springs. The eco-friendly company only utilizes natural materials from renewable sources, such as coco fiber, natural rubber, wool, cotton, sea weed, horsehair, silk, linen, wood and goose down (read: no toxic chemicals or retardants). Established in 1989, Coco-Mat has developed a global following – and they recently set up shop right in the heart of New York City!
The importance of a good night’s sleep
If you’ve found yourself tossing and turning some nights, or find that your bed feels more like a cardboard box full of springs than a cozy place of respite, your mattress may be the source of these woes. A Harvard medical study revealed that 75% of people encounter sleep difficulties at least a few nights each week. Although a short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about, chronic sleep disruptions and sleep loss can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in your immune system’s power. Given how many hours you spend sleeping, it’s a good idea to invest in a quality mattress that’s going to keep the Sandman coming every night – a Coco-Mat mattress is guaranteed to last 20 years.
Coco-Mats‘ system provides perfect support for all body types, creating the best possible conditions for a healthy and relaxing sleep. Their 4-Layer Bed was developed after years of experience in mattress-making. Coco-Mat combines four top products in one bed system: bed-mattress, mattress, natural rubber top-mattress and goose down topper. Moreover, each individual layer consists of a specific combination of all-natural materials, giving the bed the elasticity your body requires.
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Toxic chemicals in mattresses and how they affect your health
After a series of mattress fire fatalities, a new law was enacted in 2007 requiring all newly produced mattresses to contain enough fire retardant to withstand a 2 foot wide blowtorch open flame for 70 seconds. As a result, now nearly 90% of mattresses (including those geared towards baby and kids) are being sold laden with highly toxic fire retardants to meet this standard. Unfortunately, while it is possible to meet this law in other, safer ways, flame retardants are the most cost-efficient for manufacturers, and long-term effects on human health are not considered. The average mattress can contain everything from boric acid (a reproductive and developmental toxin used as a pesticide) to antimony (a possible carcinogen that causes heart and lung damage) to decabromodiphenyl oxide (a possible carcinogen that causes hair and memory loss) and more.
Chemicals can leach though pillow and mattress covers, being absorbed through the skin, and direct exposure has been noted to cause everything from skin irritation, learning and memory deficits, cancer, heart, lung and kidney damage, and SIDS and birth defects in babies. As it stands there are no proven health risks from the substances in mattresses, but this is mostly because tracking their long-term, accumulated effects is virtually impossible (note: the law is just five years old).
Coco-Mat: A natural alternative that’s good for you and the earth
Unlike mass-produced mattresses, Coco-Mat forgoes treating its sleeping products with chemicals, and they rely exclusively on ecological, non-toxic, and non-aggressive dyes (if materials are not used in their natural state and color). They only employ natural materials to make their beds, mattresses, and cribs – much like the bedding used by the greats back in the day. “Socrates, Plato, Aristotle: they used to sleep on mattresses made out of cotton, made out of seaweed, made out of aroma therapy. So the principle is the same,” says Coco-Mat’s co-founder Paul Efmorfidis.We follow the tradition of all these wise people, and nowadays we produce non-metal beds and mattresses.”
Coco-Mat mattresses are made using layers of sustainable materials that range from rubberized coconut fiber, goosedown, horse hair, cactus, sustainable hardwood, cotton, wool, linen, down, lavender and jute. The company never uses metal in their beds, and they are built to be as easy on the environment as possible. While the mattresses are all-natural, Coco-Mat is still able to meet federal flame retardant standards. In fact, they are currently the only company that uses a layer of wool as a fire retardant and they have passed the tests required by the federal government.
Additionally, Coco-Mat is committed to protecting the environment and manufacturing products in a way that minimizes the company’s footprint the earth. Their products are all handmade in a manufacturing unit in Xanthi, Greece; the workshop comprises a total of seven buildings in an area covering 269,000 sq ft. The factory typically maintains a 96% recycling rate, and the company has invested heavily in new production methods that minimize the amount of waste and cut-offs, often reusing remaining materials to make additional products. The mattresses are even packaged in sustainable, reusable packaging when being shipped.
Where to find these fab mattresses
Coco-Mat mattresses can be found in over 2,700 luxury hotels across the globe, and their popularity has grown so much that they’ve opened 60 stores in 11 countries. Most notably, earlier this year they opened a 5,560 sq ft flagship store in the hip and trendy SoHo neighborhood of New York City (at 49 Mercer Street). The two-story shop is the company’s first in the US and it invites customers to learn more about their signature mattresses and their “sleep on nature” mantra. If you’re in town, we highly recommend that you stop on by, learn a bit more about what goes into making them, and of course give them a try for yourself.