By Ellie Porter
Managing Editor | SleepHelp.org
Congratulations! You just bought a new bed! You know what they say: new mattress, new you. Nobody says that? Okay. Well, it still sounds true.
When you bring your new mattress into your home, whether it came from a local store or an online one, it will likely be covered in plastic to keep it from being damaged in the process.
If you bought a bed-in-a-box from a company like Casper or Purple, the mattress will need to be unfurled and allowed to expand into its full form. When it does that, you may notice a distinctly chemical smell. That is called off-gassing - when chemicals are released into the air.
Off-gassing happens when volatile organic compounds break down and are emitted as gases or vapors. That might sound terrifying, but volatile organic compounds are found in thousands of manufactured household products.
Since the mid-1960s, most mattresses have been made out of polyurethane foam, which emits chemicals such as formaldehyde, chlorofluorocarbons, benzene, methylene chloride, toluene, trichloroethane, naphthalene, perfluorocarbons, according to Mother Jones. If you buy an organic mattress, you may have less of those chemicals, but there is still going to be some off-gassing.
Experts say that in general, it’s okay to breathe in the low levels of volatile organic compounds that a mattress releases every day. However, when you’re just getting your mattress out of the plastic, you’re going to get a face full of those chemicals.
If you know you have chemical sensitivities, then you should find a way to let your mattress air out somewhere where you don’t have to be. Even if you don’t, you might want to air it out anyway.
If you can, put the mattress somewhere outdoors to allow those chemicals to release themselves into the atmosphere, rather than in your home. Somewhere with a cross-breeze and ventilation is best. If you can’t put it outdoors due to weather, not having space, or needing to actually use it, pop open your doors and windows, and put the fan on high. Air it out for as long as you can before you need to spend the night on it to avoid as much of the chemical off-gassing as you can.
Something you can do in the long term to counteract the chemicals escaping from your mattress is to bring the garden indoors.
A 1989 NASA study found that having plants in your bedroom will help to improve the air quality. They’re like small air filters on their own! Adding a few plants, like Snake Plant, Spider Plant, Gerbera Daisies or Potted Mums, can be a beautiful addition to your space, as well as a healthy one.
Plants like Jasmine and Lavender emit calming scents that can help reduce anxiety and might help to cover the chemical smell that comes from a new mattress, so they would be a great addition as well.
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