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What do you sleep on? Mattress Alternatives?  RSS feed

 
mud bailey
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Location: Southwest Virginia, Zone 6/7
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We recently moved out of a furnished rental house and found ourselves without mattresses. In search of what to buy, we came across a multitude of articles informing us about all the toxic antiflammable chemicals that they now infuse every mattress with to save us all from death by fire, at least with the mattress you sleep on. The only way around the chemicals is to go organic (no surprise) but that requires a prescription?!?!?!!! and is super spendy - as in $1600 for a queen. We about cried.

Then we realized we couldn't possibly be the only people in this dilemma, and low and behold we discovered a mattress kit for buckwheat hulls that we bought the pattern to for $30. Sounded really good in theory. We are professional seamstresses, we literally make our living sewing and have a whole workroom devoted to such endeavors, and this pattern was hard. Took us a while to get the hang of making the pods and then it took three of us probably around 40 hours to make them all.

Now we are almost ready to fill them and we are having a hard time sourcing anything inexpensive for the filling. The pattern maker recommends buckwheat hulls, but at $2-8/lb, plus shipping, that's a hefty price tag for 350lbs, which is what we need to fill our two queen size mattresses. Plus, at this point, I'm also a little nervous about how comfortable its going to be. I can find no reviews saying these babies are the bomb.

I've thought of wool - but sourcing that is pretty spendy too - for something clean anyways. Goose down - same thing.
 
John Polk
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I've slept on a few straw mattresses in my time.
Once you get them worn in, they can be pretty comfortable.

Once it's 'used up', just toss it in the chicken coop, on its way to the compost pile, or great mulch.

 
Morgan Morrigan
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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best bed i have ever had. Love my airbed mattress. Don't know if they are adding the toxics to the new ones tho.
Mine came from a company discounted airbeds. com, but this seems to be a different one. My queen pillowtop was 499, and shipped in 2 boxes UPS.
the zip off top was nice for cleaning and airing it out.

this is a description from these guys http://discountairbed.com/adjustable_air_beds1.asp
12” Allegro Airbed
1st layer - Plush pillowtop, filled with virgin wool and Dupont Hollofill fiber foam, zippers off for airing - approximately 3” deep
2nd layer - Convoluted foam pad, upgrade to Visco Memory Foam - 2”
3rd layer - 7” air chambers, one or two



http://www.discountedairbeds.com/InnoBeds-C300-Air-Bed_p_92.html

http://discountairbedsfactory.com/



or, since you can cover, why not just sleeve a plastic one after rinsing well with acetic acid to remove plasticizers.

http://airbeds4less.com/

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=390549507227&item=390549507227&lgeo=1&vectorid=229466
 
Galadriel Freden
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John Polk wrote:I've slept on a few straw mattresses in my time.
Once you get them worn in, they can be pretty comfortable.

Once it's 'used up', just toss it in the chicken coop, on its way to the compost pile, or great mulch.



My small son is about ready to graduate to a big bed, and I keep suggesting a "straw tick" to my husband (I used to love Little House on the Prarie books as a child). He's not convinced!
 
Fabrizia Annunziata
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What about an authentic Japanese futon? I lived in Japan for a time and found them to be quite comfortable. I saw on eBay they have them made of 100% cotton batting. They are called "skiki-futon". Maybe it wouldn't be too hard to make one by hand. The are usually placed on top of a foam pad. I don't know how hard it would be to find a foam pad made of natural materials but they surely would be less toxic than all the things they put in matresses nowadays.
 
mud bailey
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Thanks for the ideas guys!

I found a good blog post about making a straw mattress... http://www.small-scale.net/yearofmud/2009/09/11/how-to-make-your-own-35-straw-mattress/

I'm going to see how the rest of the fam thinks about that option. It would mean tossing out all the work we've done so far, as the pods wouldn't work filled with straw, but it certainly meets the cost criteria. And they say they're comfortable.

Also looking into rice chaff. We found a local mill that actually processes buckwheat, so that's our last ditch effort to source those, will also ask about rice/oat chaff from them.

Does this mean though that most people just go traditional on this key piece of furniture because the alternatives are a pain in the butt?
 
Jordan Lowery
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Most of the year I sleep in my mayan hammock. It's large and comfortable. And in the morning it gets hooked to the wall. A benefit to people living in small spaces. It's made from all natural fibers.
 
Devon Olsen
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check out the links at the bottom of this thread that paul has for ads, MAYBE there are things there, otherwise, im interested to see what you come up with...

heres one: http://www.smarter.com/se--qq-latex%2Bmattress.html
 
Morgan Morrigan
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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the only futon i actually enjoyed sleeping on was from California Futons / Zen Futons, it had a 2" foam insert in the center.

Im a side sleeper, and the standard ones give me hip pointers....
 
Rory Rivers
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I realize it's not for everyone, but sleeping on the floor can be surprisingly comfortable. You just need something to insulate you from the ground and provide a little cushin (I use two wool blankets each folded in half). The first week or so it feels like, well, sleeping on the floor; but after that it just feels like sleeping in your bed i.e. the most comfortable place to sleep.
 
Jay Green
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Does this mean though that most people just go traditional on this key piece of furniture because the alternatives are a pain in the butt?


Pretty much. Priorities are different with every person and in a world increasingly comprised of manmade substances, it becomes monumental to escape chemicals that are harmful to you in one way or another. I've slept on straw tick, felt, cotton batting, etc. Now that I'm old and my bones hurt, any mattress I use needs the memory foam topper. I wouldn't give up that memory foam for all the natural fibers anyone could have.

I have found that any old, broken down and uncomfortable mattress can be made to feel like sleeping on a cloud if one just adds a memory foam mattress on top of it. I'm satisfied with that..extremely.
 
Julia Winter
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We are sleeping on natural latex foam. It's not super cheap, but most of the foam in our mattress is over 20 years old and still in lovely shape. (We got another layer of softer latex on top a few years ago because I was feeling too much pressure when I slept on my side.)

The foam can be bought separately from the mattress cover. You might want to look into buying foam - it comes in pieces that are half the width of a queen size mattress, in my experience. We have I think 3 layers in 6 pieces inside our mattress--that's all from the initial purchase--plus two more pieces about 2 inches think on top as sort of a "pillow top," held on by a mattress cover from Land's End. I think y'all could manage sewing the casing--it's not complex, just a sturdy fabric "box" with a zipper all around the top edge.

As for stuffing your pods, galium odoratum and galium verum are traditional for stuffing mattresses, and seem like they'd be more comfortable than straw. You're looking for a plant material, extremely dry, without any tough fibers than can poke through fabric. Hulls are cool because they have all those curves and thus will likely last longer without losing bounciness. Are there other hulls that are available in your area? You definitely don't want to be shipping such things.

The memory foam makes me nervous, but I'm basing this feeling after hearing a guest on a public radio show (WPR) who advised against the chemicals in them. I can't even remember her name, so I'm obviously not an expert on that topic.
 
R Scott
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Hard to beat a hammock for comfort vs. cost, in WARM climates.

For winter climes, I have used (at various stages of broke or hippydom) or seen all kinds of mattress stuffing:

Wool (seconds, short cuts, and coarse edges--free reject stuff)
Feathers
Straw
horsehair
Cotton (including one guy that used the blue-jean insulation made to replace fiberglass)
sheepskins (a couple layers are surprisingly comfortable and warm, even on top of cold cement)

 
Julia Winter
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Ooh! The blue jean insulation material is a great idea. We used some of that in our house recently. We got it at the local building supply place. You should ask around in your area. It was very fluffy and seemed quite benign, although you'd have to investigate if it's been treated with flame retardants and the like. . . . If it was clean, you could use it as a layer in-between straw and the outside cover, for example.
 
mud bailey
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This mattress hunt is like a rabbit hole. Hammock isn't going to work for us. Its cold here, and we don't have the inside space. Plus, it doesn't do well by our backs long term.

I've found a pretty local handmade mattress company that just opened its doors in December, and I'd love to support him, but I just don't feel like I have the $$ to do so. http://www.fizifuton.com/ But I'd really like to, because I like what they do and that they're close to me (4 hours) and small, etc. I'm seriously considering this option.

Also an option is to just contact his suppliers, which he lists on the site, and go directly to them to get the wool & cotton batting that he uses and try making our own, round 2. But that feels a little mean.

I just researched the blue jean insulation route, and the company actually sells mattresses! But they are treated for fire retardancy, but they say its non toxic, just not what it is... I've heard borax will do the trick. But they say they're mainly used for institutional bedding (per the website) so I'm guessing they're not that comfy. Plus I have this thing about supporting small companies over big ones, which puts me back to the local guy.

This is such a pickle.
 
Saer Greason
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My random bouts of homelessness have lost me my mattress and left me with only blankets for bedding. First time I was squatting in an apartment with concrete floors. I had one standard blanket (wool, nothing fancy), one comforter, and one big fuzzy winter blanket. I thought it would be uncomfortable but I had less back problems and pain sleeping that way after the first week than I ever did sleeping on a mattress. Now I have some different, less fluffy blankets, folded to cover a larger surface area (for the boyfriend) rather than being folded to be thicker, and it's still very comfortable. I think my body and brain adjust because when I lay down in bed I can't help think about how soft and fluffy it is even though it's only 1 - 1.5in thick, tops. On top of that, I can fold up my bed and put it away, I can wash my entire bed, and I'm very, very unlikely to get bedbugs (or immune, my roomie got 'em but I have seen one in here).
Since my first experience with my blanket bed I have been investigating buying or making a legit Japanese-style futon which are usually made with cotton or wool (US regulation don't allow cotton as it's flammable but you can get a script saying you need cotton). Alas, the futon is in the hundreds (no more expensive than a mattress though) and buying the cotton to make it myself would only be slightly cheaper. I'm still working on solutions to this dilemma.
The futon is traditionally put on a tatami mat, a mat made of woven rushes filled with straw and edged with cloth. The tatami mat is quite thick and adds extra cushion. I want to make one of these but I'm a little worried about the straw, which brings me to a question I'd like to add;

Won't straw get bugs?

(Sorry to ramble, hope there's some helpful info in there. Good luck!)
 
Ken Peavey
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I've spent many a night on a few layers of folded blankets.

Here's a video turning shopping bags into a sleeping mat.
 
Adam Klaus
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Saer Greason wrote:I have been investigating buying or making a legit Japanese-style futon which is traditionally put on a tatami mat, a mat made of woven rushes filled with straw and edged with cloth. The tatami mat is quite thick and adds extra cushion.


I have been sleeping on Japanese tatami/futon for a decade now. Cant imagine every going back(wards) to a normal bed. I built a cedar frame for the tatami, then put the futon on top. Futons come in wool or cotton, all natural. My bed is firm, comfortable, good for the spine, clean, and natural. Sourcing the tatami takes a little work, though easy to find now with the internets. The tatami is really durable and stays amazingly clean.

Highly, highly reccomended.
 
Julia Winter
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Love the sleeping mats out of plastic bags video! I made plastic bags into "plarn" and then wove them on my little lap loom into a fabric for a permanent shopping bag. I used string for the warp and plarn for the weft. The all-plastic crocheted mat is very functional. It is water resistant and you can just shake it out after use.
 
Amir Salvatore
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Saer Greason wrote:I have been investigating buying or making a legit Japanese-style futon which is traditionally put on a tatami mat, a mat made of woven rushes filled with straw and edged with cloth. The tatami mat is quite thick and adds extra cushion.


I suggest you take a peak at these guys if you got a bit of money to spend -> http://soaringheart.com/collections/organic-mattresses/Organic-Shikibutons

They're located in Seattle, WA. They hand make traditional shikibutons that are organic & chemical free. Which is amazing!! Although I haven't ordered from them yet - I'm just not sure if the futon is thick enough for my back, so I'm being cautious for the time being.
 
Elias Antoniou
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Since the surgery at my lower back, I had gotten into the mattress industry for 3 years in search of the perfect mattress working for a big latex mattress/bed company here in Greece. I have slept in beds costing 10.000 euros and more as well as in very good cheaper combinations of bed-mattresses, mattresses and comforters. My conclusions, after also doing customer service for the company for a year and after sleeping in numerous beds and mattresses, is that you need to pay a lot of money for great results and it won't last you more than 5 years, tops 10. Latex mattresses do the best job at conforming to the curves of the body and relaxing the spine (which is what we seek after, the surface to conform to our figure and not the opposite) but loose their attributes quite fast if they are full natural (100% natural latex) and are very expensive. Semi synthetic latex is just full of petrochemicals... Booooh!!!

I know you leave at a cold place but there are ways to be warm in a hammock and if you spend some time researching (there's a forum for them too), I am positive you won't go back to beds. Mayans for summer and Brazilians for the winter with proper bottom insulation and you'll have the most pressure-less sleep ever! It's like you sleep on a cloud! Only drawback is that you need to go solo... Not very comfy for couples...

Oh, and you just throw it in the washing machine or can be washed in a bucket with water and soap. Super easy and hygienic!
 
Cr Baker
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My husband has gotten very into hammocks, and has made numerous types for backpacking and backyard use. He sleeps in them overnight when we are apart or when he is camping -- he's even used them while camping in the snow (with a good sleepingbag and some extra insulation to the hammock itself).

I feel uncomfortable sleeping in a hammock at night, as I normally move a lot in my sleep and I'm afraid that I will fall off in the middle of the night, and I have trouble getting comfortable when I'm side-sleeping because of the dip. So it's certainly not for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, it's really a great option.

When I moved to my first apartment, I was super-broke. I spent and entire $18 furnishing the place, if that gives you any idea at all. I had no bed and no mattress, but I did have a sewing kit. I took a cotton comforter and a thin cotton blanket and sandwiched them around a whole bunch of cheap cotton t-shirts (I took donations from friends for a few weeks). Some thrift stores will give you their tshirt "seconds" (too ugly or torn to sell) for free if you ask nicely. I quilted the blanket side, but not the comforter side, so I wouldn't be sleeping directly on top of ridges. The whole thing took me about a week, working on it whenever I wasn't at my part-time job, and I ended up with a poor man's all-cotton futon big enough for a married couple. We just used it directly on top of a floor. It was firmer than a regular mattress, and a bit lumpy for the first week or so until the fibers and air pockets settled down. My back felt AMAZING sleeping on top of it, much better than anything else I've used since, although my husband wanted to get rid of it once we were able to afford something more conventional. It was very similar to a Japanese style futon that my dad had used for many years when I was growing up. And you can roll it up and put it in a closet during the day if you want to use the space for something else, which is really nice. If I was to make it again, I would probably use a stiffer fabric for the outside layer, and probably cut off the sleeves from the t-shirts before layering them together, just to make things a bit more uniform and easier to work with. I might also quilt several groups of smaller layers together, instead of quilting through the whole entire mess; that was a bit much. I imagine that that would add some more stability to the structure.

I do also like the idea of sleeping on top of blankets piled together. This has the obvious advantage of being easily washable, although it would take longer to set up each night before sleeping. I've done this while visiting family for up to a week at a time, though I haven't tried it for extended periods of time.

One thing to note, we do live in a warmer climate, and I imagine that for colder climates, insulation from the floor would be an important factor. I'm also not really worried about flammability in my bedding, as I almost never use a fireplace or heater at night. In cooler climates, this could obviously be more of a concern.

 
Rachel Watersong
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We just made a buckwheat hull mattress using the Open Your Eyes kit (this one: http://openyoureyesbedding.com/collections/frontpage/products/new-twist-modular-pod-size) and buckwheat hulls we got from a local company that sells them for pillows. Total cost of the project was $400, plus about 20 hours (including research). And... I LOVE it. It's very different from a spring mattress, feels hard when you sit on it or touch it. But when you get into bed and scootch your body down into the hulls, they form around you and are incredibly comfy. I've slept like a dead person 5 nights running now, and my back and neck feel better. The only downside we've found is that as a pair of snuggly newlyweds, it's a bit harder to spoon on the bed because one of us is usually on a buckwheat-lump. But... I think it's worth it. Especially knowing we're not sleeping on a bunch of carcinogenic chemicals or supporting the industry that produces them, and our mattress will never be in a landfill! Bonus: I added a couple handfuls of lavender to the buckwheat hulls, so now whenever I get in bed I'm smelling lavender.
 
Julia Winter
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Elias Antoniou wrote: Latex mattresses do the best job at conforming to the curves of the body and relaxing the spine (which is what we seek after, the surface to conform to our figure and not the opposite) but loose their attributes quite fast if they are full natural (100% natural latex) and are very expensive.


I'm not sure about this. I am sleeping on a 100% natural latex mattress that is over 20 years old and it's holding up really well. Natural latex is more expensive, until you amortize it over so many years. We did buy an additional layer of softer natural latex foam that we rolled out on top of the original mattress, but that was partly because sheets "expect" a much deeper/taller mattress, and I was less comfortable on a firm mattress, being a side sleeper who was gained twenty pounds over the past 20 years.

The original mattress is clever in that its foam is in six pieces. The case has a big zipper, so you deconstruct it when you need to move it, then reconstruct it at the new location. This is helpful, because natural latex is HEAVY.
 
John Master
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wheat bran should be easy to come by for cheap, if you are still going with the buckwheat hulls idea. wheat bran is way more plentiful.
 
Kris Minto
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I recently bought two twin mattress from Obansan (I am not affiliated what so ever with this company) for my kids who were upgrading to big kid bed. We bought the expensive organic (cotton, wool and rubber) mattress because of the chemicals found in regular mattress. I wasn't initially on board because of the high cost (~$1000 each with taxes) and because like most, we do not make huge salaries. But than my wife broke it down the daily cost for each mattress over the likely life spend and had me convinced.

$1000 twin mattress divided by 365 days (1 year) equal $2.74 per day. But the mattress should last 10 years (it has a 10 year warranty plus an additional 10 year pro-rated warranty). The organic mattress is really only costing us $0.27 per day --- $1000 / 3650 days (10 years) = $0.27. Once you get pass the initial purchase price, it's not that much once you brake it down.
My conventional pillow top mattress (Sealy Euro Pillowtop) is only a little over five years old and it has developed two sagging point after only four years and we are not overweigh individuals. I may end up spending as much in the long run if I am replacing my mattress every five years or so.

Karnold
 
Dan Boone
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I'd like to make a pitch here for a traditional solution: carefully chosen animal hides.

I grew up up sleeping on an unclipped, untanned (but well dried) caribou hide. I had a "normal" mattress in the family cabin, but whenever we camped out wild (which was often, and includes a couple of five-month stints at mining camp) I was issued my caribou hide. It had a distinctive but not unpleasant animal smell not unlike that of a clean dog (tanning would have prevented that) and was exceedingly warm and comfortable; plus, it was thick and cushy enough that even laid over a bed made from unpeeled poles, it was very comfy.

Caribou of course are notorious for having thick hollow hair. You might need a stack of cow hides (hair on) to get to the same comfort level. However I've seen some sheep rugs (typically four tanned sheep backs sheared about an inch long and sewn together) that are every bit as thick and cushy as the caribou.
 
Gordon Shephard
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Recently purchased a backpacking hammock...been sleeping in it every night for over a month, and if I have any choice, I'm never going back to any kind of mattress. Got an old down sleeping bag for a bottom quilt, a newer one for a top quilt, which has kept me plenty warm down to 40F. It is easier to fall out of a bed.
 
Nicole Alderman
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This is what we ended up getting for our two year old son http://www.mattresses.net/labeforki.html. It's blended latex, with an organic cotton and wool cover. Since they make it by relaminating the foam cut off of their custom-sized beds, it's a lot cheaper ($295 for a twin and $380 for a full). These are supposedly just for kids, as they are thinner mattresses, but my husband (190 pounds) and I (125 pounds) find it really comfy. It has no flame retardants. There's wool in the cotton cover for fire resistance (If you scroll down on this page, you can find more info http://www.mattresses.net/remaco1.html)

They also sell, of course, more expensive mattresses (from crib to California king and beyond), that aren't assembled from ends and pieces of latex. These are all more expensive, though! All their prices are competitive with the other latex bed manufactures that I found. They sell both all-natural and blended latex mattresses.

We went with the latex because it doesn't offgass, was actually within our budget, and is sort of natural... I did a lot of research on The Mattress Underground to figure out what mattress to buy. That website is really helpful!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Elias Antoniou wrote:
Latex mattresses do the best job at conforming to the curves of the body and relaxing the spine (which is what we seek after, the surface to conform to our figure and not the opposite) but loose their attributes quite fast if they are full natural (100% natural latex) and are very expensive. Semi synthetic latex is just full of petrochemicals... Booooh!!!


From what I've read (and I'm no expert!) the speed of the latex degrading depends on the mattress cover. The more exposed they are to oxidization and ultraviolet light, the faster they degrade... at least that's what I read here: http://www.themattressunderground.com/mattress-forum/general-mattresses/16798-mattress-topper-cover-encasement.html#45098. I also emailed Ken Hightower at Arizona Premium Mattress Company (www.mattresses.net, where I bought my son's mattress) and asked about their mattress cover and oxidization, and this is what he said, "It's the non quilted covers that can allow UC rays to degrade the latex, not quilted covers like ours."

I hope that helps!
 
meganjoy ostermann
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I got a kingsize cotton mattress zip cover (mite/bedbug resistant weave) on eBay for $30, sewed a couple sheets into sacks, stuffed one with wild prairie hay I stole from university field bales, another with buckwheat hulls, and the rest with sheep wool from an etsy seller. if I did it again I'd go sheep wool and hay, skip the hulls (very heavy and pack down easily) and get the natural latex to help keep it uniform flat. all under $300 sheep wool is amazing
 
Yampah Starr
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Lifekind organic mattresses and bedding
https://www.lifekind.com/

They are currently closing out showroom models and discontinued mattresses up to 63% off.
All mattresses come with 20-year warranty.

The site has lots of useful information in addition to their merchandise. When doing cost analysis, remember that we spend about a third of our lives on beds and sleep time is healing time.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Well, I know this requires electricity, but I sleep in a heated water bed. I bought one off craigslist from a clean family, the bed was 20 years old, so the vinyl had done most of its offgassing years before it came to my house. The liner was plenty aged too. (When the liner sprang a leak, I got pond liner to replace it. I left it outdoors in the open air for a week to let it off gas.)

What I enjoy about it: I live in a cold winter climate in a passively solar heated building. Before I got the waterbed, it was very cold and it took me a long time to get the bed warmed up with my body heat. Now I can leave the house pretty cold over night, and I am wonderfully comfy and warm in my bed. It's a huge savings of resources to not heat the house, just the bed. Also, the unheated air of the house is better for my respiratory health, and the colder house encourages a beneficial metabolism and brown adipose tissue as opposed to white. It is not the waveless kind of bed, so I can easily adjust for softer or firmer. It is easy to use all natural materials for bedding... wool blankets between the plastic and the sheet below me, cotton sheets, down comforter in cotton, and so on. There is no place for weird things to collect, no place for fleas or bedbugs to hide and wait to bite me. I could take it all apart and wash or sun every surface if it needed it.

Drawbacks, you need electricity (but "not much"). Weird things used to create it, off gassing when new.

I know it is not what everyone would choose, but for me it was a small investment for 7 years of trouble free clean warm sleeping.
 
Hans Quistorff
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I am also using a water bed. Started in the 70's. Recently had to replace the mattress very inexpensive. Off gassing only lasted a few days. Building a frame to hold it is fairly simple. I use an electric heater but my brotherinlaw when he was off grid heated his with a copper coil around the stove pipe and under the mattress. @ 75 years I really appreciate keeping my bones warm.
 
Julia Winter
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In grad school I had an old-school "bag of water" water bed and I loved it, for the reasons listed above and more. When it is cold, it's great to climb from a chilly room into a warm nest because the water is heated. In addition, when it is sticky hot (this bed was in Champaign, Illinois and when it's humid it doesn't cool off at night) it's lovely to lie down on a big bag of even 80 degree water, covered by a sheet. The lower-than-body-temperature mattress would sort of suck some of the heat out of your body. Add a fan blowing over a single sheet on top and you've turned a very sticky situation (hot and humid with no air conditioning) into a quite bearable one!

As a low cost sleeping option, a used waterbed is pretty awesome. Not terribly natural, but there you are. You might have concerns about EMF from the water heater as well, if you've heard about such things. I have, and it's made me pause, although the copper coil is a great idea.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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and speaking of the copper coil, if the stove pipe is too far from the waterbed, a person could rig up a sort of circulating hot water set up for hot water from another source. Maybe even one of those "hang it out the window solar collectors" that would capture heat during the day.

The water bed heater doesn't stay on much of the time, especially if you keep a nice insulator on it (down comforter, or your choice of substitutes). and if heating it was more complicated than the electric heater or copper coil wood stove pipe, a person could insulate the sides and bottom with the insulating material of their choice.

Another sleep system that I did not see mentioned on this thread yet is a "kang", a "chinese heated living platform". So folks think of the rocket stove mass heater with a cob bench as the mass. The cob bench made wide and long enough to sleep on is your kang. I remember Ianto Evans said people sometimes make heated personalized cob recliners, and that the situation of receiving heat from the cob seems to soften the material, it does not seem like you are resting on brick. I know people have over heated mass benches and singed the bottoms of their sleeping pads, attention would have to be paid... but why not a cob kang, whether heated with hot water coil or the exhaust gases from the rocket stove?
 
Sarauna Torrez
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Sheepskins on plywood are warm and comfy. If you can sew you could make a cover for them and they would last forever!
 
Michael Longfield
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Lately I have been sleeping on the floor, and experimenting with different layers below me. Right now its a thin foam pad below a sheep skin. We are setting up lodging at our permaculture farm so I'm getting interested in the idea of low-tech, home made, cheap, yet very comfy sleeping arrangements.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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And what were the original "feather-beds"? I imagine something like a tick filled with feathers. Not down so much as all the feathers except the really gnarly flight feathers, but maybe even those would not poke you if they were mixed in with all the others. How cheap that would be depends on how many birds you kill and pluck in a season. And as for making the tick, well, could you sub a duvet or comforter cover from good will? and wrap a cotton canvas tarp around it? The comforter cover would contain the feathers, (or straw or bedstraw/Gallium sp/cleavers, what ever filler) and the canvas would keep the filling from poking holes in the comforter cover made of lighter weight material. It might hold you for a season, and during that time you could find or make a more substantial tick. Just a thought for easy cheap comfy. I have not tried any of it.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Does anyone have trouble with vermin in their natural bedding? I mean wool moths and such? That would be my main concern. We desperately need a new mattress but can't afford one and I don't want a new stinky slab of toxic gick anyway, so I'm thinking of getting some kind of pad to top the old mattress with. But I don't want it to become infested with vermin.

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