Why the Best Mattress for Healthy Sleep Is Not Organic

by Sarah Green LivingComments: 26

best mattress for healthy sleep

Back in 2014, I wrote an article about how I had finally gone green in our bedroom after years of procrastination. This post generated quite a few emails from those who felt that the best mattress for nontoxic sleep surely must be organic. The emails suggested that organic mattresses are in fact the healthiest choice for optimal sleep and the environment, and that I was greenwashing people with my review of the Intellibed mattress which I discovered to be the best mattress on the market.

I politely beg to differ.

In fact, I disagree so much with the assumption that the best mattress must be organic that I have replaced my children’s three beds with Intellibed mattresses (and pillows) too since that original post was written.

After all, just because a food is labeled organic, does this mean it is the best option? Of course not. Any fan of local food that isn’t certified organic has experienced this for themselves. Well, the same goes for mattresses.

If you are looking to replace your mattress to improve the quality of your sleep (good decision!) and are being swayed by the argument that the healthiest and best mattress is an organic one, here are some points to consider along with some pictures and video footage of the Intellibed assembly line that I filmed myself while visiting the factory in order to verify all claims about this bed.

First of all, let me start out by saying this:

If any organic mattress on the market was actually better than Intellibed, trust me, I would be sleeping on it and more importantly, so would my three kids!

What’s more, I am not married to my decision about Intellibed. If there was really and truly any other mattress on the market that was better, I would be writing a review about that mattress instead.

I challenge you to dig in and do the research for yourself. I took the extreme step of flying to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit the Intellibed factory and walk the entire assembly line to ensure that the claims about this bed are accurate. But, don’t believe me. Don’t believe anyone especially a salesperson, marketing materials or even an online review. Find out for yourself by doing the research about the various mattress options available today and ideally sleeping on an Intellibed for a few weeks (no risk 60 day money back guarantee and the lowest mattress return rate in the industry).

The bottom line is that Intellibed continues to be the best mattress on the market the same as it was back in 2014 when I first switched over. This is why it is the preferred mattress used by hospitals for patients who have experienced life threatening burns and wounds. Here are the reasons why and important issues to consider:

Intellibed: Best Mattress for No-Allergen, Toxin Free Sleep

Healing and restorative sleep most optimally occurs in a nontoxic, hypoallergenic sleep environment. This includes no toxic flame retardant chemicals sprayed on the bed after manufacturing either.

A big misconception about organic mattresses is that they are hypoallergenic and won’t trigger allergy or chemical sensitivity problems like synthetic mattresses sprayed with flame retardants like tempur-pedic or sleep number beds. This is marketing spin, because organic beds in fact are not hypoallergenic at all.

The reason is that organic mattresses use a blend of natural materials like wool that can still cause allergy issues either all the time, on a seasonal basis, or only when immune function is temporarily depressed. Wool, in particular, is a very common allergen and can make people sneeze or itch.

Lanolin, which occurs naturally in wool grease, is a waxy substance produced by the sebaceous glands in a sheep’s skin. Many people react to it in a manner similar to cat dander. Exposure to lanolin residue along with the dust particles and organic matter in the wool is what is responsible for creating the allergic response. If you have an allergy to some wool, you probably have an allergy to all wool and would be advised to avoid ALL wool products.

The Intellibed mattress is made with materials that are nontoxic, naturally hypoallergenic, inert (do not conduct heat or cold), breathable and anti-microbial (resist mold and bacteria).

The only mattress material currently on the market that fits this description is made with a co-polymer gel called isoflex(r) that is manufactured using food grade materials. It is used in hospital mattresses for cushioning severe wound care and burn patients as it speeds healing and prevents bed sores. This material is called Intelli-GEL® when used to manufacture Intellibed mattresses for home use. To meet federal flame retardant regulations, nontoxic silica thread is used, which is the same stuff in the little white packets in supplement bottles. These materials are so nontoxic that the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) on the Intellibed assembly line are basically zero.

See the photo below that I took to personally verify this claim. IntelliBED nontoxicity

Below is a short video clip I filmed of the Intellibed assembly line. Notice that no masks or protective gear are being used by the workers because the assembly line air and overall environment is so nontoxic. In fact, the VOCs actually measured slightly higher in the office building nearby than on the factory floor where the Intellibeds were being put together!


Intellibed: Best Mattress for Durability

I became very turned off by the claims of the natural and organic mattress industry when the two beds that I purchased for my boys’ room a few years ago lasted only 18 months! I want to emphasize that I properly turned and flipped the mattress every single month as I was advised at the mattress store. Still, they both still started to sag badly within 6 months of buying them. What a waste of money. I couldn’t even give them away they were in such bad shape even though I considered them still new.

The truth is that natural and organic mattresses just don’t hold up in my experience. Even a sturdy wool mattress will get you 5 to at most 10 years of maintenance free use especially if you are a large person or have two people sleeping in the bed. This story about an 84 year old woman named Mary Hopkins who has had the same wool mattress (twin size) for over 40 years hides a very inconvenient truth … what she does to maintain it:

… the wool can be pulled out, stuffed, in batches, into pillow cases, put through the washing machine and after drying, carded back into fluffy pile before being returned to the mattress cover. “Every few years, it needs to be re-carded, as the wool slowly compacts,” says Mary. “In Italy during the summer, the mattress man, il cardatore, tours Italian homes, pulls out the wool from their mattresses, re-cards it, adds some more, as the process reduces the stuffing a bit, rebuttons and then sews the mattress cover back up again.” Mary submitted her mattress to this process four times.

In the 44 years that Mary has used her mattress, it has had to be re-carded 4 times … that’s about the 10 year maximum life of a typical organic mattress. I guess she slept on the couch while this was happening. Moreover, I’m guessing she is a very small woman and that is one itty bitty twin mattress. I imagine that two people sleeping on a queen or king sized wool mattress would cause the wool to compact much more quickly especially in the center or if either of them had any weight issues!

Given the expensive cost of an organic mattress which can cost upwards of $5,000 for the whole set-up, do you really want to be spending that much money every 5-10 years?

In contrast, an Intellibed doesn’t need any maintenance and it will still last you 30+ years with no issues other than a recommended turning once or twice a year. It also comes with a 30 year guarantee (the longest permitted by federal law) although it will probably last you even longer than that.

Below is a short video clip I filmed at the Intellibed factory to show just how durable the Intelli-GEL® is that makes up this nontoxic bed. This is why an Intellibed lasts for 30+ years and an organic mattress or any other type of conventional bed would need to be replaced 3-4 times in the same period of time. Which is better for the environment (and your wallet)? A product that has to be replaced often unnecessarily clogging up the landfills or one made from nontoxic, food grade materials that can last for decades?

Intellibed: Best Temperature Neutral Mattress

Intellibed mattresses sleep neither hot nor cold. They don’t trap the heat against the surface of your body like memory foam can. They also don’t soak the heat out of your body. This is due to the inert material that comprises an Intellibed – the patented Intelli-GEL®.

This means that people who tend to be naturally a bit warm or a bit chilly at night are both comfortable sleeping on it. This is especially good news for couples since many seem to be made up of one person who is hot most of the time and one person who is cold most of the time pared together in the same bed!

You’ve never experienced a more comfortable sleep temperature-wise than when you slumber on an Intellibed.

Intellibed: Best Mattress Sleep Technology 

While it is all well and good if a mattress is hypoallergenic, nontoxic and will last a long time, none of this really matters unless you get a good night’s sleep while laying on it.

Sleep is a critical part of the three legged stool of health: diet, exercise, and restorative sleep.

This is where Intellibed beats out all other mattresses – organic or not – the most. The hypoallergenic, nontoxic Intelli-GEL® used in an Intellibed cushions hips and shoulders and is so effective at reducing pressure points that it has been patented.  Even expensive memory foam or latex foam don’t compare as the Intellibed reduces pressure in these areas by as much as 80%.  The best way to describe it as you are laying on it is that it is soft but yet firm.  See the imaging below of pressure points experienced by the human body while laying on the various mattress types on the market.

pressure mapping images intellibed

The virtual elimination of pressure points on key areas like the back, pelvis and shoulders is why over 900 doctors, chiropractors, and orthopedic surgeons recommend the Intellibed for their patients including Robert Troell MD, the “Sleep Guru” from Stanford (1). In addition, Intellibed uses the same patented mattress technology chosen by hospital burn units because it provides relief for convalescing patients who would otherwise experience excruciating pain, inflammation, and compromised tissue healing on other types of mattresses.

But, beware of gel bed knockoffs that are starting to hit the market. They are not nontoxic like Intellibed and when tested, perform like foam beds and nothing like the patented Intelli-GEL®.

Intellibed: Best Mattress AND the Best Value

Many times, getting the “best” of anything means paying a premium. Not with Intellibed. Not only is Intellibed the best mattress out there today, it is also a great value costing less than other top of the line beds on the market, organic or conventional.

Price and compare it for yourself!

Try an Intellibed Risk Free

I hope this article better explains why we have four Intellibed mattresses and pillows in our home and why we didn’t choose any of the organic alternatives. Just because a food or product is certified and labeled “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.

If you would like to try an Intellibed for yourself, click here for more information or to do an online chat with one of the folks who work at the company. If you decide to order and try one risk free for 60 days, use coupon code HEALTHYHOME to get 10% off your total purchase. In addition to the discount, if you purchase a queen or king size mattress, you will receive a set of luxurious, sustainable bamboo sheets and 2 nontoxic Intellipillows ($500 total value).

I really hope you decide to try the Intellibed difference for yourself. At the very least, get a mattress for one of your kids and get their input. Kids are brutally honest, aren’t they? Here’s what two of my children say … my daughter says that sleeping on her Intellibed is like “sleeping on a cloud”. When on vacation with my middle schooler, he said the best thing about getting home was sleeping on his Intellibed again!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


I was not paid or asked to write this article, nor did I receive any free product for doing so. I believe so much in this bed, however, that I have agreed to put my name and picture on the Intellibed website as a testimonial. Some of the links in the article are affiliate links.

Comments (26)

  • IreneO

    just wondering if you researched the essentia bed before you decided on the intellibed? Or if you can give any feedback as to why I would not want to choose essentia?

    May 28th, 2016 3:21 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Essential does not have anywhere close to the sleep technology of the intellibed. I want not only nontoxic, but the best sleep technology on the market for my mattress. Essentia does not offer state of the art technology. The truth is that no organic beds have decent sleep technology, which is one big reason why I didn’t buy one. ALso, they are not hypoallergenic as wool irritates many people and living in FL, a wool bed is the last thing I wanted. Intellibed sleeps neither warm nor cool due to the gel support which is temperature neutral. I feel for what you actually get, organic beds are incredibly overpriced.

      May 28th, 2016 8:50 pm Reply
  • Kelly

    Hi Sarah,
    I sent another comment but it did not show up so I am sending again. I purchased the pillow after your last post just to get an idea of the product before such a large investment. The pillow has polyurethane foam in the middle. The foam is not airtight as you can see and feel it directly through the sides of the gel. I was disappointed because the salesman never mentioned it when I was speaking to him. I think this is an important point to consider…

    February 9th, 2016 10:49 am Reply
    • Sarah

      Hi Kelly, the foam in the intellipillow is *not* polyurethane foam. It is nontoxic soy foam. There is a small amount of soy foam in the intellibed mattress also … but only one inch in between the spring unit and intelliGEL and only on some models. There is also a small amount around the sides of the mattress so that you don’t slide off when you sit on the edge. Hope that helps alleviate any concerns you may have :)

      February 9th, 2016 5:11 pm Reply
  • Tona Bailey

    I enjoy your blog and have for years. However, we have an Intellibed and it made it about 5 years before we started to notice it was breaking down. I have sent two responses regarding our experience, not sure why they have not made it to your blog with a reply? We still have the bed and but have never proceeded to seek out the warranty because of what you have to do. We would have expected a more professional warranty process with a product that is quite expensive.

    January 30th, 2016 11:02 am Reply
    • Sarah

      Hi Tona, I never have seen a comment from you before today. Perhaps it went to the blog spam folder? Not sure why. Anyway, all you need to do is call intellibed and the bed will be replaced. I’ve had others on my other post say they were having trouble, but when they called, things were taken care of right away. Best not to send an email about a warranty issue .. talk to customer service directly.

      January 30th, 2016 5:18 pm Reply
      • Tona

        Thanks for your response. Not sure why my responses did not go through either. No big deal. We actually did contact intellibed a couple of years ago. They sent us an e-mail of what to do to check for sagging. Not an easy process especially since it is subjective on the consumers part. Then “if” you think it is a problem you pay a certain amount to send your bed back and they check it. You are also out of a bed for that period of time which is about a month. Maybe they have changed things since we checked a while back. However we just felt that the bed should have lasted longer than approximately 5 years before showing signs of breakdown and that the process of having that resolved should be better being that we paid a good amount of money for a good bed. We have had ours for almost 10 tears now and feel like we roll over a hill in the middle. I had said in my first response that we agree that this is the best choice for a bed with regards to allergies but not so sure with regards to longevity.

        February 2nd, 2016 9:51 am Reply
    • Sarah

      Tona, Intellibed did have some issues with a prior model that is no longer being made. The issue was addressed and no longer is a problem with the new models as of a couple of years ago. I encourage you to contact the company for your warranty replacement if you are having any sort of issues.

      February 3rd, 2016 12:13 pm Reply
  • Stacy

    I hope this isn’t an oversight on my part… Are any flame retardants used on any of their products (mattresses, protectors, pillows, etc.)?

    January 26th, 2016 11:23 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Absolutely no toxic flame retardant chemicals are used on an Intellibed! Instead, the company uses silica thread as the nontoxic way to adhere to federal flame prevention regulations in its mattresses. This is the same stuff that is in the little white packets you see in supplement bottles.

      January 27th, 2016 8:06 am Reply
      • steve

        The question about whether this brand used flame retardents is the OBVIOUS question – that is why so many people seek out organic mattresses, because we’ve been reading for decades about the toxic flame retardents in non-organic mattresses. The fact that this issue wasn’t addressed in this article, but had to be brought up by a reader instead of you, the author, shows that you are out of touch with what people are reading and what people are worrying about. I’m not interested in a description of the workers in the factory where they make the mattresses, sorry – I’m interested in the chemicals we will be breathing when we sleep on a mattress. That’s just plain logical.

        January 27th, 2016 6:35 pm Reply
        • Sarah

          Steve, actually I addressed the issue of flame retardants in my original article about the Intellibed in December 2014 which is linked to in the very first sentence of this post. I didn’t want to rehash old material and hence linked over to that very detailed article about it for those that were interested :) Is writing an entire article about the problem of flame retardants in mattresses today and helping to film a documentary about it in Salt Lake City (post coming up on that later this year) “in touch” enough for you? LOL

          January 27th, 2016 9:39 pm Reply
      • Stacy

        Thank you, Sarah.

        January 28th, 2016 8:55 pm Reply
  • Lyne

    Thanks for your response Sarah. I guess I will just have to wait it out until Intellibed opens stores like Sleep by Number finally did so I can lie on the bed first. My chiropractor has one on display but no one is allowed to lie on it!
    Too many negative comments about trying to return one if you don’t care for it. I know I would not want a mattress that felt anything like a waterbed and that’s what I want to determine before I invest this kind of money.

    January 23rd, 2016 4:37 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Intellibed has stores already. They are in the Western US.

      I want to reiterate that there are no issues returning an Intellibed and it doesn’t feel like a waterbed! As long as you use the mattress protector during the 60 day trial period you are good. This is not too much to ask. Also, only about 2% of people don’t like the intellibed when they try it (LOWEST IN THE INDUSTRY).. but one or two dissatisfied people can make a lot of noise especially online … I would go with the 98% that love it if I were you … sleep is too important to take a gamble on.

      Why don’t you look at some of the videos of the intellibed online. People are sitting and laying on them and you can see that they don’t jiggle around.

      A five minute stretch on a bed in a store tells you nothing anyway. You need to sleep on one for a few weeks to really find out whether you like it or not. My husband and I bought a sleep number based on laying down on it in a store for a few minutes … and hated it for the next 20 years until we finally replaced it with an intellibed in 2014. And no, sleep number wouldn’t take the bed back at all! At least intellibed will as long as you follow some basic hygiene by using a recommended mattress protector.

      January 23rd, 2016 7:40 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Here’s the return policy for intellibed. Very generous even the return shipping is covered. My guess is that those upset about the return policy somehow damaged the mattress and then expected intellibed to take it back (really??) .. or smoked in the bedroom or something that invalidated the warranty according to this return policy.

      January 24th, 2016 6:26 pm Reply
  • lyne

    Could you be a little clearer as to which Queen size mattress you purchased? I did not see one that matched the description you gave. Also, the “break-in” period sounds frustrating. I would hope to have a good night sleep the first night! Did you purchase the base too?

    January 22nd, 2016 4:56 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Yes, we have the base as well. The break-in period was no big deal in our experience. I was adjusted immediately from the very first night. It took my husband 2 nights to adjust (although he slept great from the get-go) and he was a tiny bit sore after the first night. It’s due to pressure points that normally experience pressure at night on other mattresses that no longer getting much if any pressure on the intellibed (see picture above) and healing occurring in those areas is my understanding of how it works. It looks like they’ve added some new models since I got mine in 2014. Mine is now called the Posture Perfect Lo-Motion.

      January 22nd, 2016 10:00 pm Reply
  • Andrew

    My daughter bought one for my grandchild, so I got to try it out. For me, it is absolutely not going to work. It was astonishingly “wiggly.” Some have likened it to being a bit similar to a waterbed. I know they have the claimed “zero partner disturbance” model, but you can count me as extremely skeptical. When the standard model wiggles like being on a boat, I have a very difficult time believing the “zero disturbance” really comes close to matching the low-motion offerings from conventional mattress makers. (We have one of those, currently.) I’m sure it’s a lot better than the standard IntelliBed offering, but I am very hard-pressed to believe there wouldn’t be a tremendous change to someone like me who is used to a bed that truly moves very,very little when my wife moves (and vice versa).

    My daughter wasn’t thrilled with it, either (and she had expected that she would be thrilled). She considered taking advantage of the return option, but the net refund, the way it was all structured, was not going to be very impressive.

    Bottom line: I trust your sincere delight in this company and its products, but I am not going to shell out that huge amount of money just hoping it will all work out. And that’s really what it would be, as the cost to returning it just ISN’T cheap. But I certainly respect your right to be happy with your purchase, and am glad that you are!

    January 22nd, 2016 2:07 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Having slept on waterbeds in the past (both the crazy wavy kind and the newer models that don’t move around as much) and an intellibed, I unfortunately cannot relate to your comment and really am scratching my head as to what you are talking about. An intellibed is not wiggly at all! It seems you probably had the mattress set up on an old unstable frame that needs to be replaced or the screws tightened up? Did you get the base and the frame along with the intellibed mattress? Sorry you didn’t like it. I’ve slept on foam beds, waterbeds, airbeds, wool beds and the intellibed blows them all away.

      January 22nd, 2016 10:08 pm Reply
  • iamalighthouse

    I appreciate your review. I’ve heard mixed reviews on this. From it being fabulous to the ‘soft’ one being far too hard and the person was unable to return it. For me, even though it has an awesome warranty and makes sense long-term…I just can’t cough up that much money right now. For those of us who would like a non-toxic solution sooner than later, what would be your recommendations? I’m very concerned about this, and have researched and researched (esp. on Amazon)…no wool allergies here, but I have had a hard time finding many alternatives.

    January 22nd, 2016 9:25 am Reply
    • Sarah

      The only reason you wouldn’t be able to return an intellibed is if you didn’t use the recommended mattress protector during the 60 day warranty period. If you can’t get a new mattress right now, I would suggest the Intellibed gel topper that will at least put something nontoxic between you and your existing mattress for the time being.

      January 22nd, 2016 9:30 am Reply
  • Eirin

    Hi Sarah.
    I was wondering what top madrass you would recomend to this bed.

    Best regards
    Eirin Kristin

    January 22nd, 2016 12:26 am Reply
    • Sarah

      Not sure exactly what you are asking, but if you are wondering what Intellibed models we have, our kids each have a twin Intellibed mattress and my husband and I have the queen size zero partner disturbance model.

      January 22nd, 2016 8:04 am Reply
  • Tracey

    I love that this has so many hypoallergenic components but dust mites also tend to be big problem for some. Is there anything about this mattress that would decrease the incidence of dust mites?

    January 21st, 2016 11:19 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Tracey, the Intellibed mattress protector may be sufficient for your needs. Intellibed eliminates manmade toxins from the sleeping environment, but dust is a naturally accumulating substance that occurs everywhere so follow whatever recommendations your allergist has for minimizing exposure if you are allergic.

      January 22nd, 2016 8:10 am Reply

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