Side sleeper in CO - need advice on good "natural" mattress

First, I am thoroughly impressed with your knowledge of the mattress industry, what appears to be a strong integrity and keeping discussions on your site based on facts. Thanks for sharing your mattress wisdom to us consumers who
wish for a good night sleep.

Are there any natural memory foam like mattresses out there that don’t have all the
chemicals? I like the feel of the Tempur -pedic Cloud Luxe, but am concerned with the off gasing, and smell we noticed in the store. Are there any places in Denver you would recommend?

Interestingly I have had similar concerns with the Essentia mattress site like you mentioned in another forum. They seem like the alternative I am looking for, but it also seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors without good facts and examples to back up their claims. Please continue to find the real story (and if their claims are true, are people happy?). If there are any options like this, I would be interested and am willing to spend what it takes to find a great mattress so please advise.

I am 5’10, 170 male, aging athlete that could use a break, especially in the shoulders - my wife could
sleep on anything.


Hi Needsleep,

I appreciate the comments :slight_smile:

In a word (or actually 2 words) … unfortunately no. Memory foam is a chemical composition that is a form of polyurethane which is made primarily of a polyol and an isocyanate mixed in with other ingredients to both make it into a foam and to control the final degree of viscosity and elasticity of the cured foam. There are certainly many variations of polyols that are used, some of which can be sourced from plants (which can partially replace petrochemical polyols), but they are all “chemicals” in the end … even those that are not petrochemical based. There are also various forms of isocyanates used … the most common being TDI and MDI but these too are also chemicals which are not natural in any way. It is generally thought that of the two … MDI is “safer” than TDI (which contains Toluene). The best that can normally be done is to control the amount of outgassing of the finished product and the more harmful compounds that are outgassing to levels below those that cause harm to the majority of people. This is where various testing organizations such as CertiPur or better yet Oeko-Tex can come in handy. Most of the Oeko-Tex polyurethane and memory foams that are certified are made with MDI to my knowledge.

Essentia claims that they have a memory foam made with latex but if you look at this thread in the forum here from a couple of weeks ago where they came to the forum to participate in the thread … at least for a few posts … it seems (to me at least) that their foam is far more likely to be an MDI based polyurethane foam that is using some plant based polyols and has some latex infused in it. Even their latex has SBR in it rather than being NR or natural rubber (based on their own information and some independent test results that I received that tested for various ingredients in their foam). I just wish that they would have continued in their conversation and answered some of the harder questions that have been posed to them by others as well over the years they have been in business and which they never seem to answer satisfactorily. They may be a “better choice” in terms of the ingredients they use in their mattresses (compared to other polyurethane foams at least) but they are certainly an expensive choice and IMO they are not a transparent choice and they don’t do themselves any favors with the untrue or misleading statements on their website either about their own product or other products.

So with memory foam … at least with the current state of technology … there are more and less healthy versions based on the type and amount of offgassing and the testing that has been done on the foam but there are no “green” or “natural” versions currently available. This is why I have been such an advocate of using memory foam which has some type of certification behind it and where the results of the testing is public information (I have personally experienced issues connected toxic outgassing with a certain brand of memory foam and they aren’t fun).

There are also “slow recovery” latex products made by several companies but these have a different feel from the latex infused polyurethane or memory foam products which are being manufactured in several places. One is more latex based and one is more polyurethane based. I also have some hope for some of the newer generation of gel products (made only from gel and not infused or added to something else) which have the visco elastic qualities of memory foam but are also very expensive. I am also following some of the newer types of gel memory foam products which are coming out which are memory foams with gel infusions which are chemically bonded to the structure of the foam rather than ground up gel particles which is added into the foam.

I have had to do a lot more research into the actual chemisty and manufacturing methods of various foams than I would have thought or hoped since I started this site (and I’m certainly not a chemist) just to “break through” and find the truth behind the many stories involving so called “green” or “natural” ingredients but the good news about this is that so far what I have discovered in my research mostly confirms what common sense has told me in the first place. The second bit of good news is that there is a trend in the manufacturing of polyurethane foams that is moving towards the use of less harmful chemicals and manufacturing methods and towards the use of more renewable and less petrochemical based ingredients … but none of them can IMO be called anything close to natural or even “green”.

There are some better choices in the Denver area and the ones I know about are …

Denver Mattress® - The Easiest Way to Get the Right Mattress Denver and many others in Colorado. Regional factory direct manufacturer which also makes a wide range of mattresses of most types that use good quality materials and have some good value. I would stay away from the mattresses they sell which are made by the major brands. Boulder. Factory direct manufacturer in Boulder that makes a range of latex mattresses with good quality and value and would be well worth a visit. Boulder, Frisco, Longmont. Regional factory direct manufacturer which makes a wide range of mattresses of most types. Denver, Fort Collins. Smaller national manufacturer which also has several factory direct outlets. Makes mattresses of many different types including latex and memory foam. I would stay away from airbeds which they also manufacture. Denver. Retail outlet with a line of mattresses made by Restwell. they carry a variety of latex and memory foam mattresses (make sure you check foam density for polyfoam and memory foam here). Denver. Ft Collins. Retail direct outlet for several high quality brands of latex and other natural mattresses. Denver, Centennial, Cherry Creek, Boulder, Fort Collins. Retail direct outlet for their own house brand (Urban organics latex mattresses), along with a range of mattresses made by Sherwood, Suite Sleep, and VI Springs (ultra premium). Good people who have always been knowledgeable and open about their mattresses when I have talked with them. Denver, Centennial. They carry a range of innerspring, latex, latex hybrid, and memory foam mattresses including their own private label brand made to their specs by Therapedic locally and they also carry a component latex mattress with customizable layers. Very knowledgeable and helpful. Some better quality and value here and their pricing is also “no haggle” which means that you don’t have to “negotiate” to get their best price. Good people Boulder. Retail outlet that carries their own house brand of latex mattresses made by Vymac. Open and informative about the contents of what they sell.

These should give you a number of good places for testing and I would do a little phone research first to give you a sense of the range of choices at each outlet and the knowledge and service that you can expect if you visit them.

Given your side sleeping and shoulder issues … it would be important to have a comfort zone that was both soft and thick enough to give you the pressure relief you need (3" is a good starting point for most side sleepers). Under this of course would be a support core that is firm enough to keep you in alignment and keep your hips and pelvis from sinking in too much. Softer support cores would normally use a thinner comfort layer while firmer support cores will usually need a little thicker comfort layer.

If you have questions along the way feel free to post them here.


Thank you for the help. Do you recommend buying at one of these stores rather than online? My experience with Boulder stores as well as RoomandBoard is that they can be very expensive.

Thank you again for your help and postings.


Hi adeane,

That depends on the relative value of a local purchase compared to an online choice that uses similar materials and has a similar design.

The steps I recommend following with any mattress purchase are in post #1 here (and I would always start with local testing where possible so you can become familiar with different materials and designs).

Once you have narrowed down your final local choices then you can make more meaningful comparisons to similar online choices in “apples to apples” comparisons based on your own personal value equation.

I generally suggest that a “local premium” of about 20% or so would be roughly “equivalent value” to a similar online choice because of the lower risk of buying a local mattress that you can test first for PPP but the percentage that you may consider to be “equivalent” would depend on your own risk tolerance and your confidence that an online purchase would be suitable for you.

You can read more about the pros and cons of an online vs a local purchase in this thread.


I’m also a side sleeper with bad shoulder issues and lower back pain. I am in this same area and will try out some of these stores you have listed. Now when you say 3 inches what exactly do you mean? I noticed with a firm mattress it puts a lot of pressure on my shoulders but with a to soft of a mattress it hurts my lower back. What type of construction should I look for? I’ve been looking at hybrids but am curious about latex. Are there any great latex beds around the $1000 to $1400 range? I’m willing to go up to $1600 if its worth it. I have no idea though what a latex bed even is.

Hi FreedomFighter7,

I’ve answered your questions in my reply to your previous post here :).

i was referring to the thickness of the top comfort layer in the mattress but I would pay more attention to your own careful testing in the store than focusing on the thickness of the layers. The thickness of a mattress or the number of layers or the thickness of any individual layers inside it is really just a side effect of the design and the design goals of a mattress and is also only one of many variables that can affect the feel and performance of a mattress relative to any particular person and by itself isn’t particularly meaningful (see post #2 here). In some cases higher weight ranges (or a higher BMI) will sometimes do better with a mattress that is thicker than lower weight ranges or a lower BMI (see post #14 here for more about the effect of thickness) but even this depends more on the specific design and combination of materials in the mattress and on how well your testing or personal experience indicates the mattress “as a whole” matches your specific needs and preferences in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and your own Personal preferences) than it does on just the thickness itself.

Assuming that the materials in a mattress you are considering are durable enough for your body type and meet the quality/durability guidelines here relative to your weight range … the choice between different types and combinations of materials and components or different types of mattresses are more of a preference and a budget choice than a “better/worse” choice (see this article). The best way to know which types of materials or mattresses you tend to prefer in more general terms would be based on your own testing or personal experience.

I don’t keep a record of the individual mattresses or their specs that the retailers and manufacturers in the hundreds of forum lists throughout the forum carry on their floor or have available online (it would be a bigger job than anyone could keep up with in a constantly changing market) but checking their websites and making some preliminary phone calls to the retailers/manufacturers that are on the local or online lists is always a good idea before you decide on which retailers or manufacturers you wish to deal with anyway. This will tell you which of them carry mattresses that would meet your specific criteria, are transparent about the materials in their mattresses, and that carry the type of mattresses that you are interested in that are also in the budget range you are comfortable with. Once you have checked their websites and/or talked with the ones that interest you then you will be in a much better position to decide on the ones that you are most interested in considering or visiting based on the results of your preliminary research and conversations.

I or some of the more knowledgeable members of the site can help you to narrow down your options, help you focus on better quality/value choices that are available to you either locally or online, help you identify any lower quality materials or weak links in a mattress, act as a fact check, answer many of the specific questions you may have along the way that don’t involve what you will “feel” on a mattress, and help with “how” to choose but only you can decide which specific mattress, manufacturer, or combination of materials is “best for you” regardless of the name of the manufacturer on the label or whether anyone else (including me) would have the same criteria or circumstances or would make the same choice.