Sometimes products with the label ‘organic’ can be misleading. From groceries to beauty products, everyone is using the term ‘organic’ to woo the customer. Now the same term is being used in the mattress industry as well. Though this term is quite popular in the Western world, it is slowly penetrating the Indian mattress market. Organic or Hybrid mattress is not a new banter in the market these days as it has been an old soft combat between the consumer and the seller for the sale and purchase of the mattress.

Organic Mattress- that sounded like an oxymoron for both customers and producers for a long stretch of time. But
this decade has shaken and shuffled, a lot of the material that makes a mattress. It is not a coincidence that the global organic bedding market size has been slated to touch $1.1 billion by 2025. The report from Grand View Research, Inc. attributed this growth to increasing demand for high-end bedding products that have brought an impact of change in lifestyle as well as growing awareness about the importance of sleep and its role in health.

That’s what is, supposedly, encouraging consumers to invest in quality products, especially mattresses and bed linens. There is also a noticeable importance for organic sheets with cooling attributes. They are made with low thread count such that fabric is more breathable by adding natural fibres such as bamboo. Analysts expect that new product developments will witness growth in the product by 2025. It has been seen that companies are focusing on expanding their production capacity and are adopting innovative technologies so that they can match consumer demand for organic bedding.

What is Organic mattress?

An organic mattress is those mattresses which uses natural materials such as wool, cotton, and other natural fibres for mattress manufacturing.

Usually, it is said that an organic mattress is better for the environment, however, there are certain other parameters that need to be considered while manufacturing an organic mattress. That burden, or blessing, actually falls in the lap of the customer. People can make the best decisions about what kind of mattress is right for them and their families. This has been spelt out clearly in a report by Made Safe in September 2018 by Sydney Cook and Cassidy Randall, experts in Environmental Studies.

Pros and Cons of Organic material

Let’s start with organic cotton – the easiest alternative to foam. The same cushion and softness as mattresses.

Cotton: Organic Cotton material is a natural product which is said to be ideal for those with Allergies, Chemical Sensitivities and Asthmatic tendencies. However, they sometimes are the main cause of such diseases as dust mites and other microorganisms can easily reside in them. Another disadvantage of cotton mattresses is that they absorb moisture at night and also become shapeless in some time. This will make a person feel uncomfortable while sleeping since the sleeping surface of the mattress becomes uneven and saggy.

Bamboo: Then there is Bamboo. Bamboo fabric has been explained as similar to the softness of silk. There is minimal chemical treatment, and they are also hypoallergenic and great for those who experience allergic reactions to other natural fibres like wool or hemp. Plus, it is antibacterial and anti-fungal due to the presence of Bamboo Kun. The natural cooling property of the bamboo plant is also maintained in its fabric form. If we see a cross-section of bamboo, we see micro-gaps that bestow the fabric with better moisture absorption and ventilation. It is also believed that bamboo fabric is 100 percent bio-degradable, anti-static and UV protective – cutting 98 percent of harmful UV rays.

Though the bamboo mattress has a lot of advantages, it is said that it comes with its own disadvantages too. Since Bamboo is a natural product, demand for such natural products is high in the market, making Bamboo mattresses an expensive product compared to other mattresses. Meanwhile, Bamboo mattress requires gentle care and needs sophisticated handling. The bamboo mattress also needs regular cleaning.

The significant market growth for organic mattress is attributed to increasing demand for high-end bedding products impacted by the growing inclination towards luxurious lifestyles among consumers

Wool: Let’s now consider another option -Wool. It can be used in many different parts of mattresses– inside and out. You can have pillow tops filled with wool, coils wrapped with wool textiles, supportive wool filling in the bulk of the mattresses, in the mattress cover, and so on. Wool helps to naturally regulate body temperature, by effectively circulating air within the material.

However, wool mattresses have some limitations. This mattress is not for those who like or prefer hard sleeping surfaces. It requires a lot of maintenance every season. And some are allergic to wool.

And the preference for organic alternatives makes a good product strategy for mattress companies. Panchami Mistry, Associate Professor Fashion Design Department, National Institute of Fashion Technology agrees that mattresses can start using organic materials. “Yes, it does matter as it reduces the use of poly-material or synthetic material which adds to the environmental carbon footprint. She cites how the medical industry uses coir mattresses, water beds, etc.; and explains the practical distinction in detail. “Organic materials, when widely used provide sustainability to the environment and reduce stress on other resources for example, when hybrid cotton is grown in farms; it makes soil hard and cannot be used to grow other crops, this leads to a decline in the value of the soil. It also uses much more resources than organic cotton. Sustainability was an integral part of early life and this happened naturally without much effort.”

All that smells good is not rose

But even with organic materials, there are some caution areas and concerns. What if wool is sourced by being reckless about animal welfare? What if the cotton that’s inside a natural mattress is actually coming after going through pesticides? What if the Bamboo is harming a forest so that it can be stuffed inside a mattress?

There are other downsides too. Organic material in the current market does come at a higher price point as there is lesser demand for it, adds Panchami Mistry, Associate Professor Fashion Design Department, National Institute of Fashion Technology “But if the demand and supply for the same increase then the price shall become much more affordable for everyone. Talking of environmental effects, organic materials are better for the forests and animals as they do not create any negative impact and can easily degrade into soil post-use. Any synthetic material, when consumed by animals or buried into the earth will lead to issues of health for that entity and in the long term causes many more issues.”

Hybrid Mattress as an alternative

An organic mattress is a more compelling option for sure. Natural materials are emerging as a compelling trend. Whether one is making or consuming an apparently-natural mattress, one has to make sure that it is natural in the very essence and its domino effect over the environment over a long horizon too. Just putting another label can help us with a tick in the box, but will it let us sleep without environmental guilt – that’s the new question now. And it’s totally organic.

In order to address this issue, mattress manufacturers are moving towards a hybrid option. Hybrid mattresses are a combination of organic material and the convenience of foam and innerspring mattresses. A hybrid mattress is preferred because it provides the best comfort for every individual. Since each individual is unique and his sleep requirement is also unique, a Hybrid mattress can be customised easily as per his/her requirement. Hybrid mattresses are considered a value-for-money kind of product. Hybrid mattress contains eco-friendly materials that are seen as a healthy option for improving the sleep health of every individual.

Hybrid mattresses use materials which are intended to provide comfort to the sleeper. As Sleep Foundation puts it, the comfort system of a hybrid can be made with numerous layers and combinations of materials. Pocketed micro-coils can be used for coil-on-coil construction. Memory foam, polyfoam, latex, and textile fabrics can all be employed as well. Hybrids can vary significantly, reflecting the enormous number of ways that a comfort system can be constructed. Most hybrids utilize more than one of these materials to generate a multi-faceted feel that can cushion the body without losing bounce or edge support from the underlying coils. Additionally, many hybrids are offered a choice of firmness levels, letting customers elect the feel that best suits their preferences.

Every human is unique

The way sleep is essential for the human body so is the sleeping surface. The right mattress can make all the difference between a sound sleep and a sleepless night. A good mattress offers a perfect balance of required comfort and support, keeping the natural spinal alignment and body posture in place, thus significantly enhancing the quality of Sleep.

Human beings are accustomed to sleeping on a firm surface driven by the dogma that a firm surface ensures perfect back support. However, the truth is that an ideal sleeping surface should be a perfect blend of comfort and support unique to every individual’s body type and sleeping preferences of Organic or Hybrid mattresses.

The way Sleep is important for us, and the mattress also plays an important role in better health. Since there is a lot of advancement in mattresses, consumers can buy from a wide spectrum of customised products available in the market. However, they first need to understand their unique body type and their personal preference for a sleeping
surface in terms of firmness, touch and feel, colour, size, etc.

The relationship between mattress quality and sleep is almost directly proportional and both complement each other. Today’s modern mattresses allow greater customization and personalization of experience based on customer requirements. Mattress companies are taking at most care while selecting materials that go inside a mattress to make sure the customer gets the best and safe product. After all, mattress companies are in the mattress business to help people sleep better.

ISPF is an industry body which promotes importance of sleep and role of mattress for a Indian consumers. ISPF plays very important role in connecting Indian bedding industry ecosystem. ISPF also acts as bridge between India and international players.