Bed dressing is an art form that has been passed down from ancient times – some of the first evidence of bed-like structures is found in South Africa and dates back to about 77,000 B.C. Over the centuries bedding materials have ranged from straw and hides to velvet and woven gold, but the main purpose has remained the same: comfort. Here at Lifekind we get lots of calls from customers who want to know what kind of bedding they should get and why.
Proper bed dressing is important because not only can it improve the overall feeling of the bed, it can also extend the life of your mattress. The picture below shows the ideal bedding configuration. Since it usually works best to start at the bottom and work your way up, we will start with the underbed pad.
The purpose of the underbed pad is to keep your mattress in good shape so that it can continue to provide you with the best possible sleep for years to come. A thick wool pad is an ideal way to protect the underside of your mattress from rubbing against wood bed slats or exposed metal hardware. Furthermore, a wool underbed pad will protect the underside of your mattress from dust build-up and can even help prevent mold and mildew from forming on parts of the mattress that get less airflow (wool is naturally dust-mite resistant and has the ability to wick away excess moisture).
If a wool pad offers protection for the bottom of your mattress, it only makes sense that wool would protect the top, too! Many mattress pads are made of synthetic materials, which may prevent spills from leaking onto your mattress, but can also prevent your mattress and your skin from breathing. We believe a wool moisture protector pad is the best way to start dressing the side of the bed you actually sleep on. This pad is meant to protect both you and your mattress – wool wicks away excess moisture from your skin (guarding against overheating and skin irritation) and at the same time creates a water-resistant barrier between you and the mattress (preventing mold, mildew, stains, etc.).
Next comes the flannel mattress pad. Many people are somewhat confused by the concept of needing both a moisture barrier and an all-purpose mattress pad (I know I was when I first heard of it), but with time I have come to realize that these two are like my favorite Jack Johnson song – it’s always better when they’re together. While a wool moisture pad provides a perfect water-resistant barrier, a flannel mattress pad acts as a sponge and gives pesky spills a place to go, rather than leaking into the mattress. The mattress pad is also one of those accessories that can change the feel of your mattress – either for better or for worse. We recommend a loose-fitting pad that is made from natural fibers (cotton flannel is awesome). These two rules of thumb will ensure that the pad is breathable and that it does not make your mattress feel taught (the “trampoline” effect).
The next layers – and possibly the most important ones of all – are the sheets. The reason why sheets are so important is that they are usually closest to your skin. Keeping in mind the fact that most people spend roughly one-third of their lives in bed, it is important to choose sheets that are free of dyes, chemicals and synthetics. Organic cotton is our best suggestion because it fits this standard of purity while also boasting breathability and washability! Dust mites feed on skin cells (and our entire epidermis is replaced within a period of about 48 days), so keeping your sheets clean is the key to protecting your entire bed from these icky invaders.
When it comes to blankets, layers are the key! By choosing breathable materials and doubling (or even tripling) up, you get a cozy bed that can easily be adjusted with changing weather. Comforters are prime suspects when it comes to finding synthetic fillings and chemical additives in your bedding. Wool offers a much safer and more comfortable alternative with its natural flame resistance and temperature regulation. Top it off with an organic cotton duvet cover and – voila! You’ve got a bed that’s “dressed to the nines.”