As the importance of environmentally friendly, safe, and nontoxic products has continued to grow in the public consciousness over the last decade, there's been an influx of organic mattresses introduced to the market. Which is a great thing! But it can also make it hard to choose the best organic mattress for you, especially since many of the brands out there offer similar products with similar claims of comfort and sustainability.
Recently, after years of sleeping on a memory foam mattress and deciding I wanted something more eco-friendly, my husband and I took the plunge and upgraded to the Birch mattress, a hybrid latex mattress made of a combination of innerspring coils and all-natural latex, wrapped up in an organic wool and cotton cover.
If you're considering the Birch mattress for yourself, or are debating a variety of different organic mattress models, read on for my full review. I've covered everything from its earth-friendly specs, to what it smells like out of the package, to how a latex hybrid compares to a standard memory foam bed-in-a-box.
Who will the Birch mattress suit?
- Those looking for an eco-friendly mattress option. The biggest reason the Birch mattress made my list and one of the biggest reasons most people will be drawn to it is because of what it's made of. The materials include Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified cotton, OEKO-TEX Certified and Rainforest Alliance certified latex, and organic wool certified by the PGC Wrightson Wool Integrity Program, which ensures wool is sourced from free-range, pasture-fed sheep. The mattress is also Greenguard Gold certified and free of chemical flame retardants. (Note, however, that the latex is not GOLS certified.)
- Back and stomach sleepers. The Birch mattress is on the firmer end of medium, which makes it ideal for back and stomach sleepers. I tend to sleep on my stomach but was 8 months pregnant when this mattress first came, so I'd been sleeping on my side. I find it a little firm for side sleeping, however, it's still more comfortable than my previous memory foam mattress, and find myself tossing and turning a lot less because my arm isn't falling asleep constantly. My husband, who sleeps on his back, says it provides excellent pressure relief.
- Hot sleepers: One of the reasons I wanted to ditch my memory foam mattress is because I was so sick of being hot at night. I'm a hot sleeper by nature, so I constantly woke up overheating (my husband who is not a hot sleeper, never experienced this problem with memory foam). We'd had a Tempurpedic mattress for years, then later switched to the Yoga Bed, and both were too hot for me. Because the Birch mattress has a coil base, it allows for greater airflow and I find myself feeling much cooler, even in the dead of summer when we first got the mattress.
- Paired-up sleepers: I was initially concerned about a hybrid mattress because my husband and I have always had memory foam mattresses, which offer excellent motion transfer (i.e. you can't feel your partner toss and turn all night like you can with a hybrid.) However, to my surprise, the Birch mattress actually offers better motion transfer than our old memory foam version. I chalk it up to the fact that it takes a lot less effort to roll over in bed. Seriously. I sometimes felt like I was sinking into my memory foam mattress, so I needed some inertia to roll over. That's not the case with the Birch mattress.
- Those with back pain. One of the last straws for our old mattress was that my husband was waking up with back and neck pain almost every morning for weeks -- and it'd started to impact his golf game (gasp!). Since getting the Birch mattress, his pain has nearly vanished, and he's stopped waking up in the middle of the night.
Birch mattress design and construction
My first impression of the Birch mattress, looks-wise was "now, this is a mattress." It just looks sturdy, high-quality, and well-made right out of the package, especially compared to the simple, relatively inexpensive memory foam mattress I'd been sleeping on. The fabric is dye-free, the mattress heavy, and the stitching is reinforced and sturdy. It's something that will last decades.
Materials are the pride of organic mattresses, so it's not surprising that everything the Birch mattress is made from is top-quality. Here's a glance at what's in it:
- A cover, made from natural, organic, GOTS-Certified cotton
- A layer of natural wool and rayon provide chemical-free fire retardation
- A comfort layer of organic wool, which helps regulate temperature
- Natural Talalay latex that boasts OEKO-TEX, eco-INSTITUT, and Rainforest Alliance certifications, but isn't GOLS-certified
- Steel coils, plus reinforced steel perimeter coils which help with edge support
- A fire retardant base layer, also made from wool and rayon
What's the Birch mattress like to sleep on?
Overall, I'd give the Birch mattress 4.5/ 5 stars for comfort. My husband, who prefers a firmer mattress, gives it 5/5.
It's definitely on the firm side of medium, but this is standard for latex hybrid mattresses in this category. Almost all of them fall into the medium-firm or 'luxury-firm' category.
Coming from a memory foam mattress, sleeping on the Birch mattress was definitely a different experience at first. The first thing I noticed was the edge support on the Birch mattress. It's far superior to any memory foam mattress I've slept on, in that when you sit on the bed you feel, well, supported, and not like you're about to sink down and slide off of it. After reading further into the Birch mattress, I learned that the edges are made with reinforced steel coils, which makes perfect sense.
The motion transfer was another big change coming from memory foam. As I mentioned, I was originally concerned that I would feel my 6' 4" husband move around during the night, but to my surprise that hasn't been the case at all. In my opinion, the motion transfer is actually better than a memory foam mattress. I chalk that up to a few things:
- It's a hybrid mattress, so the latex layer still absorbs motion better than a standard coil mattress
- It's easier to roll over on a hybrid mattress than a foam one since you don't get 'stuck' in the mattress as much
- A general better quality of sleep. I'm sleeping better at night since the mattress sleeps cooler than my old one, and my husband is also sleeping better since the mattress is more supportive.
This is probably my favorite part about this mattress compared to my old one. Memory foam, even the cooling kind, sleeps hot. The Birch mattress, on the other hand, does not. I felt a noticeable difference in my comfort level immediately due to this alone, so if you're a fellow hot sleeper looking to ditch the sweaty foam, this is a good choice.
Plush mattress topper
We tried this mattress both on its own, and with the Birch Organic Mattress Topper, a 3" thick plush pillow top that's supposed to give the mattress a softer feel for those who prefer something a little more plush, like myself. To be totally honest, while I do prefer the mattress with the topper, I don't notice a *huge* difference in the firmness of the mattress with the pillow top. It feels about the same to me with or without it, so if you're on the fence, I'd give the mattress a shot without it, first.
Ordering, delivery, and warranty
The Birch mattress must be ordered online. It's made to order, which means shipping takes a bit longer than some of the other online mattress companies. However, all things considered, delivery was still pretty quick. I got the mattress within two weeks of placing the order. The mattress topper was delivered separately a few days later.
The delivery process itself was easy - our king-sized mattress came vacuum packed in a box about 4ft tall, and was left on our front steps. It is fairly heavy, so if you're on the smaller side, you'll likely need someone to help you lift it.
Once we got the mattress inside, we set it on the foundation and cut the packaging, which allows the mattress to expand. It's a good idea to make sure your nightstands, kids, and pets are pulled out of the way while you unbox since we ended up knocking over a table lamp while we were opening our mattress. It expanded super quickly, and we slept on the mattress that night.
One important thing to note if you've never slept on an organic mattress (I hadn't), is the smell. It definitely doesn't have any sort of chemical smell like a typical mattress, which is awesome. But! It does have a smell that's, well, organic. It smells like wool, which was something that took me a little time to get used to at first, and eventually began to fade away. Again, I was also 8 months pregnant when we got this mattress, and super sensitive to smells. My husband barely noticed the smell. My three-year-old said it smelled like chocolate. All of these, to me, are better than sleeping on a mattress that you can smell off-gassing.
Like most direct-to-consumer mattress brands, the Birch mattress comes with a lengthy trial period (100 nights) and a long warranty (10 years). It's not the longest in the mattress industry, but it gives you plenty of time to figure out if you like the mattress, and plenty of time to replace it should any defects occur.
Is the Birch mattress worth the money?
It sure is. I've been thrilled with the construction of this mattress, the comfort right out of the box, and the improvement in the quality of my sleep. Plus, knowing that I'm sleeping on something that's responsibly manufactured in the USA, and made from sustainable materials is worth the extra cost of this mattress.