Be glad you’re not sleeping on a pile of leaves tonight.

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Recently, 77,000-year-old bedding was discovered in a South African rock shelter. At 6 feet long and 3 feet wide, the sleep surface was roughly the size of today’s twin XL bed. Layers of grasses and sedges made up the core, which was topped with tree leaves from a laurel tree (sometimes used to ward off mosquitoes).

Leaves, grasses and other wild materials were the not-so-comfortable beds of yesteryear, until the mattress arrived. Yet, some old-fashioned ways are worth reviving – including all-natural materials such as wool.

Organic goods

Sensitive to chemicals, dust mites and other environmental issues? Or just intrigued by sustainable sleep? Green mattress options include natural and organic bedding.

Natural mattresses are made with plant-based fibers, including wool, cotton, soy, flax, silk and botanical latex, which comes from tropical rubber trees. Natural fibers are biodegradable (they break down naturally and quickly, upon disposal) and renewable (wool is a resource that can be reused and replaced naturally). Organic mattresses typically contain certified-organic products, in both the fiber filling and the woven shell.

Many consumers are now counting sheep, as well; wool is being used in both mattress making and in bedding, such as comforters and blankets. Mattresses featuring wool may be quilted into the top, along with other natural fibers, creating a soft sleep substance that’s dry, temperature regulating and sleep inducing.

“When you weigh yourself in the morning, you’ll weigh a pint less, because you’ve perspired overnight,” says Blake Garfield, general manager at Bedrooms & More in Seattle. That sweat is soaked up by your bedding as you toss and turn, trying to keep cool (then warm) (then cool again).

The combination of moisture and heat can be a big problem, Garfield says. Warm in winter and cool in summer, wool helps regulate temperature by wicking away moisture and heat from the human body. This can reduce wake time.

Wool-filled toppers can be added to any type of existing mattress, for additional temperature benefits, softness and pressure relief. These toppers are typically filled with premium wool to provide maximum loft (or height), and quilted or tufted to prevent the material shifting that can happen with any fiber.

These natural sleep boosters can be washable, so any wicked sweat won’t hang around. But the old-fashioned way works too – airing it in the sun to deodorize the wool and freshen the loft.

Wool acts as a natural fire barrier and doesn’t sustain flame, thereby negating any need for fire-retardant treatments or chemicals. Wool is strong and durable as a fiber, and is hypoallergenic – or resistant to bacteria, mold and mildew.

Tonight, you may hit the hay, or hit the sack – both common sayings come from an era when mattresses were stuffed with straw or hay, a far cry from today’s natural, sustainable fibers.

Over the past 45 years, Bedrooms & More has become the Pacific Northwest’s bedrooms destination store. There’s no hard sell. No wheeling and dealing. Just good people helping good people create the safe, relaxing bedrooms they want.