Glossary from A to Z


Anatomic, human anatomy

The term ‘anatomy’ refers to the specific and individual shapes and bodily structures of human beings. In order to prevent difficulties sleeping, it is imperative to consider human anatomy when manufacturing a good natural mattress. So that we can sleep well a good mattress should be made to accommodate anatomical characteristics such as weight, breadth of shoulders and hips. By allowing for an even distribution of pressure, pains and aches can be avoided from the start. Essentially by pairing good quality and healthy raw materials with the correct manufacturing techniques many painful problems - that would ordinarily occur simply as a consequence of the pressure exerted by your own body weight – can be averted.

All-point Elasticity

All-point elasticity is an important criterium when deciding which natural mattress to buy. By all-point elasticity we mean the – ideally proportionate – ability of a mattress to receive pressure, i.e. weight, when you lie on it. To put it simply: in an ideal world the way your body sinks into a mattress should spread your weight evenly. This way your shoulders and lower back can be optimally supported and tension is relieved. In this respect, 100% natural latex is far superior to cold foams or metal-sprung mattresses as it is naturally all-point elastic and retains its shape very well.


Balancing of Micro-Climate

When we refer to balancing the micro-climate in our sleeping environment, we need to look at both the bedroom and the bed. Human beings are dependent on regular intake and excretion of water. Each night we lose about 750ml of water (that is roughly the content of a normal bottle of water). We release this water back into our environment through our kidney and bladder or, in the form of steam, through our skin and breathing. In order for this water to remain in steam form and not to convert into sweat, which may wake us up, it is important that we surround ourselves with materials that can absorb moisture and temporarily trap it. This can best be achieved with natural materials such as fine pure new wool or camelhair or with plant fibres. Synthetic materials such as polyester or polyamide are not at all good at this even though they are very commonly used in mattresses and duvets. It goes without saying that this is not the case at dormiente. It follows that the best materials to use in your bedroom are those made from natural fibres. This is particularly true for mattresses, duvets and pillows, but also for the upholstery used in box-spring beds or sleep sofas as these materials play a large role in determining the micro-climate in your environment.


Duvets – quilting pattern

In an ideal case a duvet consists of an outer cover that is densely woven, feels pleasant on the skin and contains high quality filling materials. The duvet should provide comfortable warmth but prevent excessive perspiration. It should provide a cosy, dry and warm micro-climate and hence create the optimal sleeping environment. We believe that the best filling materials are made of natural fibres and animal hair. Particularly natural materials such as camelhair or finest merino wool have stood the test of time. Natural hairs create a healthy, comfortable micro-climate for the animal they protect and balance its body temperature. These are the same characteristics one should be looking for in duvets with natural filling materials. To prevent the filling from sliding and clumping within the duvet and to ensure the filling is evenly distributed, it has to be quilted into the outer fabric. This can be done very simply or with more thought and effort. More sophisticated – and hence more expensive - ways of quilting can bring out the specific qualities and benefits of the filling materials used and can enclose them to better effect. This is an aspect you should consider when choosing a new duvet.


By Duo-Duvet we mean a single duvet that consists of two distinct filling layers separated in the middle by fine gauze liner. Each of these layers are quilted into their respective outer covers so that in the centre an air-filled cavity is created. This cavity has powerful insulating properties. Ideally, this duvet should be made from pure natural raw materials which will enhance its functionality. A warm, cosy sleeping environment is the result.

Dust Mite Allergy

Strictly speaking, this allergy is not a reaction to dust mites but to the excrements they produce. Dust mites are ubiquitous in our environment and they thrive in areas that are warm and damp, such as beds. These microscopic spider-like animals live off tiny flakes of our skin which we shed on a daily basis. A dust mite allergy can cause inflammation of the skin, itching but also severe asthma attacks. The best approach in the fight against dust mites is the regular cleaning of bed and mattress. If you have a confirmed dust mite allergy we recommend to stick to natural bedding and mattresses made from plant fibres, as animal hairs are more attractive to dust mites. Upon request dormiente can treat mattresses with a Milbex solution. Milbex is the trade name of a spray made from neem oil. Neem oil acts as a natural insecticide and is derived from the Indian neem tree. After some time, the neem oil evaporates and the treatment loses its effect. It will then need to be re-applied.

Divan Beds

Divan beds refer to bed frames with textile upholstery. Usually, the actual frame is ‘hidden’ underneath a textile cover. Box-spring beds are a variety of divans. There are big qualitative differences when it comes to divans and - as you normally cannot see the base construction underneath the textile covering - it is difficult to spot these differences. To save costs the base is often made from plywood or chipboard which of course is far less strong than a frame constructed from solid wood. The upholstery is often made with cheap polyester fleeces. This may give shape and volume to the divan but does not do anything to create a healthy sleep environment, as is the case with pure new wool. Also, the cover fabrics, that give the divan beds their special look, are often made from synthetic materials. When in direct contact with the skin, they are neither comfortable nor do they help to create a healthy micro-climate in the bedroom. Buying an inexpensive box-spring bed is often a saving you come to regret. The metal-sprung base of such a bed will immediately affect the quality of your sleep, both in terms of the environment it creates but more directly in terms of not being able to fulfil orthopaedic requirements during sleep. So, if you are in the market for buying a new divan bed, please have a good look at the inner values of the bed you are considering.

Disc frame

Classic slatted bases are made with slats, in the form of single, double or triple spring elements, that run horizontally over the width of the bed frame. The slats can be made from various materials such as ply-wood or plastic. As slats have to provide sprung support over the entire width of the bed, new versions have been developed that can offer more targeted support. Disc slats use discs rather than horizontal slats, which provide more effective all-point support and are better able to accommodate specific areas of the body. Discs are made from wood or plastic and can move in all directions. They can hence yield more easily to the shape of the body, a property which is particularly effective in conjunction with mattresses made from natural latex.



In its basic form ergonomy looks at the routines and patterns of human work and activity with reference to the workflow and working conditions. Its aim is to improve these to the benefit of human beings. In the area of healthy sleep this concretely means designing natural mattresses, bed frames, box-spring beds and bedding such as pillows, duvets, slats and slat-systems so that they take account of and benefit the physiological characteristics of human beings. This attitude informs all dormiente products.


Electro-smog refers to the electro-magnetic radiation - both low and high-frequency - people are exposed to. The sources for this radiation pollution can by manifold: power lines, radio and TV transmitting stations, mobile phone masts, but also everyday household equipment such as Bluetooth-enabled products, micro-waves or other remote-control equipment. Strong electro-magnetic fields and radiation are associated with sleep problems. In some instances, they are suspected of having an adverse impact on people’s metabolism. We are of the opinion that electro-magnetic smog has no place in the bedroom. We therefore avoid using any ingredients in our products that could potentially enhance electro-magnetic fields, such as metal springs for mattresses.

Evaporation chill

To convert liquid, e.g. water, into gas energy has to be expended. When we sweat the water on our skin is converted into gas by the heat we have generated. The water evaporates and, having taken away the heat from our skin, produces a chill which in turn cools us down.



The Fairtrade Organization is the result of various social-justice movements coming together and looking at ways of guaranteeing fair pay to producers of raw materials. Particularly in developing nations this aims to prevent small-scale farmers from sliding into poverty. Products that are made according to Fairtrade standards can be awarded the Fairtrade logo. This is an important mark which allows the consumer to tell under which conditions a product has been grown or made.


A mattress’ level of firmness is an important criterion when deciding what type of mattress to buy. This is independent on whether you sleep on your front, side or back. The level of firmness indicates how soft or firm a mattress feels. Even when purchasing a box-spring bed or a sleep sofa you should make enquiries as to their degree of firmness. Unfortunately, there are no universally agreed firmness standards. Each manufacturer has their own system. Often you will find a firmness scale of 1-5, with level 1 describing a rather soft mattress and level 5 a firm mattress. Body weight is often used to help determine which firmness level is suitable for the user. Generally speaking, level 1 is recommended for body weights up to 60kg. If you are 140kg or heavier level 5 is suggested. However, we believe that body weight alone is not a sufficient indicator. This is because it does not take account of your body shape and your individual habits and preferences. It can only ever be a rough guide, just as it is likely that a very heavy person will not sleep well on a very soft mattress and in turn, a very light person will find a rock-hard mattress uncomfortable. This example alone demonstrates that there is no such thing as a mattress that suits everyone. Even though many mattress suppliers, particularly those selling on-line, like making this claim. The specialist retailer is and remains the go to place in order to find the right mattress that works for you. There you will find people with the expertise and experience needed to help you select the right mattress, taking into account more than just your body weight. And the level of firmness will be only one of many aspects considered.


In Japan futons are a traditional base to sleep on. Generally, a futon is made from pure cotton and placed on a tatami rice-fibre mat. These traditional futons are made up of various layers of cotton lint fleece and create a firm but supportive foundation to sleep on. With use they usually become firmer and stiffer because cotton, when used as a fleece, does not have the elasticity of other materials and tends to compact.



Natural latex that is produced according to certain ecological and social criteria is referred to as GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standards) latex. Natural latex is harvested on rubber tree plantations hence it is predominantly the cultivation of the latex that is looked at. At this point in time, there is very limited amounts of GOLS latex available.


GOTS stands for Global Organic Textile Standard. The GOTS logo guarantees that strict ecological and social criteria were adhered to in the cultivation and processing of textiles fibres, e.g., turning cotton into cotton fabric.


Loose Filled Pillows

Unlike a shaped pillow, these pillows contain a loose filling of various raw materials which can be varied in density and can also be replaced. For loose filled pillows natural raw materials such as pure new wool, kapok fibres or natural latex flakes - by themselves or mixed - are ideal. The great benefit of these pillows is that they can be individually adapted and the filling can be topped up or replaced at a later date.


Milbex Treatment

Milbex is the trade name of a spray made from neem oil. Upon request dormiente can treat mattresses with a Milbex solution. Neem oil acts as a natural insecticide and is derived from the Indian neem tree.

Motor Slats

The term motor slats describes bed slats where the head and foot part can be electronically lifted and their position adjusted. The motor functions can be attached to different places in the slats. Please make sure you have all the information you need regarding the dimensions of the slats to make sure they will actually fit into your bed frame. Modern motor slats are equipped with a quick release button and an on-demand circuit breaker.


Natural Fibre Duvets

Natural duvets are filled with natural plant fibres or natural animal hairs. The filing materials are mainly pure new wool from various sources, camelhair, yak hair, cashmere or alpaca wool and various plant fibres such as cotton or kapok. The fine fibres are cleaned and made into a fleece which is then inserted into a duvet fabric. Ideally this fabric should be made from high quality, fine cotton. A good quality duvet should be able to create a very balanced and healthy micro-climate. In other words, it should keep you dry and warm but should also be able to absorb moisture so a comfortable sleeping environment is the result. A sophisticated quilting technique enhances the beneficial properties of the various natural fibres and can even increase the longevity of the duvet.

Natural Caoutchouc

Natural caoutchouc is the source for natural rubber. It is derived from the milky sap of the rubber tree (hevea brasiliensis) which we know as latex. In chemical terms latex is a polyisoprene. In its raw state rubber is malleable. By undergoing a vulcanisation process is becomes elastic, giving rubber the permanently elastic property it is associated with. With reference to mattress production we use the term natural latex. Here we concentrate the sap of the rubber tree – which contains approx. 25-35% natural caoutchouc – froth it up with air and then submit it to a vulcanisation process. The result is a natural latex core that can be used in mattresses.

Natural mattresses

A mattress is called a ‘natural mattress’ if it has been made using only natural materials. The reasons for using natural materials are self-evident:

  1. Natural materials are often technically far superior to synthetic materials, for instance in how they balance micro-climate (pure new wool) or in terms of their elasticity (natural latex), and therefore help us to attain healthy sleep.
  2. Natural materials on the whole require less inputs and are less resource intensive than materials derived from petroleum such as cold foam or polyether.
  3. Natural materials have a better ecological footprint not only in terms of their production but also their disposal.
  4. Natural materials are far more beneficial than synthetically made materials (plastics) in terms of their effect on human health.
  5. Natural materials, due to their specific properties, are far superior than synthetic materials when in direct contact with the body.

Most mattresses, however, are made from synthetic, artificially derived materials such as cold foams, polyether foams for the core and polyester or polyamide fleeces for the upholstery. For cover materials predominantly polyester based fabrics are used.


Outer Cover

Every mattress possesses an outer cover that encloses the mattress core. This cover generally consists of an outer fabric that can be quilted on the inside with a variety of different materials. Both the outer fabric and the quilting can be made from natural or synthetic raw materials. A good quality outer fabric should improve the sensation of comfort during sleep but also needs to create a healthy and balanced micro-climate. Dormiente only make covers using natural materials such as pure cotton, finest merino wool or camelhair. We are of the opinion that these materials are far better suited to creating a comfortable and healthy sleep environment than synthetic materials such as polyester or polyamide. When choosing a new natural mattress it is therefore very important to pay close attention to what the outer cover is made of. A lot of manufacturers of cheaper mattresses like to cut corners here.



By pollutant we generally mean a substance that has a negative impact on human health or the environment or has the capacity to alter the ecological equilibrium of our surroundings. Many pollutants are used in agriculture, e.g. to combat pests:

  • Insecticides and pesticides to kill insects
  • Fungicides to kill fungi/moulds
  • Herbicides to kill unwanted plants (such as weeds

Chemical substances that kill living organisms are generally referred to as biocides. The plants that are subjected to chemical sprays, usually to increase the yield, often retain residues of the chemical substances used. These residues can be harmful to human health and in some cases may even be carcinogenic. Excessive use of fertiliser can also be regarded as a polluting behaviour. Particularly, when the fertiliser finds its way into bodies of water that, as a result, see their ecological equilibrium upset and all life forms within it killed. The same can also happen to soil that has been fertilised excessively or soil that is depleted due to monocultural farming. Dormiente tests all raw materials used in its manufacturing processes for over 250 pollutants. This is how we can guarantee a healthy and ecologically sound sleep to our customers.


Polyester is a synthetic material and is often used for textiles. It is made using petroleum and can be produced very cheaply. It appeals as a fabric because it is very durable and requires little maintenance. From an ecological perspective polyester is problematic. It cannot bio-degrade and therefore ends up in landfills at the end of its life.


Polyamide is also a synthetic material and is available in many versions. Most people will have heard of it under trade names such as Nylon or Perlon. Polyamides are very strong textiles and very stable when in contact with chemical solvents. They are often used to make toothbrushes, tights and so on. Fleeces made from polyamide are often used in the upholstery of mattresses. They are very resistant and make attractive looking quilting layers. The air trapped in these layers gives them very good insulation properties. Unfortunately, just like polyester, polyamides cannot absorb moisture as they are unable to connect with water molecules.

Purity seal

It is more than 30 years ago that dormiente were the first to come up with the Purity Seal: strictly tested for chemical pollutants. This purity seal denotes that all raw materials used by dormiente are constantly tested for chemical residues. It is the way we can guarantee that only clean and pure raw materials make it into our finished products. The tests to establish the purity of the raw materials are undertaken by independent labs. Because we have been on this quest for so long our demands have started filtering down to our suppliers and to shape the standards and quality of their raw materials. The purity seal is therefore a bit like our own internal quality management.


Quick Release Button

A quick release button is necessary with motor slats - where the head and foot part can be electronically adjusted - in case there is an interruption in the electricity supply. This function makes it possible to reset the slats into their original position and therefore enables comfortable and safe sleeping and getting in and out of bed.


Roll-up slats

Usually roll-up slats are made from either solid wooden slats or slats made from beech plywood. These slats are integrated into a woven band, in dormiente’s case, a woven band made from 100% cotton. These slats are then rolled-out onto the bed base. Roll-up slats are one of the simpler and less expensive ways of creating an effective mattress base in a bed frame. They also allow for the crucial circulation of air.


Shaped Pillows

These are pillows that contain a pre-moulded core and are often used as orthopaedic support pillows. They can be made from synthetic materials, e.g., polyether or polyurethane. However, dormiente strongly believe that synthetic materials have no place in the bed room. We therefore manufacture shaped pillows using cores made from natural latex derived from the rubber tree.

Sleeping on your front

When talking about lying down and sleeping we distinguish between 3 different position: sleeping on your front, your side or your back. Depending on our physical constitution and individual preference we all favour – in a more or less modified version – one of these 3 positions. It is important to establish which of these positions applies to you when selecting a new mattress so that this mattress can optimally support your body. Purely from an anatomic perspective, a mattress for someone who sleeps on their front should be firmer rather than softer. Sometimes it is a physical characteristic, for instance a big belly, that prevents people from sleeping on their front and that causes them to adopt positions that are less than optimal. This can cause problems during sleep. If, however, the anatomic characteristics are identified and competently discussed prior to the purchase of a new mattress, you will be able to select the mattress that is just right for you.

Sleeping on one’s back

If a person mainly sleeps on their back, he/she will be referred to as a back sleeper. From an orthopaedic perspective, back or side sleepers generally require mattresses that are yielding and responsive, such as those made from natural latex. This is different if you are primarily sleeping on your front. In this case a firmer surface is more beneficial.

Sleep Sofa

A sleep sofa is a combination of a bed and seating furniture. Using different techniques, you can quickly turn a sofa into a bed. Sleep sofas are often used as guest beds. Just like divans or box-spring beds, a variety of materials are used to upholster and cover sleep sofas. We use natural materials such as pure new wool, horsehair or cotton in our dormiente sleep sofas.


Wardrobes, chests of drawers or night tables that have drawers which close gently and quietly are known as having soft-close fittings.

Sprung slats

A mattress base that has an elastic spring is referred to as sprung slats. This can take the form of wooden slats, disc slats or the specially designed System 7, a highly effective spring base, exclusive to dormiente. Sprung slats also form the base of divans or box-spring beds.

Swiss Pine Disc Frame

Please also see information listed under ‘disc frame’. Swiss Pine disc frames are made from pure, untreated Swiss Pine timber. The timber is made into disc-shapes which are very responsive and yielding and therefore can offer excellent support when used as a base particularly for natural latex mattresses.

Synthetic allergens

Principally, we distinguish between synthetic and natural allergens. Allergens are substances that can cause allergic reaction in humans. The body’s immune system triggers a response to an allergen. This response can manifest itself in the form of a cough, asthma or skin reaction. Put simply, the immune system can be led astray by allergens with the result being a severe physical reaction. For instance, hay fever is such reaction. Pollen (a natural allergen) which humanity has become accustomed to over thousands of years and which is as such harmless, can cause adverse reaction in some people. It is thought that this faulty reaction may be caused by external environmental factors. Agricultural sprays have been shown to partially act as synthetic allergens.



Tencel is the brand name for a synthetic plant fibre. It is a type of viscose and consists of pure cellulose derived from wood. Using a complex and sophisticated spinneret process the cellulose is made into fibre filaments. These very fine cellulose fibres are then made into a yarn or fleece and are used as raw materials in the textile industry. Tencel has some micro-climate balancing properties and is easier to maintain and care for than e.g., cotton, which is also a cellulose fibre. Dormiente uses Tencel in products, e.g., in duvets, that are particularly aimed at people suffering from allergies. Tencel has a very smooth and soft feel. It is therefore popular in fabrics that require a good handle and need to feel pleasant to the touch, such as mattress covers.



To be vegan describes a lifestyle that completely renounces animal products, for both food and other products of daily life.


Warmth retention ability

The ability of a natural fibre or synthetic duvet to retain warmth is determined by its insulation capacity. Depending on their construction and the type of filling material, duvets are able to retain the warmth generated by a person and prevent them from feeling cold. Fine animal hairs such as camelhair, merino wool, yak hair or cashmere have excellent insulation properties as they are naturally designed to keep the body warm even during severe cold temperatures.

Wooden Sprung Slatted-base

This is a mattress-base consisting of sprung, ply-wood slats usually made from beech. These slats are particularly elastic and springy and improve the sensation of comfort in bed. A good quality wooden sprung base greatly enhances the benefits of a good mattress which will translate into a superior feeling of comfort during sleep.