Can you really consider it “rest” if you’re busy breathing in off-gassed formaldehyde, petrochemicals and pesticides while you sleep? If those bedcovers you love to curl up in are made from non-organic fibers, then they’ve likely been sprayed with flame-retardants and stain-resistant chemicals. But it doesn’t stop with your bedding. That mattress, your curtains and even your favorite pillow could all be contributing to a night of tossing and turning.
While you snooze, your body works to recharge, but it does more than just catch a few winks. Your body takes that time to detox from all of the contaminants it encounters throughout the day. If you just continue to breath in chemicals during dreamland, your body doesn’t get that chance to recuperate.
“During sleep we are regenerating, and as a result we’re more vulnerable,” said Mary Cordaro, an expert and consultant in healthy and sustainable building and indoor air quality. “If we don’t get that break at night, then what happens is that our body burden (the burden of contaminants in the body) never gets a chance to get lower. You’re just filling up more and more.” Not lowering your body burden could potentially create more serious health problems in the future.
We spend about one third of our lives in bed. Before you next nod off, try these ways to create an organic bedroom for a more healthy and restful place to sleep.
Choose better bedding
As you doze, your sheets and comforter press right against your nose, mouth and skin. If your seemingly cozy bedding was doused in chemicals dyes, formaldehyde and other irritating allergens, then you’re breathing them in every night. Wrap up in healthier organic bedding. Choose certified organic cotton, wool or hemp instead of synthetic fabrics.
Organic cotton is grown without toxic pesticides or fertilizers and is also hypoallergenic. Today, organic cotton bedding also comes in a range of colors and styles.
Wool bedding helps your body maintain a comfortable temperature while you sleep. It helps you stay cool in warm seasons by wicking away moisture and it also keeps you comfortably warm in cool weather. Wool absorbs and releases moisture, so you don’t have to worry about accumulating mold and dust mites in your bedding. Make sure to choose certified-organic wool products to avoid pesticides.
This absorbent, lightweight fabric requires no pesticides to grow. It can be slightly stiff, so look for blends that include other organic fabrics.
Chuck that old mattress
That mattress you’ve been conked out on was sprayed with flame-retardants and stain-resistant chemicals, and was also likely assembled using materials made from petroleum. These noxious chemicals can off gas while you sleep, making it easy for you to breathe them in or absorb them through your skin.
Instead, choose an organic mattress made from natural latex, organic cotton or organic wool. Most organic mattresses contain a blend of these fabrics. Organic mattresses are hypoallergenic. They repel dust mites and prevent moisture from accumulating, which keeps mold and mildew from growing in the mattress. Thank goodness. If the mattress contains wool, it’s also naturally flame resistant.
Organic mattresses can be a tad hard, so you may also need an organic cotton or wool mattress topper to make your sleep softer.
Take down synthetic curtains
Just like other products made from synthetic fabrics, curtains contain toxic chemicals that can off-gas into the air. Blackout curtains are especially harmful. While they effectively block out the sun’s rays from disturbing your slumber, they also contain endocrine-mimicking chemicals in the vinyl that bind to dust in your house and never go away. These chemicals just build up over time, making them more dangerous than even the better known volatile organic compounds or VOCs.
Drift off on a better pillow
As the one item that goes right next to your eyes, nose and mouth night after night, you want a pillow that doesn’t let mold, mildew, dust mites and other allergens build up in it. Choose pillows that include organic cotton, organic wool, buckwheat hull or natural latex fillings, as well as outer casings in those same fabrics. Natural latex made from rubber trees gives pillows that same Memory Foam feeling, without the toxic petroleum-based synthetic foam.
Before purchasing, make sure all of your organic bedding accessories have been certified organic through a reputable third party.
image: z a m i r a is a bride