Your bedroom should be an oasis of calm and relaxation. Picture a peaceful space with lights down low, devices off and little clutter, to help create the kind of cozy atmosphere that sets the stage for good quality rest. But, is all that nocturnal serenity being undermined by clouds of chemicals seeping out of your bedding and mattress?
Unfortunately, for many of us, the answer is yes. Unless you’ve made a concerted effort to avoid them, you’re probably curling up every night in a bed full of off-gassing flame-retardants, solvents, chemical residues and pesticides that are virtually standard issue in most contemporary bedding.
This nightly exposure wreaks havoc on your body, disrupting the endocrine system, overtaxing your adrenals, exacerbating allergies and triggering inflammation. The sooner you can get yourself into cleaner, greener bedding, the better. So how to minimize your exposure to the nocturnal nasties? Here are a few quick tips to get you started cleaning and greening up your sleep sanctum – and resting healthier:
Skip the miracle fabrics.
If your bedding repels wrinkles and stains, dries quickly and holds color even after numerous washings, consider these chemical red flags. Convenient as they may seem, easy-care sheets come at a cost. Those ‘miracle’ fabrics are made with chemicals, derived from carcinogens like coal, oil, and natural gas. Hardly the stuff you should be sleeping with.
Embrace the wrinkles.
Skip the ‘no-iron’ sheets and go for 100% natural-fiber, preferably organic, chemical-free or minimally-treated sheets in cotton, linen, cotton/linen or bamboo/linen blends. Embrace the slightly rumpled, un-ironed ‘shabby chic’ look for everyday and iron sheets only when special guests, or your mom, plan to visit overnight.
Upgrade your bedding one sheet at a time.
Organic cotton, linen and wool bedding are the gold standard, and yes, they can be pricey. However, the good news is, there’s no need to ditch everything all at once (although the sooner, the better). Make the transition to healthier bedding an on-going process, upgrading one room at a time, or even a piece at a time, over the course of a few months or even years.
Consider creative financing.
If cost is a concern, the next time you’re asked, “What would you like?” for your birthday, anniversary, or any other celebration, request a specific item or a gift card from your favorite organic bedding store. Also keep an eye out for organic, natural fiber and chemical-free options at white sales in January and August; clearance and manufacturer close-outs; flea markets; estate sales; Ebay, or even granny’s linen closet – with her permission, of course.
A blanket with an On/Off switch is all kinds of wrong. Electric blankets are the one bedding item I would say you should jettison immediately. Electric blankets are the worst of all worlds: they’re ugly, they’re synthetic, and most of all, the internal heating coils woven into them act as virtual antennas that maximize your exposure to body and brain disrupting electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). Just say no!
Modify your mattress.
When it’s time for a new mattress, make your next one as chemical-free as you can afford. Consider organic cotton and wool options, or natural (not synthetic petro-chemically-made) latex versions. You can also try a non-traditional mattress, like an organic cotton futon or tatami mats. If you don’t need a new mattress just yet, slip the one you have into an organic (not plastic!), waterproof cover to help reduce nightly toxin inhalation. Add to that an organic topper to further tamp down the toxins and ramp up the comfort. You can also take a look at the greener, cleaner offerings that include Lifekind, Healthy Choice, Omi Mattress, Earthsake, and others.