Sleep Happier and Healthier
Do you want a natural bedroom – one that’s a restful sanctuary? Your bedroom should offer you a peaceful, restorative night’s sleep, not one which exposes you to numerous harmful chemicals.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend an average of 8+ hours every day sleeping in their bedroom. When spending that much time somewhere, you should make sure the environment is as healthy as possible.
Unfortunately, there are many items in our bedroom which can cause us harm while we try to sleep - everything from allergy causing dust mites to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), toxic PBDE flame retardants and formaldehyde.
But don’t lose hope! Creating a healthy, natural bedroom is possible by making some changes. Don’t worry. You don’t have to change everything at once. Some recommendations are easier and less expensive than others. It’s best to get started on what you can, then budget for the rest.
The best thing to do is to just begin!
Here are 16 different recommendations (in no particular order) to make your bedroom a healthier, more natural environment.
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Clutter not only causes stress and overwhelm, but it can also be a place for dust, pollen and mold spores to hide.
Try keeping the clutter to a minimum in your bedroom by storing items in drawers or cabinets. Give away items that you no longer use.
Put dirty clothes in a hamper. Hang up clean clothes.
When it comes to books, it’s best not to have bookshelves in your bedroom as old books can house mold spores.
Your bedroom should be just that - a room for your bed so you can get quality sleep. Not a room full of office equipment, bookshelves, boxes, or paperwork piles.
I always hated that my mom used to make me clean my bedroom as a kid, but it was a good habit to get into. By cleaning your bedroom, I am referring to dusting, vacuuming and washing bedding.
Keeping dust mites to a minimum in your bedroom can help limit allergies. Your sheets, pillow cases and blankets can harbor many dust mites.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, you should:
Wash your bedding in water 130 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter each week. Dry them in a hot dryer cycle to kill dust mites.
It’s best to not have carpet in your bedroom, but if you do, be sure to vacuum it with a HEPA vacuum on a regular basis. Carpet loves to harbor all sorts of things from dust and bacteria to mold spores. If you have tile flooring, be sure to mop it regularly.
According to the EPA, our indoor air can be more highly toxic than outdoor air. Harmful chemicals are found in many of the everyday products we bring into our home.
Most cleaning products, air fresheners and personal care products contain synthetic fragrances which are made up of numerous chemicals.
New products such as furniture or plastic items can off-gas harmful VOCs for many months. These are just a few of the items in our bedroom which can pose a risk to air quality.
In order to improve your indoor air quality, try using an air purifier, or keep air purifying plants in your bedroom.
You might also try using a Himalayan salt lamp to detoxify the air, or place Moso Natural air purifying bags around. The bags contain bamboo charcoal which helps to absorb pollutants.
These items should help you have a better night’s sleep since you won’t be breathing in toxic chemicals all night.
Here are some items which can provide you better indoor air quality:
Certain plants can create natural air purification and help oxygen levels in your home.
NASA “collaborated with the Associated Contractors of America (ALCA) to come up with a list of the most beneficial flora for your home. Their informative Clean Air study found that some plants, more than others, could naturally filter harmful chemicals and help mitigate the effects they have on humans.”
Some plants are able to remove amounts of benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia from the air.
It’s important to make sure you’re sleeping on a “safe” mattress – a mattress that isn’t filled with harmful chemicals. After all, sleeping is when your body repairs itself. You don’t want to be filling your body full of toxins during that time.
Initially, flame retardants were used on mattresses in order to protect us from a fire. However, those fire resistant chemicals have actually resulted in an inundation of toxic chemicals that we inhale on a nightly basis.
In order to comply with federal regulations, mattress companies use a variety of fire retardants in their mattresses. Flame retardants are only one of several toxic chemicals that go into the manufacturing a mattress.
Other toxic materials typically found in mattresses can include VOC emitting petroleum-based polyester and polyurethane (PU) foam, non-organic treated cottons, adhesives and more.
When shopping for a mattress, be sure to look for organic mattresses, or ones which use 100% natural materials such as wool, bamboo, or natural latex (made from rubber trees, not a blend of natural and petrochemical-based materials). Also, make sure your mattress is free from polyurethane foam.
In addition to the materials used to make the mattress, also verify with the manufacturer that flame retardant chemicals were not used in the manufacturing of the product.
Even though a mattress can be a large purchase; it is well worth it for the sake of your health.
Here are some examples of “safe” mattresses:
It’s important to make sure that the items you wrap yourself in while you sleep are “safe” - free of harmful chemicals. It’s unfortunate, but items such as sheets, blankets and comforters can unknowingly contain harmful chemicals.
Formaldehyde can hide in sheets that list “permanent press”, “easy care”, “wrinkle-free” or “no-iron” on their packaging. Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen and can off-gas for many years.
TIP: If you have permanent press sheets, do not iron them since formaldehyde may release into the air when heated.
Teflon can hide in sheets which are water or stain resistant.
When shopping for bedding, it’s best to look for certified organic that is eco-friendly in its manufacturing and dying process.
If organic sheets are too expensive, look for 100% cotton sheets with no finishes, or bamboo sheets. Also, buy lighter colored sheets since they shouldn’t have as strong of a dying process.
Here are some examples of “safe” bedding:
Due to dust mites and mold spores, the National Sleep Foundation recommends to replace your pillow every 1-2 years.
When shopping for pillows, look for ones which are organic in both their filling and cover and aren’t treated with flame retardants. You definitely don’t want to be breathing in those harmful chemicals all night long!
Keep away from memory foam pillows. They off-gas harmful VOCs that you don’t want your head near.
You can also look for pillows with natural fillers such as wool, buckwheat, or even flaxseed, rice, and corn. If you purchase a wool pillow, make sure the wool is untreated and unbleached. Wool isn’t machine washable, but it is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
Here are some examples of “safe” pillows:
PVC is a known human carcinogen and it may be in your mattress pad!
PVC is the second most widely used plastic resin and is one of the most toxic and hazardous plastics. It also can take a long time to off-gas.
When shopping for a mattress cover, opt for a PVC-free or vinyl-free mattress pad. Be sure to steer clear of those that have an outer “membrane,” or an inner layer of plastic.
Here are some examples of “safe” mattress pads:
In addition to other items in your home, your bedroom furniture may contain flame retardants, formaldehyde, toxic adhesives and be painted with high VOC paint.
Data sheets associated with chlorinated flame retardants such as Tris phosphate (TDCIPP) have been labeled as carcinogenic. These chemicals have been linked to measurable health impacts.
Flame retardant chemicals don’t just stay in the furniture. The chemicals can collect in indoor dust and enter your body when you inhale it.
In addition to flame retardant chemicals, furniture can also be treated with formaldehyde. A suspected carcinogen, formaldehyde can off-gas for years. Formaldehyde can be found in plywood, pressed wood, particle board and medium density fiberboard.
When shopping for furniture, be sure to look for pieces made of either whole wood, glass, metal, chrome, wool, wicker, organic, or “green” building material so you can avoid exposure to flame retardants.
Electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) are toxic electrical frequencies that are emitted from electrical devices and our phones. These frequencies can cause damage to our DNA by disrupting electrical communication in our body.
As mentioned before, your body repairs while you sleep. It repairs by transmitting subtle electronic signals. Unfortunately, the low-frequency signals in our electronics can interfere with the body’s natural repair process.
Some things you can do before and while you sleep are to set your WiFi router on a timer to turn off during the night while you sleep. Also, don’t use your smartphone before you go to bed.
Studies have shown the more time you spend on your smartphone, the worse you’ll sleep. Before you go to bed, it’s best to set your smartphone to airplane mode. Better yet, keep it in another room while you sleep.
Do you have carpet in your bedroom? It might feel nice under your feet, but it can be harboring all sorts of nasty things such moisture, mold, dust, pesticides and dirt.
Flooring such as carpet and vinyl can also contain numerous chemicals which can off-gas for a long period.
Fortunately, there are better, less toxic flooring options such as ceramic, marmoleum and bamboo.
If you want rugs in your bedroom, be sure to look for ones which aren’t chemically treated, or have toxic underlay pads.
If you have carpet flooring, make sure to vacuum it regularly with a HEPA-filter vacuum.
It’s always nice to spruce up a room by changing the wall color. However, due to the chemicals, adhesives and mold possibility, it’s best to stay away from wallpaper.
If you want to turn your bedroom into a calming new color, be sure to choose Low or Zero-VOC paint.
You can even find paint which ultimately helps improve air quality by absorbing and neutralizing the amount of chemicals and pollutants in a room.
It is always best to remove your shoes when in your home. Our shoes can contain dirt, bacteria, and remnants of chemicals and pesticides.
“Dr. Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, studied the bacteria on the bottom of shoes and found that they can track all kinds of gross stuff inside homes.”
Everything from fecal bacteria to E. coli can be found on the bottom of your shoe.
Curtains can harbor dust and mold spores. Both are bad for allergies.
Curtains can also contain chemicals that are in their fabric. Be sure to avoid curtains that say they are scotchguarded, stain-resistant, or pre-pressed.
If you want to have curtains in your bedroom, choose ones made from natural fabrics such as organic cotton, or hemp.
You might want to just opt for untreated wooden blinds with no curtains.
The glow of a candle might be romantic or help ease stress, but candles with synthetic fragrances can harm you with toxic emissions when they are burned.
If you like the glow of a candle, choose beeswax candles instead.
Candles can also be used to purify the air. E3C candles are a good option for air purification.
Here are some non-toxic candles which can provide you better indoor air quality:
While sleeping, our brains require darkness in order to produce proper levels of melatonin.
“When your brain “sees” blue light at night, the mixed message can add up to serious health issues.” Blue light coming from screens and displays can suppress the brain’s production of melatonin which will affect your sleep.
“For nighttime use, swap out your LEDs for clear bulb incandescents, low-voltage incandescent halogen lights.”
By taking these natural bedroom tips to heart, you will go a long way to having a more healthy home.
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