MOST OF US would agree that our bedroom is our safe haven. It is the place where we can hide from the world, quiet our minds, find a truly deep breath and recharge our batteries. The bedroom is the room we spend so much of our down time in, and is the place we retreat to recover. The problem is that most of our little safe havens need a good detox. The bedroom has the potential to house a slew of health-damaging toxins, including chemicals from our bedding and paint, electromagnetic fields from our technology, and pollutants from the air. While most of these toxins are not visible, they may be an underlying cause of a host of common symptoms such as nagging fatigue, skin irritations and rashes, respiratory conditions and even insomnia. The goal, then, is to clean up the bedroom so that your body has the chance it needs to detoxify and regenerate while sleeping, leaving you fresh and vibrant, just as nature intended. Take a few tips from us, and finally experience what it means to have truly restful sleep.
THE SHEETS: We spend, on average, between five to nine hours in our bed sheets, exposing us to many chemicals. Non-organic cotton has been sprayed with large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are not only damaging to the environment, but to your health as well. Non-organic sheets are often treated with formaldehyde to make them wrinkle-free. Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing chemical, which can result in respiratory symptoms, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Polyester, another common fabric used in sheets, is synthetic. Synthetic fibers do not breath the way natural fibers like cotton do. As a result, they can interfere with the thermoregulation of the body, preventing a good night’s sleep. Furthermore, regular polyester is made from petroleum, which can also off-gas chemicals.
DETOX IT: Toss the old ones out and invest in a pair of 100% organic cotton sheets, no fabric blends. If you are not into cotton, organic silk or bamboo are other safe options.
THE MATTRESS: Unfortunately there are quite a few bad guys hanging out in the mattress. Conventional mattresses are typically made with synthetic materials. These materials contain toxins such as polyurethane, PBDEs, formaldehyde and boric acid. Many of these chemicals are used as flame retardants, and pose a significant health risk. Studies have linked flame retardants, such as PBDEs, to thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, advanced puberty, reduced fertility and even cancer. These chemicals are so invasive that they are even showing up in human breast milk, so make the extra effort to avoid them.
DETOX IT: Switch your mattress out for an organic cotton, wool, or natural latex one. If you cannot afford to make the switch just yet, cover your existing mattress with a cotton barrier encasing. Organic cotton covers will reduce your exposure to any toxic emissions from the mattress while also protecting against allergens such as dust mites.
THE AIR: Indoor air is a hidden source of pollution that the majority of us don’t even think about. Studies have shown that the air inside of our homes, especially our bedrooms, contain a multitude of toxins including VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These toxins come from our carpets, walls, furniture, synthetic candles, pet dander, cleaning supplies and from outdoors. They are a common source of respiratory diseases, including asthma, allergies and even lung cancer, and can be an underlying cause of more serious health conditions as well.
DETOX IT: The easiest way to clean the indoor air is with an air purifier. We believe that this is as essential as a water purifier, or purchasing organic food. While the ultimate goal would be to minimize the sources of these toxins as much as possible, many of these toxins are unavoidable. Another easy way to improve the air quality is to use only natural candles made from vegetable, soybean or beeswax, with 100% essential-oil fragrances, and to eliminate any household air fresheners.
THE PAINT: One shocking source of toxins in the bedroom is the paint on the walls. Synthetic paint contains VOCs, which include a number of toxins, toxins such as trichlorethylene, xylenes, styrene, and methylene chloride. The health effects of these chemicals are varied, but link to conditions such as childhood leukemia, birth defects, hormone imbalance, cancer and even may lead to neurological and developmental problems and retarded growth in babies.
DETOX IT: Go for 100% organic and biodegradable paint. While low-VOC paint is more popular, that doesn’t mean it is VOC free. If you can’t re-paint just yet, remember that the air filter will help to clear the VOCs.
THE ELECTRONICS: Did you know that everything from your television and computer, to your cell phone and iPad, emit both low level radiation and light that could be disrupting your sleep? According to the Sleep Foundation, “Scientists are now finding that light from electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep, because it sends alerting signals to the brain. The light, which is given off by electronics like computers and mobile phones, and also by energy-efficient bulbs, has been shown to delay the release of melatonin.” Melatonin is the hormone that tells your body it is time to sleep, and when interrupted, leads to insomnia or a restlessness. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen, increasing the risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, as well as developmental problems in kids such as ringing in the ears, bone loss and concentration problems.
DETOX IT: Turn off all electronics while in the bedroom, or even better yet, don’t bring them into the bedroom in the first place. This will not only improve your sleep, and reduce your risk of possible health effects, but it may even spice up your sex life! Research suggests that cell phone radiation may reduce sperm count, while the use of electronics in the bedroom negatively impacts sexual intimacy. So text and phone later, save your T.V. time for earlier in the evening, and keep your bedroom the sanctuary it was meant to be.