Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Creating an Organic Bedroom

Are you ready to make your bedroom environment organic? To begin, concentrate on eliminating airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold/mildew, viruses and bacteria, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which can disrupt your sleep cycle and bring on long-term health hazards. As recommended by The American Lung Association and the EPA, here are three important actions to take in reducing indoor air pollution:
  1. Control sources of pollution
  2. Make sure your home is vented adequately
  3. Keep indoor air clean
Here are some important steps to making your sleep environment safe:

Consider throwing out your current mattress and purchasing an eco-friendly, environmentally-safe one. This will be the largest expense you incur, but well worth it. Your current mattress is likely covered in flamer-retardant and stain-resistant chemicals applied at the factory. Foam cushioning could contain PBDEs or petrochemicals which are off-gassing (chemical off-gassing) at all times. The time you spend sleeping on your bed is nearly one-third of your life span, so this step is the most critical in moving toward a healthy sleeping environment.

If you have chemical sensitivities (especially to latex odors), select a natural cotton mattress or organic cotton mattress. As cotton mattresses are generally very firm, one option is to purchase a natural wool topper for relieving pressure points as you sleep. A topper will also reduce body indentations occuring over the life of your mattress.

If you are not allergy-prone, choose a natural latex mattress. These types of mattresses are anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, dust-mite proof, and relieves pressure points. Make certain the latex is at least 97% natural -- not a 60/40 blend of natural and petrochemical-based materials.

Because you sleep in the mattress instead of on top of it, a natural latex mattress provides your neck, shoulders, hips and knees with proper support. Tossing and turning will be less frequent and you will find that your sleep is more peaceful. Better sleep means your immune system has a better chance of rejuvenating and preparing for the next day's demands.

If you find that you are unable to replace your mattress, here are some other things you can do. Purchase a pure wool or natural rubber mattress topper. Although the topper eliminate off-gassing, you will experience better rest by putting some distance between yourself the toxins in your mattress.

Replace your current bedding with organic cotton sheets, pillowcases, and even duvet cover for your comforter. You can purchase barrier cloths or zippered encasings which provide protection to your lungs from dust mite allergens. Studies have shown mattress and pillow encasings can relieve eczema suffering. Good choices for pillows include those made with untreated cotton, organic cotton (better), wool (great for moisture wicking and eliminating sweat), buckwheat hulls (great neck support), or natural rubber (97% natural latex).

Consider sheets, blankets, and duvet covers manufactured with untreated or organic cotton or wool. Organic cotton is now available in a variety of colors.

Avoid bedding with down (feathers) such as comforters and pillows. These items hold in moisture and don't dry out quickly. As a result, they tend to produce mold. These items also attract dust mites. Choose a wool comforter to keep warm and encourage moisture-wicking. These comforters are very lightweight. A study conducted at Polytechnic Institute of Wales showed using wool as a fill fiber resulted in calmer heart rates.

Purchase a good air purifier. Make certain the purifier you purchase uses HEPA filtration. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. A good quality HEPA filter will eliminate 99.97% of all particles the size of 3 microns or larger.

Make certain you keep up on replacing your air filter. Some units require on-going filter replacement and prove very expensive in the long run, so do some thorough checking on filter types and prices before you purchase.

If you have a mold or mildew problem in your home, remove it using bleach or inquire about having professionals come into your home and removing it. When you have eliminated molds and mildews, consider investing in an Airfree air sterilizer. This air cleaner is capable of killing mold without producing ozone.

An alternative to the above would be to install a whole house air cleaning system. Or install special furnace filters that are specially designed to eliminate 90% or more of allergens and particles 2-10 microns in size. A good product called AllergyZone was invented by an allergist for allergy sufferers.

Check back for our next post where we will continue discussion of additional steps you can take to create a healthier sleep environment in your bedroom.

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