With everything going on right now, the only thing I’m interested in catching are Zzzz’s. And catching those Zzzz’s can be the very thing that keeps us from catching something else.
Our body is miraculous. It heals itself when we sleep. That is why it is of the utmost importance to ensure that where you sleep is pristine so that your body has the opportunity to do what it needs to do.
There are a lot of contributing factors to this magical mystery ride we call sleep. Start sleeping better with these 6 steps to create the optimal bedroom in your home – a “sleep sanctuary“.
1. Go Organic
We often think about organic when we are walking through the grocery store. It’s important to think organic in the bedroom, too.
Two ways environmental toxins enter our bodies are inhalation and absorption. Given that we breath all night (thankfully), and are snuggled into our mattresses, bedding, and pj’s for several hours, going organic is key.
Non-organic mattresses, especially when made of foam, off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs come from the polyurethane, plastics, and chemicals (i.e. flame retardants). While many manufacturers claim their mattresses will off-gas in just a few days, the reality is that most will continue to off-gas small amounts of VOCs for years.
Given that we spend about 1/3 of our life in bed, and the average mattress is used for 10+ years at a time, this continued exposure is worth a second look.
There are also chemicals present from the dyes and processing treatments of the fabrics, as well as residual pesticides used while growing the cotton, bamboo, or flax used to make the fabric for sheets, pj’s and other coverings.
Luckily, there are lots of organic mattress, bedding, and pajama options on the market in a variety of price ranges to meet almost any budget.
2. Limit VOCs
While mattresses can be a dominant source of VOCs in the bedroom, additional VOCs are released from paints, furniture, flooring, carpeting, fabrics, finishes, candles, cleaners, and air fresheners. These sources, too, can continue to emit chemicals into the air of your sleeping room for months to years.
While many health-impacting VOCs can be found inside the home, one VOC of importance is formaldehyde, which often comes from vinyl floors, carpets, anything anti-wrinkle (sheets, window coverings), cheap furniture, and the glues used in construction and to make certain manufactured wood products. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen , and is linked to several acute and chronic health conditions (you can learn more HERE).
If it’s been awhile since you’ve painted and furnished, these items have most likely off-gassed already. When choosing new paints, furniture, and finishes moving forward, go for products labeled no VOC, organic, Title VI Compliant, TB11-2013 Compliant, and try to choose natural, hardwood products (careful to note what is used for staining and finishing the wood).
You can also invest in a HEPA + Carbon filter that will not only filter out allergens and air particulate, but can also capture VOCs and formaldehyde. I personally use an Austin Air Healthmate Plus.
While there are lots of cheaper furniture and finish options on the market, those savings can easily be lost to healthcare costs down the road. Fortunately, some interiors manufacturers are starting to catch on and are creating affordable, healthier furniture, flooring, and finish options.
3. Get rid of your carpet.
Shiver me timbers, no one likes to step on a cold, hard floor after climbing out of a cozy warm bed. But bear with me.
Indoor carpeting can be one of the unhealthiest features of any home. The recycled foam pad, synthetic backings, and “stain-resistant” treatments can be a source of formaldehyde and other harsh chemicals (including the same ones used in non-stick cookware and firefighting foam).
Carpet pad, along with the carpet fibers themselves, are basically sponges for dust, dirt, dander, molds, mites, and other indoor allergens. This is super important for anyone with respiratory illness, asthma, and allergies.
With daily wear and tear, foam padding and synthetic (poly-plastic) carpet fibers and the chemicals they’re made of break down and disintegrate. This is one source of household dust, which is then inhaled.
If you can’t or don’t want to eliminate carpeting in your bedroom, there are options. If possible, choose area rugs woven from natural materials like wool, jute, sisal, cotton, or silk. Also, consider investing in a true HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner. Again, like quality furniture, HEPA vacuums can be pricey. However, you get what you pay for, and the health benefits may be worth the extra cost.
4. Temperature and Humidity
According to a variety of sources, the optimal temperature for deep sleep ranges between 60°F-70°F. A cooler temperature allows for the body’s temperature to lower – a first step to falling asleep.
As for humidity, according to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal relativity is between 30-50%. In general, a home’s relative humidity should fall below 60%. Humidity in the bedroom can lead to restlessness, feeling hot, and excessive sweating. If you are waking up in a twist of soaking wet sheets, it’s time to check your bedroom’s levels. Humidity also contributes to mold growth and dust mites, both contributors to poor indoor air quality, allergies, and other health issues.
A dehumidifier can help to lower humidity levels if needed, and can be ran a few hours before sleep if the noise is bothersome. Conversely, if your room is too dry (less than 30% relative humidity), a humidifier can be used. Again, the goal is to fall within the 30-50% range.
5. Light & Sound
This one is simple. We sleep best when its dark and quiet.
I’m not sure about you, but for me, even the slightest repetitive tick, tap, or drip can annoy me into a restless night. Sound is a factor that each of us needs to evaluate on our own. Some thrive with white-noise machines, and others with ear plugs (like me).
The noise to avoid? Your TV, laptop, tablet, or cell phone – whichever is streaming that old episode of Friends. (Spoiler, they were on a break.)
According to a 2018 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that evaluated over 43,000 women, sleeping with the TV on in your bedroom “may be a risk factor for weight gain and the development of overweight or obesity.”
Here’s the twist. It’s not the sound that’s causing this issue. It’s the light.
If you’ve indulged in my past blogs, you’ve heard me sing the praises of eliminating LED lighting from homes and wearing blue light blocking glasses after sunset. Why is this so important? So we can sleep. Why is sleep so important? So we can heal.
It bears repeating – blue light suppresses melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone. Not only will reduced melatonin result in light sleep (vs. deep), it may delay the body’s ability to fall asleep, resulting in those hours lying in bed, growing increasingly frustrated with not falling asleep. (Been there, done that).
Despite TVs and LEDs, you may fall asleep quickly. However, don’t forget that melatonin also plays a role in the depth of your sleep levels, each of which provide critical functions of healing and restoration for the body each night. So, if you think blue light doesn’t affect you and the quality of your sleep, I’m sorry to disappoint you. It does.
Invest in a quality pair of blue-light blocking glasses. My favorites are from RA OPTICS. So many cute styles to choose from!
6. Disconnect. Literally.
My last blog focused on the presence, health risks, and tips to manage electromagnetic and high-frequency radiation in the home. The bedroom is a priority when it comes to EMFs.
Fortunately, we don’t need WIFI when we are asleep. So, turn off WIFI routers, Bluetooth devices, cell phones, tablets, smart devices and wearables and leave them out of the sleeping room. If you don’t have a landline and are worried about emergency situations, you can still turn off WIFI and Bluetooth, turn up the ringer, and leave the phone just outside the bedroom or across the room. Perhaps by disconnecting, you can reconnect with your partner, too (wink, wink).
You can also have a sleep switch installed so that you can easily and conveniently turn off necessary bedroom electric breakers that emit electric fields that connect to and through your body. I recommend the Safe Switch from EMFSleepSafe.com (use code UPLIFT for 10% off).
You’ll want to have your body voltage assessed prior to installation (I can help you with this – schedule time HERE). But first, try sleeping with your bedroom breakers off at night for one week. If the head of your bed is on a wall of an adjoining room, shut the power off there, too (unless there is a refrigerator or freezer present). Please note, home breakers aren’t meant to switch on and off with frequency, so please do so with caution.
I adore sleep, and I am fascinated by all that can result from a great night of deep, restorative slumber. The health of your home, and specifically your bedroom, can impact the quality and quantity of sleep you get each night. This is a problem I’d like to help you solve.
I have curated lists of healthy and green furnishing and finish resources, as well as relationships with various U.S. organic mattress and bedding manufacturers and craftsman that make beautiful custom hardwood bedroom furniture. I am pleased to offer my clients designer discounts so that you, too, can rest easy in the nurturing sleep sanctuary you deserve.
Let’s connect so you can stop counting sheep and start catching Zzzz’s. Schedule complimentary time on my calendar HERE.