Few pleasures in life can compare to sliding between cool, crisp sheets, snuggling down into that comfortable spot in the bed, and floating off to dreamland. It may be a restful sleep, but is it safe? Maybe not. What you can’t see or feel may be harming you.
For eight hours a night, you could be breathing in fumes from glues, solvents, fire retardants, and other heavy toxins. Here’s where the chemicals lurk in your bedroom.
Start with the foundation
Your mattress might be the first obvious target in detoxifying your bedroom, but don’t forget about the wood frame that supports it. Treated woods are likely to contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a group of chemicals used as flame retardants in furniture, carpets, curtains, and bedding.
PBDEs are an environmental nightmare, building up in living organisms, including humans. Replace your bed frame with one made from wood that is unfinished or one treated with natural waxes and oils.
What’s lurking in your mattress?
Nobody likes to give up their comfortable mattress to break in a new one. But if you knew what was hiding in yours, you’d probably change your mind. Floating between the coils are more PBDEs, as well as styrene, another powerful carcinogen. On the flip side, organic mattresses with cores made of all-natural latex or wool, are antibacterial, antifungal, naturally fire retardant, and long-lasting.
Beware of latex mattresses made with a combination of synthetic and natural latex. They may be marketed as natural, but the synthetic latex is a chemical derivative. Look instead for organic wool mattresses. They are a little hard to find but can be worth the search because of their pure organic qualities.
Thread count versus safety
Wrinkle-free sheets are nice to sleep between, but they’re covered with a formaldehyde finish that doesn’t wash out. Reported reactions include respiratory problems, headaches, and rashes due to continuous exposure to chemically treated sheets. Replace them with sheets made from bamboo. One of the strongest grasses in nature, it can be as soft as cotton when used as fabric.
Other bio-based fibres include sustainable, pesticide-free fibre derived from the beechwood tree. Turned into soft, stretchy fabric, these sheets are more absorbent than cotton. If you can’t do without your cotton, then organic percale is your obvious choice.
If you’re sleeping each night in a toxic bed frame and mattress covered in chemically treated sheets, it makes sense to consider more natural options.
Pillows are often the most overlooked when it comes to greening your bed. Here are some options.
If you’re picky about your pillow’s loft (its ability to keep its volume and shape), then a hemp-filled pillow may be right for you.
Loose hulls allow your pillow to easily change shape for maximum comfort and support. Air circulates more easily, keeping mildew to a minimum.
Organic, fair trade cotton
If you prefer a dense, firm pillow, then consider fair trade cotton. Cotton compresses, so it retains its shape.
The tropical kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra) provides seed pods filled with a fine, fibrous, cotton-like substance that can be used as an antibacterial filling and as a replacement for down.