Over the last decade, as our family has transitioned to a much more natural lifestyle, we’ve had to make baby steps and prioritize based on budget and ability. Filtering our water was a top priority, since it is something we all consume daily, and of course, we prioritize real/organic foods, but finding natural bedding options for sleep was also pretty high on the list.
Why Sleep Environment is Important
We spend roughly a third of our life sleeping, and for this reason, the environment we sleep in has a pretty big impact on overall health. The air we breathe while sleeping, we breathe for a third of our day. The fabric we come in contact with during sleep, we touch for a third of our day. The mattress we sleep on, we interact with for a third of our day. The lights and sounds present during sleep, we see and hear for a third of our day.
When I started researching and working to improve our sleep environments, I was overwhelmed at first. There are so many factors that can impact sleep quality and it took me a long time to finally address them all. Now that I have, we all sleep really, really well (but I feel like we’ve all become sleep snobs and notice that beds aren’t as comfortable when we aren’t at home).
The upside is that optimizing sleep is a relatively easy step to help improve health, in that it only takes effort when we are making the switch, and after that, we can just sleep and reap the benefits. Optimizing the area where we sleep should have the added benefit of improving sleep quality (and hopefully duration too!) which can have dramatic results for overall health.
In fact, some experts point out that sleep is one of the most important factors in health and that simply getting more high-quality sleep can often help hormone problems, immune problems and much more. Personally, when I was actively working to find answers for my Hashimotos and other health problems, sleeping more made the fastest and most noticeable difference.
Why Choose Natural Bedding
I’ve been slowly trying to transition our family to organic fabrics in our clothing and bedding as much as possible after finding out that cotton is one of the dirtiest crops, sprayed with large amounts of pesticides and herbicides during its cultivation and residue of these chemicals remain in finished textile products. Synthetic fabrics often contain plastics and other chemicals, so they aren’t a good option either, as these plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the skin.
Many sheets are also treated with chemicals to make them flame retardant, stain resistant or water resistant, and a person can breathe in the vapors from these chemicals during sleep.
Depending on what clothing is worn (or not worn) during sleep, a person comes in contact with bedding for a relatively large percentage of his or her day, and this is often an easier problem to address than clothing.
Additionally, estimates are that 1-3% of all cotton workers are affected with acute poisoning from the chemicals used on cotton crops and in many places of the world, the textile industry relies on forced or child labor (much like chocolate is) so it is also important to look for fair trade certified cotton.
Thankfully, a good quality organic natural bedding set can last for years, and there are now some great options available. Since we have 8 people in our family to find organic bedding for, I’ve ordered from multiple places and tried a lot of different options. The ones I would recommend are:
- SOL Organix: Really high quality bedding that is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified, organic and fair trade certified. (Save 20% with the code “wellness20”)
- The Company Store: Has a line of organic sheets, comforters, duvets, shower curtains and towels that are GOTS certified.
I’ve recently found a company called Rough Linen that has great natural bedding (although not cotton or certified organic) made out of homespun linen. Linen is made from Flax, which is typically not a highly sprayed crop and Rough Linen products are another durable/natural option. (Fair warning- as the name suggests, the fabrics are rough, which I prefer, but they aren’t for everyone).
Natural Sleep Environment: Other Considerations
Natural bedding is just one consideration for creating a healthy sleep environment, but it is one of the easiest to address. Some other factors I addressed in our home are:
Light and Sound
There is more and more emerging evidence that artificial light, especially blue light, can impact sleep patterns and circadian rhythms. Some of the steps I took in our home to create healthy light patterns are:
- Using blackout curtains in bedrooms to block artificial light from outside sources like street lights and headlights.
- Wearing orange glasses at night to block blue light from phones/computers and other sources.
- Removing electronics and other objects that have lights from our bedrooms
Sound can also benefit sleep (or make it more difficult). Many people benefit from sound machines, but some types of white noise may actually create a stress response. There is an inexpensive app called Sleep Genius that creates a non-stress inducing white noise for sleep and we play this app through a speaker near our kids’ bedrooms.
A Good Mattress
Finding a good mattress that worked for us and that was non-toxic was a long and frustrating process. Once we finally found one that worked we are sleeping so much better. This post chronicles all of the options we tried and the mattress we finally chose.
Do you have natural bedding? How have you created a healthy sleep environment in your home?