How to Green Your Bedroom
We are most vulnerable when we sleep. During the night, our bodies replenish the physical and psychic energy spent during the day, shed metabolic waste, and go through many other processes that are essential for long-term health. A healthy bedroom is one that allows us to rest, heal, and regenerate in a space free from environmental stresses and connected to the healing properties of nature.
Our bodies need a break at night. If the vital processes of the body’s natural electrical system, internal organs, and unconscious mind are interrupted night after night, eventually we may be unable to cope with all of the environmental stresses that we cannot control in our everyday lives. Some people experience this interruption as allergies, fatigue, insomnia, waking up tired, or a general lack of vitality. Others may not feel any symptoms in the short run, but over time the body and the immune system may be slowly worn down.
Setting up a good sleep environment is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your body is getting the rest it needs to stay healthy. So if you’re tired of tossing and turning at night and making your way through the day exhausted, try these methods for greening your bedroom and improving your sleep.
Find the Right Bed
Be safe: Choose a frame and mattress that are non-toxic and free of dangerous chemicals. Traditional mattresses are made with a range of glues, foams, dyes, and flame retardants that can off-gas VOCs while you sleep, so look for safer alternatives like non-toxic memory foams or natural box springs manufactured without plastics or harsh chemicals. Also make sure your wooden frames aren’t treated with VOC-heavy polishes or waxes.
Be sustainable: Look for wooden frames certified by the FSC as coming from sustainably managed forests or hunt through secondhand stores for gently used bedroom furniture you can give a second home. Another important part of being sustainable is properly disposing of old mattresses – they take up huge amounts of space in landfills, so look in your area for companies that recycle mattresses or places that accept donations.
Be comfortable: You’re going to be spending a lot of hours in your bed, so take the time to pick a mattress that fits your particular needs.
Find the Right Bedding
You can help the environment by choosing natural sheets, pillows, and blankets made from cotton, wool, or silk instead of synthetic fibers. Also look for organic fabrics: these fibers will have been farmed safely and will not have been treated with damaging chlorine bleaches. When you choose green bedding you’ll also be helping to keep your bedroom pollutant free, since it will be free of toxic dyes and petroleum-based fibers that leak VOCs.
Clean Up the Air
Get a filter: You spend eight hours a night breathing the air in your bedroom, which means you want to keep the air in there as clean as possible. An air purifier will remove toxic chemicals like VOCs and smoke as well as allergens that stuff up your nose and disrupt your sleep.
Clean green: Keep your bedroom clean using safe, natural green cleaning products. Eco-friendly carpet shampoos and natural wood polishes will keep toxic chemicals out of the air, and phosphate-free detergents will keep your sheets soft and clean without leaving behind toxic chemicals that can irritate your skin.
Fall Asleep Naturally
Even one night of insomnia can make it tempting to try for a quick fix to fall asleep, but before you rely on habit-forming medications that can leave you groggy, try these five tips for good sleep hygiene that will help you get the rest you need the natural way.
1. Keep a routine
Our body’s schedule is regulated by a complicated dance of chemicals: levels of hormones like melatonin and thyroid hormone rise and fall in regular daily cycles to tell our bodies when we’re ready to sleep and when it’s time to get up. Shifting your bedtime or sleeping at odd hours will disrupt those hormonal cues and make it harder for your body to fall asleep, so try to get to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning no matter what’s going on.
2. Only use your bed for sleeping
You can help train your body to get a good night’s sleep by making your bed a sleep-only zone: that means no reading, watching TV, or lounging around (although a little breakfast in bed now and then never hurt anybody!). Instead, keep pre-bedtime rituals like reading and listening to music in another room and get into bed only when you’re ready to sleep. Similarly, if you’re lying awake in bed for more than twenty minutes, try getting up and doing something relaxing out of the bedroom – when you’re in bed your body should be getting the message that it’s time for sleep and nothing else.
3. Get comfy
It goes without saying that you’ll sleep better when you’re comfortable, but it’s something many of us neglect. So if you’re having trouble dozing off, try upgrading your bedrooms digs with high-quality bedding. You’ll also sleep better if you keep your room cool, dark, and quiet, so invest in good curtains to block the light and ear plugs or a white noise machine to shut out snoring partners and excitable pets.
4. Use natural sleep aids
While you shouldn’t rely too heavily on chemicals to get to sleep at night, sometimes a little natural relaxation is just what you need. Melatonin is your body’s natural sleep regulator, and taking an over-the-counter supplement a few hours before bed is a good way to gently trick your body into getting sleepy. Aromatherapy is another great natural sleep aid – look for relaxing scents like lavender in candles, sprays, or pillows to set the mood in your bedroom.
5. Skip the stimulants
It’s a simple but hard-to-follow rule: stay away from stimulants before bedtime. Say no to coffee, sodas, and other caffeinated beverages at least six hours before you plan to go to bed and schedule your workout early in the day so that you’re not hyped up at night. Another important chemical to avoid is alcohol. A few glasses of beer or wine will help you fall asleep quickly, but you’ll pay a high price later in the night: when the depressive effects of those drinks wear off they’ll actually act like a stimulant and disrupt your sleep. Remember, a little planning during the day can go a long way towards creating peaceful nights!