Have you seen this couple? They wear organic hemp clothing, share a hybrid car, and spend every waking moment looking for all-natural products for the baby they’re expecting. They take pains to reduce electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in their bedroom by keeping clocks and phones away from the headboard ... but they sleep on a coil-core mattress with a memory-foam pillowtop. Their problem? They’re only alert to the benefit of healthy products—and the dangers of toxic ones—when they’re, well, alert.
It’s easy to connect healthy food with strong bodies, or natural cosmetics with beautiful skin. You can see, taste, or feel the differences. It’s harder to know how the consumer choices you make affect your nighttime environment. Research now suggests that what you can’t see, when your eyes are closed and you’re asleep, may be crucial to a healthy life.
The Human Body is Most Vulnerable at Rest
If you, like our hardcore couple, recoil from pesticides and harsh chemicals when you read labels, then extend that judgment to the things you buy to adorn your bedroom. Why? Because the human body is most vulnerable when at rest.
Ecologically Sound Sleep
Most Americans do pay attention to the chemical make-up of the things they buy, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Certified organic foods, for instance, which once enjoyed a minute market share, are now chosen by as much as 66 percent of shoppers. If you actively pursue the health benefits of an eco-friendly lifestyle, consider where you spend 33 percent of that life: in bed.
To understand how your surroundings support or undermine body function as you sleep, you need to know what happens after you drift off.
Mechanics of Sleep
Internal temperature drops.
Blood pressure decreases.
Blood flow to muscles increases.
Tissue growth and repair takes place.
Energy reserves build.
At night your brain triggers activities that are exclusive to sleep and prepare you for wakefulness, such as filling energy stores and regulating cortisol hormones—the substance that makes you alert for the day’s work. During sleep, short-term memories form and consolidate. New skin, bone, and organ tissue replaces dying cells. Slower breathing means that less oxygen is available for these tasks—but the metabolic energy saved will help power you through the next day.
Poor air quality or the presence of EMFs and certain toxins interferes with these critical functions. Nocturnal refreshers are important to everyone, but especially to growing kids, learning students, and those with less robust immune systems, such as infants and older folks.
Poor-quality sleep can have far deeper consequences than just feeling tired and grumpy in the morning. Research shows that unhealthy sleep affects the immune, digestive, and central nervous systems. This raises your risk for colds, stress-related muscle aches and indigestion, and even damage to the brain, liver, and other organs.
Achieving all the stages of sleep that promote rest and rejuvenation may depend upon the presence or absence of EMFs or volatile gases (VOCs) associated with some most conventional mattresses and pillows.
Unhealthy Sleep Affects the Immune, Digestive, and Nervous Systems
So, what does all that have to do with going green? Recent advancements in sleep science and manufacturing technology have made healthier mattresses available to conscientious consumers. If you’ve been having trouble sleeping—or if the fate of the earth keeps you awake at night—a lifestyle adjustment may be just what you need.
Buying organic food, beverages, cleaning solutions, and cosmetics is a great way to embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle. These products help reduce carbon emissions, preserve soil integrity, and promote plant and animal well-being. When you vote with your wallet for the use of sustainable resources and production methods, you safeguard your own health and that of future generations.
A Better Choice: The Certified Organic Mattress
But how green are your home furnishings—particularly those in the bedroom? Conventional coil mattresses, for instance, emit sleep-interrupting EMFs. High-tech memory foam cushions diffuse VOC gases that disrupt normal respiratory, digestive, and brain function. The conventionally farmed cotton or synthetic padding in these mattresses must, by law, be treated with chemical fire retardants, surrounding your body with a toxic atmosphere when it most needs a pure environment.
Wake up to a better choice: the certified organic mattress. Today’s organic mattress is made of cotton and other biodegradable materials untreated with harmful chemical agents. Wool from naturally raised sheep has its own fire-suppressant qualities. Natural latex replaces unhealthy synthetic foam rubber. Heat, not glue, is used to bind layers together.
You can avoid the petroleum-based foams, toxic adhesives, and chemical flameproofing in regular mattresses and pillows by going green. Don’t let the price tag fool you. Investing in an organic mattress, with an average life of 20 years, is cost-effective and may save you more money in medical bills over time.
Just like choosing organic vegetables to get the nutrition you need, buying a mattress made of natural materials will provide the support and comfort you look for, along with healthy fringe benefits.