Read the blog post on the December Theme – HEALTHY HOMES
This month’s theme, Healthy Homes, is about creating and sustaining a healthy home that is free of toxins and supports an ecologically sensitive lifestyle. This week we focus on our bedrooms. We typically spend (or should spend) one third of our day in our bedrooms, sleeping for 8 to 9 hours to be fit and healthy ourselves. Our bedrooms are where we are supposed to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate. However, are we doing the best we can to ensure that we always have a peaceful slumber, and wake up refreshed and ready to seize the day? Do we know what it takes to ensure that our sacred sleeping space truly champions our health and well-being; are we aware of the hidden pitfalls that may lurk there?
This week’s challenge looks at how to create and maintain a healthy bedroom environment, and promotes the concept of sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene means the practices and habits that are essential to ensure that we have a nighttime sleep that is adequate not only in the number of hours slept, but also in the quality of the sleep.
In order to achieve this, consider the following points:
- Bedroom is for sleeping
First and foremost, ensure that your bedroom is used primarily for sleeping. Cease or limit the use of your bedroom as a place to work, watch TV, eat, or enjoy any other non-sleep related activities. Avoid using bright white lights after daylight hours. If possible, ensure that fresh air circulates through the room at least once during the day. Keep your AC thermostat comfortably cool – research has shown that the ideal sleeping temperature is around 21-22 degrees Celsius.
- Watch out for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in furniture and bedding material
Whenever possible, opt for natural fibers such as cotton, preferably organic cotton, as the fabric of choice for your sheets, pillows, and duvets. Natural fibers are more breathable than synthetic ones – which not only feels nicer against our skin, but is also kinder to it. Synthetic fibers in bedding and mattresses often include flame-retardant materials in them, which emit harmful VOCs that we definitely don’t want to breathe in all night long. In addition, tiny pieces of the synthetic fibers are released during washing, sending these pieces of micro plastics into the water environment where they are ingested by sea life, and ultimately by us.
- Employ indoor plants as air purifiers and air fresheners
Plants are a quick and easy way to bring some greenery into our living spaces, and the bedroom is no exception. In fact, if we choose carefully what type of plants we put in our bedrooms, they can serve a dual purpose. Plants like snake plant, peace lily, Boston fern, and a variety of palms not only look good but they remove toxins and purify the air. Instead of using chemical or synthetic air and fabric fresheners in your bedroom and wardrobes, consider natural alternatives such as dried lavender, rose, frankincense, or orange peels.
- Clean bedding
Experts recommend that it is a good idea to change bed sheets once a week to minimize the build up of sweat and skin residue, as well as dust mites and other allergens. This is even more imperative if we have been ill with any viral or bacterial infections. When washing your bedding material, consider using ecologically friendly cleaning materials instead of harsh chemical-intensive ones. In addition, tiny pieces of synthetic fibers are released during washing, sending these pieces of microplastics into the water environment, where it is ingested by sea life, and ultimately us.
- Clean furniture and floor coverings
Opt for natural wood polish to clean the wooden bed frame and use baking powder and vinegar to rub out stains from carpets in the bedroom.
- Limit the use of technological devices
In this age of technology, our devices often become an extension of ourselves. Too many of us spend a shocking amount of time on our devices of choice, whether it be phones, tablets, computers, or television. While we should be mindful of our technological use in general, it is especially important in our bedrooms. More and more studies show the adverse effects of electromagnetic pollution created by mobile phones and wifi signals on our brain activity, reaction times, and sleep patterns. Limit the use of mobile phones in your bedroom if you cannot eliminate it completely. For example, if you use your mobile phone as your alarm clock and put it on your nightstand, turn on airplane mode. Turn off any electronic devices at least thirty minutes before you go to bed. Limit or eliminate the use of computers in your bedroom, turn off the main power before going to bed. The same holds true for televisions in your bedrooms.
By eliminating hidden pollutants and toxins in our bedrooms, we take climate action also reduce our carbon footprint through personal choices, addressing SDGs #3 Good Health and Wellbeing; #6 Clean Water and Sanitation; #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth; #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; #12 Responsible Consumption and Production and #13 Climate Action.
Yes, you, too, can make a difference in the world, one person at a time.
- Sleep Advisor, What’s The Best Temperature For Sleep?, Feb 2019
- Dr Axe, Organic Mattresses & How to Pick the Healthiest Bed, 29 Mar 2017
- Healthy and Natural World, The Best Bedroom Plants to Help You Relax and Sleep Better: Jasmine, Lavender and More, Accessed 12 Dec 2019
- Wellness Mama, How to Make Natural Drawer Fresheners, 13 Feb 2019
- Healthline, How Often Should You Change Your Sheets?, Accessed 12 Dec 2019
- International Journal of Health Sciences, Health risks associated with mobile phones use, Oct 2014