Step 2: Create A Sleep Sanctuary
We spend an average of 1/3 of our lives in bed.
Unfortunately, during that time we are continually exposed to toxins that detract from rest & repair while we sleep.
So to maximize resting & healing, I made my bedroom more sleep-friendly by reducing the following toxins:
- Electromagnetic radiation / pollution from wireless devices and electronics
- Artificial & natural lighting from clocks, light bulbs, etc.
- Dust & chemicals such as fire-retardant heavy metals legally required to be sprayed on mattresses, pillows, and (children’s) pajamas.
Minimize Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation & Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF)
As I mentioned in the previous post, in regards to sleep, radiation causes stress to the body and interferes with hormonal changes in melatonin. Here are steps I took on my own to reduce electro-pollution in the bedroom:
- Radio Frequency (RF) radiation: Made the bedroom a cell phone, tablet, Wi-Fi, smart tv, & computer-free zone.
- Magnetic Fields (MF): Place bed facing North / South in the same direction as the earth’s MF. Changed the electric plug alarm clock with the loud buzzing alarm to a battery-operated clock with a variety of very peaceful wake-up sounds. Another option is the buy an inexpensive battery operated travel alarm clock. And, if you want to continue using a cell phone as an alarm clock, turn it on airplane mode, double-check settings to see if blue-tooth and wi-fi are off, and place the cell phone on the opposite side of the room.
- Electric Fields (EF): Unplugged anything that uses electricity including lights and the adjustable bed frame. e.g. Tested my body’s electric voltage when the adjustable bed frame was just plugged but not in use and have never used it again while in bed because the persistent EF. (Eventually I will replace it with a non-toxic wood frame.) Keep the head of my bed away from the electric heater or HVAC.
Here are a few things I did to make my bedroom a sleep sanctuary after hiring a professional EMF Certified Building Biologist (I share much more in my upcoming book.):
- RF: Purchased a RF shielding canopy & shielding mat to shield radiation from a nearby cell tower and neighbor’s Wi-Fi as a short-term solution.
- RF: Verified that the digital PG&E “Smart” meters were not radiating in my apartment. (Smart meter shielding kits can sometimes be used to reduce some of the RF if needed if you or not everyone in your building is willing / able to opt out / pay for the digital meters to be replaced with analog meters.)
- EMF: I did not have to turn off the breakers in the bedroom in this apartment as the electrical wires were shielded (aka Metal Clad wires) and there were no known wiring errors.
- Dirty Electricity aka Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI): Removed the Lighting Science LED blue light blocking bulb. I purchased it for my bedroom lamps to eliminate artificial blue light not knowing that it emitted HIGH amounts of Dirty Electricity right next to the side of the bed where I slept!@#$. Sigh…the better thing to do is sleep when the sun goes down. (Note: Regular incandescent lightbulbs are no longer legally sold in SF retail because they use more electricity. So I purchased smaller size incandescent lightbulbs that work great and have no mercury like CFL’s and produce no Dirty Electricity like CFL’s and LEDs.)
Address Lighting: Artificial and Natural Light.
External cues like light stimulate our neocortex and alter our brain chemistry / disrupt our biological rhythm. For sleep purposes, light can be broken down into two types: artificial and natural.
1. Artificial Blue Lights: Blue light makes the mind think it is daytime and suppresses melatonin production.
This is how I eliminated artificial lights in the bedroom:
- Covered the fire alarm light with a piece of tape.
- Removed electronics with blue light emission like my former alarm clock.
- Purchased a battery operated reading light with no blue light for the bedroom and a nightlight with no blue light for the bathroom. (Need to test for dirty electricity before sharing here).
2. Natural Lights: The presence of natural light at night can reduce melatonin levels as well. I live in the city and get light from other apartments, the street lamp, and the moon.
- Purchased beautiful white silk “blackout” curtains. They ended up being only “room darkening”
- Added blackout roller shades. Light seeped in from the sides and top and the synthetic plastic or vinyl off-gassed chemicals so I took them down.
- Ideally, non-recessed remote-operated blackout shades would be great. However, I rent so that is not an option so I wear a silk eyemask / organic cotton sock for now. Wish list: ICanBreath Organic cotton eyemask.
Reduce Bed Toxins: Dust mites, Lines, and Mattresses.
1. Dust-mite Protection: We take in small amounts of chemicals when we touch or breathe in dust particles absorbed from disintegrating foam mattresses and cleaning products.
- Covered my mattress, pillows, and down comforter with dust-mite covers. Helps if allergic to dust-mite symptoms like congestion and sneezing.
- Replaced my dust-mite mattress cover, down comforter, mattress protector, pillows, and pillow dust-mite covers with organic, non-toxic, wool / cotton products from a California company called Lifekind. Upside: MUCH less dust and no fire-retardant chemicals. Downside: 1. The wool comforter is not as warm as my former down comforter so I need an additional blanket 50% of the time. 2. The low and the medium wool pillows are too flat – and this is from someone who does not like a high pillow. The large pillow I purchased later is the right size, however, it smelled mildewy. I left it in the sun for a month to air out. Followed up with customer service with mixed results.
- Purchased a 100% certified organic cotton allergy dust mite duvet covers. It is GOTS certified, has no plastic or vinyl, and no chemical treatments (including formaldehyde, antimicrobials, fire retardants, or bleach I believe).
- Splurged on an Austin air filter. It doesn’t require filter changes for 5 years, however, when I leave it on the middle or highest setting for some time, there is a metallic odor in the air. I wish I had taken more precaution when I read about that in other reviews. I called Austin and they recommended a few tests to see if it is the filter or the unit…
Dust Mite Cover Info
Pore size is the diameter of the space or hole between the threads. The average waste particle of dust mites is approximately 9 microns so the pore size must be less than 9. Typically, any fabric with a pore size less than 6 or 7 will block all allergens including pet dander. Anything below 5 microns is premium and the difference between 5 microns and 2 microns is not an issue at all. Both will equally block all allergens, including cat allergen. A very low pore size (1 or 2 microns) gives you low air flow, which will make the fabric hot to sleep on.
Thread count has nothing to do with pore size. 1000 count sheets for example have more threads per square inch but the pore size is not maintained. Thus, these fabrics will do nothing to encase the allergens. (1)
2. Linens: Sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers come in direct contact with our bodies while we sleep – that’s for at least 8 hours a night. So they should also be free of pesticides, dyes, bleach, and flame retardants.
- I have Wamsutta 100% cotton fitted bottom sheets & duvet covers in lieu of top sheets, just like my favorite Hotel Haven in Helsinki. I don’t know if they have been sprayed with BFRs and will call to ask. As they age, I will replace them. Wishlist: 100% Organic, non-toxic, unbleached cotton or silk linens.
- Use reusable Woolzies dryer balls and lavender essential oil instead of dryer sheets with toxic fragrance. I also use hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach.
3. Mattresses: Vapors from flame retardant chemicals & manufacturing chemicals, and dust in our mattresses are taken in through our lungs and skin while we sleep.
Currently, I sleep on a memory foam mattress. It provides great support, however, the synthetic latex and BFRs off-gassed chemicals noticeably for several days when I originally purchased it years ago and may still off-gas at a lesser rate today.
I would like to find a replacement, however, most organic mattresses do not provide great support. And it is work to buy, try, and return mattresses. From my brief research, this is what I know about purchasing a healthy mattress:
- BFRs are toxic chemicals that are legally required to be added to fabrics like pajamas and furniture like mattresses to stop them from burning in a fire. (As a precaution, I’ve replaced my cute flannel pjs with organic cotton t-shirts and pants.)
- Organic mattresses made with pesticide-free organic fabric and batting and wool or natural latex foam rubber without chemical flame retardants are ideal.
- Many manufacturers claim to sell organic mattresses but they are not all non-toxic. i.e. Wool is fire-retardant so it does not have to be sprayed with brominated fire retardants (BFRs’), but sometimes wool is sprayed with arsenic.
- Avoid metal springs and metal bed frames which are EMF conductors.
- In California you may need a doctor’s prescription to buy organic cotton futons without flame retardants. e.g. Heart of Vermont.
- I plan to look into several companies: The Naturepedic brand, a local Berkeley company called Savvy Rest, and Samina which I also saw listed at the SF Green Fest a few years ago.