There’s Nothing Like A Good Night’s Sleep
There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep and sleep quality. Alone or with a partner, sleep lets your mind refresh, your body heal and recharge and can even help prevent disease. When you can’t fall asleep easily, it can leave you feeling grumpy and irritable the next day, and can ultimately impact your health.
This sleep guide is meant to help you get healthy, quality sleep. By transforming your bedroom into an eco-friendly oasis and by practicing good sleep hygiene, you can improve the quality of your sleep and your overall health and well-being. Here are ten things you can change about your bedroom and your bedtime routine that will have you sleeping more soundly.
Evaluate your mattress
When was the last time you bought a new mattress? If it’s been over eight years, it’s time to rethink your sleeping situation and the sleep quality you are receiving. A new and earth-friendly mattress can help you sleep better, offering more support where your body needs it the most. Additionally, a non-toxic mattress is better for your health and the health of your loved ones. When you search for a mattress, there are a few factors you should keep in mind. Cost, obviously, may be a deciding factor for you. Despite common belief, though, you don’t have to spend a month’s salary on a mattress that’s health- and earth-friendly. Check out our guides here on Citrus Sleep to help you choose an eco-friendly mattress that’s available at a price point you can afford.
You’ll also want to consider the firmness of your mattress. Again, you can research top eco-friendly mattresses right here on Citrus Sleep; we have quite a few reviews of beds that will suit your needs. Base the firmness of your mattress on your favored sleep position as well as how much support you’ll need for your bones and joints. You’ll also want to consider the materials that are used to fabricate your mattress. Look for natural and organic materials that are sustainably sourced. For instance, natural wool, organic cotton and sustainably harvested organic rubber and latex foam. Check that the mattress you buy is certified by CertiPUR-US, OEKO-TEX or another third party that can verify your mattress is safe and eco-friendly.
If your mattress isn’t quite due to be replaced, you can still make a difference in your sleep. Look for a certified organic or non-toxic mattress topper. You can extend the life – and support – of your bed by using a mattress topper, and you’ll sleep more soundly, too.
Consider your bedding choices
In the same way that an eco-friendly mattress can transform your sleep, adding organic and non-toxic bedding to your bedroom can make all the difference to your sleep hygiene. Since we need multiple sets of sheets, and because bed covers often change with the seasons, it can be tempting to “go cheap” on bedding and bedroom accessories. Reconsider the inexpensive options that are made from synthetic materials. Instead, look for affordable bedding (or even luxury bedding) that’s earth-friendly, organic and natural. Fabrics like hemp, organic cotton and bamboo are highly sustainable and make super-soft options for sheets, pillowcases, bedspreads and blankets. Wool is another earth-friendly choice that’s natural, sustainable and non-toxic.
Switching to eco-friendly, non-toxic and sustainable bedding will not only improve the quality of your sleep, but will impact your overall health. Fabrics that aren’t treated with harsh chemicals and heavy dyes are safer for you and your family. You spend a third of your life in bed – make sure you’re surrounded by safe fabrics! To prolong the life of your eco-friendly bedding, be sure you follow care instructions. For instance, some materials will shrink if washed in hot water or dried on high heat. Some fabrics, like wool, may possibly not be safely be washed at all! If you’re in doubt, please contact the manufacturer to find out how to wash your earth-friendly bedding.
Buying organic and natural bedding doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll pay more. As with mattresses, we’ve reviewed many options for affordable, sustainable and earth-friendly bedding options here on Citrus Sleep. Look for the GOTS label on cottons, and always seek out products that are responsibly harvested and made under fair trade conditions.
Pick the perfect pillow
If your pillows are more than a few years old, it may be time to shop for a new one. Furthermore, if you’ve been experiencing pinched nerves, neck pain or back discomfort, that could be a sign that it’s time to replace your pillow. The truth about pillows is that they only last around 18 months or so, depending on what type you use. Natural and memory foam pillows tend to last longer than pillows crafted from synthetics. Memory foam pillows should last you for around three years, but pay attention to the manufacturer’s warranty or guarantee when you shop for your pillow. Pillows made from natural materials will typically last around two years. Synthetic pillows will offer the necessary support for anywhere between 12 and 18 months.
Are you ready to shop for a new pillow?
You’ve got options. First, consider what type of fill you’d like. Sustainable pillow fill can include anything from buckwheat hulls or organic wool to organic cotton or natural latex. Down pillows are a popular option, but keep allergies in mind as you shop. Always be sure to check that your pillow is certified by one of the following groups:
There are other organizations, but these six are the most commonly sought after certifications by bedding manufacturers. Another factor you’ll want to consider is your favorite sleep position. If you sleep on your tummy, you may need a softer pillow. Back sleeper? Look for a pillow that’s not too thick, as you’ll want to keep your spine aligned. If you’re a side sleeper look for a thicker, firmer pillow that will keep your back in alignment and offer support to your neck.
Choose reclaimed and recycled bedroom furniture
A sleep-conducive, eco-friendly bedroom isn’t just about your mattress and your bedsheets. Instead, why not take a more holistic approach to sleep and incorporate some reclaimed and recycled bedroom furniture? Eco-friendly bedroom furniture doesn’t mean you have to shop second hand. Instead, take a look at some of the hundreds of brands available today that offer upcycled, reclaimed and earth-conscious furniture. When you shop for bedroom furniture, you’ll be looking for a few key things. First, if you must buy your wood furniture new, check for the label that says it’s been certified by the Sustainable Furnishings Council or the Forest Stewardship Council. These groups ensure that the sourcing of forest products – from bedframes to notebooks – is done sustainably. There are other groups that offer certifications as well. You can find a list examples of United States groups at SCS Global Services.
Once you’ve ensured your hardwoods are responsibly sourced, you’ll want to take a look at any chemicals used in production. Depending on what material your furniture is made from, there is a wide range of labels to look for. You can find an extensive list at Ecolable Index; these certifications cover everything from the memory foam in your ottoman to the stain used on your dresser. Some people find that they have more success shopping for eco-friendly furniture when they choose products that are made in the USA. These products are usually fair trade and some are even veteran-friendly. In products that are made in the USA, you’ll find materials like recycled American steel and reclaimed hardwoods. You’re not likely to find lead or other toxins that are sometimes used overseas.
Finally, consider shopping from companies that give back. Many artisans and manufacturers partner with non-profits to support causes ranging from homelessness to water system cleanup. For instance, your purchase of an Avocado Green Mattress bed frame supports several initiatives through the company’s membership in 1% for the Planet.
Is your paint dangerous?
While you’re redecorating your room to create a sleepy environment, don’t forget to evaluate your paint. This goes for existing paint, of course, but also for new paints you may choose to cover your walls. In older American homes, those built before 1978, lead paint was commonly used. It may be worth it to call a professional to test your paint for lead. If it’s discovered, it’s best to call a pro to remove it, as trying to do it yourself can actually release toxins into your air.
Today’s American paints do not contain lead – the government banned these products back in 1978. However, there are paints that are more toxic and harmful to the environment than others. Some paints have extremely high VOCs, such as oil-based paints. Others contain harmful fungicides and biocides, which are detrimental to air quality and the quality of groundwater.
To ensure you’re buying the most eco-friendly paint, do your research! You’re looking for your paint to have three traits:
It has low VOCs – the EPA recommends no more than 250 grams per liter, but there are paints that actually have less than 100 Grams per liter
It contains low levels of biocides and fungicides – you can find this information by looking at the paint can label, or by doing some quick research on the internet
It is tinted, if possible, with natural pigments – some colorants used in paint production are toxic to your health and to the planet
With that said, it’s not as difficult to find eco-friendly paints as you may think! Even the large hardware and home improvement chains offer earth-conscious options, and they’re every bit as high-quality as the traditional brands. Milk paint is one of the most environmentally sound paint choices out there. It was popular back in colonial times, believe it or not, and it’s a wonderful interior paint for your eco-friendly bedroom. Latex paints can be healthy options if you choose the right ones. Again, look for low-VOCs and low levels of biocides and fungicides. Avoid oil-based paints as these are quite harmful to the environment.
No matter which low-VOC paint you choose, the color your pick is important! Soft, restful shades like cream, lavender pale blue and sage green are among the best for creating a sleepy environment. Avoid bright colors like red and yellow for the best sleep.
Try essential oils to help you sleep more soundly
It’s likely that you’ve heard about, and might even know about, the benefits of essential oils. Scents are very powerful; they influence how we feel, how we remember and, yes, how we sleep. You can get better sleep naturally when you take advantage of the benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy. There are several ways you can lightly scent your room with essential oils. One of the most popular ways to do this is by using a diffuser. Electric and battery-operated diffusers are common, and are inexpensive; you can shop Amazon and find them for under $30. These diffusers emit a light steam, releasing your scent of choice into the air in your bedroom.
If you want a more low-tech way to release your aroma, choose a reed diffuser. These are truly little more than bottles with reeds or bamboo placed inside. Using no electricity, reed diffusers will almost instantly release fragrance into the air. Essential oil mists and sprays are a favorite choice among those who use aromatherapy. However, be mindful of the fact that if you spray your bedsheets, your skin will come in contact with the oils. Be sure you’re not allergic or sensitive before you use a spray. Lotions are another favorite, but the same cautions apply.
Recommend Sleep Scents
What scents should you use in your room for an eco-friendly sleep solution? Some of the best essential oils for sleep include:
Alternatively, you can visit your local whole foods store, farmers market or natural products shop and buy specialty blends which are designed to help improve sleep.
Try a white noise maker
Sometimes, a little white noise is all you need to help you fall asleep more soundly. If you live near a busy street, in an apartment or are simply audio sensitive, a white noise maker could be just what you need to rest well. There are quite a few options for eco-friendly white noise makers on the market. You’ll find machines that run on electricity and that are battery-powered or rechargeable. Choose the machine that fits best with your lifestyle, and consider purchasing one for your baby as well! For best results using a white noise maker, buy a machine that won’t automatically turn off. While an hour or so of white noise may help you fall asleep more quickly, it won’t help you stay asleep. In fact, many white noise maker reviews note that machines that turn off actually wake them up when the noise stops.
It may be tempting to run a fan or air conditioner to provide the white noise you need. However, this isn’t an eco-friendly option. A fan that’s run around a 75 watt output will cost between one and two cents to run each hour. Conversely, most white noise makers have an average wattage use of around 3 to 18 watts. White noise machines are obviously the eco-friendly option, but will also save you money. As you shop for your white noise maker, you’ll find that there are quite a few options! You can choose a simple machine that sounds like a fan, or a more elaborate option. The “fancy” white noise machines may include sounds like rain, thunderstorms or even jungle sounds to help you fall asleep.
Add books to your space – and your routine
Books. There’s nothing like curling up with a good book to make you feel cozy and sleepy. If that sounds enticing to you, consider changing your sleeping space and your nightly routine to include plenty of books. Search online or visit your local thrift store to find an upcycled, recycled or eco-friendly bookshelf. Then, fill your shelves with the classics, with romance novels, with whatever works of fiction or non-fiction that will help your mind relax. Reading before bed is an incredible way to help you fall asleep faster. Studies show that reading prior to sleep helps boost your brain power, alleviate stress and improve the quality of your sleep. Whether you’re reading something boring or something that simply takes you away from reality for a while, reading before bed is a great eco-friendly way to get to sleep.
Incorporating books into your sleep space is also good for your sleep hygiene. Floor to ceiling bookcases can lend a coziness to your room, and a well-arranged (and neat) collection of books can do the same. Avoid a cluttered look, as this actually may be detrimental to your sleep. Please note that, while reading books before bed is a great way to fall asleep, we’re talking about physical books. Reading on your e-reader, phone or laptop won’t help you sleep and may actually keep you awake for longer! Pick up an old-fashioned, physical book and dive in, but skip the electronics before bed.
Use a dimmable nightlight
Many people love to sleep in a completely darkened room. This may mean they’ve installed blackout curtains, ensured that all lights have been switched off, and may even choose to wear an eye mask. However, there are those who prefer a little bit of light. Whether it’s to stay safe during nighttime trips to the bathroom or kitchen or simply for the feeling of security, a hint of light is certainly okay at bedtime. The type of light you choose can make a difference in the quality of your sleep, and in how quickly you fall into slumber. The lighting in your room can also play a part in how quickly you fall back asleep should you wake up in the middle of the night. It may be tempting to leave a light on in the hallway, or over the kitchen sink for instance. However, a better and more eco-friendly option is to use a dimmable nightlight either in your bedroom or in a hallway you travel at night.
There are thousands of eco-friendly, dimmable nightlights in stores and on sites like Amazon. You can choose a light that operates via the light switch on your wall or one that’s touch-operated. Select from a light that plugs into an outlet, or one that’s battery operated. There are silicone options, decorative options and relatively bare-bones options. As you shop for a dimmable nightlight, remember to look for a product that emits an orange, yellow or even a red light. Blues, whites and greens are not conducive to sleep and may disrupt your sleep patterns.
Of course, you’re going to want to keep the planet in mind as you shop, too. Choose a nightlight that is light-sensitive. That is, it will turn off during the day and on when the room gets dark. If you select a dimmable nightlight that’s battery operated, opt for one that’s rechargeable and skip the disposable batteries. LED bulbs are much more eco-friendly than traditional bulbs and they will last for years.
Turn off your devices
We touched on electronics briefly when we recommended a good book for sound sleep. However, the use of electronic before bed goes well beyond simply how you choose to read. In fact, electronics may affect how you sleep in more ways than you realize. Studies have shown that exposure to blue light at night and before bed can impact your circadian rhythm. That is, the natural biological rhythm of your brain and your body throughout a daily cycle. Most people operate on around a 24 hour cycle, and exposure to light plays a large role in this. The blue light emitted from electronics such as the television, your computer or your phone greatly impacts your circadian rhythm and can actually lead to disease. In fact, scientists have linked nighttime blue light exposure to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers.
Many eco-friendly LED bulbs emit this blue light, too. Thankfully, it’s possible to find nightlights and lamps that emit a softer glow, ranging from yellow to red. Choose these for your nightlights and bedside lamps, and turn off your electronics completely. In addition to toying with your body’s natural cycles, electronics can stimulate your brain in a way that will discourage sleep. Watching movies, catching up on the news and “preparing” for work the following day are a few examples of ways we may inadvertently stimulate our minds into sleeplessness. To get better sleep, set yourself (and your family) a curfew of sorts. For instance, the family rule can be that there are no electronics within an hour of bedtime. Instead, play a quiet game together or read a book to prepare your mind and your body for sleep.
A Simple Sleep Guide To Help You Fall Asleep and Improve Sleep Quality
Sleep is vital to your health and creating a non-toxic, eco-friendly and inviting sleep space will only help to refresh your body and mind when the day is over . Incorporating healthy sleep habits to help you fall asleep, improving your sleep quality hygiene and treating yourself to an earth-friendly space will do wonders for your health and your overall well-being.
Shana Thompson is a full time professional writer and editor. Shana has worked extensively in the fields of content marketing, on-page and off-page SEO (guest posts, backlink acquisition), and creative writing. As an experienced pro content writer, Shana has worked on several magazines, publishing companies and marketing agencies. Many recent projects have included everything from nutrition and health services, where a lot of research and citations were needed, to writing about health, sustainable, eco-friendly products.
Follow Shana at Shana Thompson | @STx3Content / shanathompson.com