What is the key to getting better sleep? Besides changing your behavior — reducing or eliminating caffeine and other stimulants, avoiding alcohol and going to bed at the same time every night — you can also make sure your sheets, blankets, mattress, box spring, pillows and anything else around you when you sleep isn’t off-gassing noxious chemicals. And don’t forget to filter the air and minimize or eliminate light pollution…
Let’s start with what comes into contact with your skin most directly, your sheets. If you want to do the right thing for the planet and for your health, go for organic cotton sheets. Look for manufacturers that are certified according to either the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the even more stringent SKAL (a similar designation based in the Netherlands and widely subscribed to in Europe).
Given how much time we spend in bed, it would be a shame to sleep on a chemical-laden conventional mattress when so many greener varieties are now available. For more information on what makes a mattress green (including explanations about what different related certifications like GOTS, GOLS, OEKO-TEX and CertiPUR-US mean), check out our post Want Better Sleep: Consider a Green Mattress.
If you do get a new mattress, make sure to recycle your old one responsibly. Some states require mattress retailers to take back and recycle whatever they are replacing. For more information, check out our post Mattress Recycling 101…
As we explain in our post on how compromised indoor air quality can interrupt and shorten sleep, getting rid of airborne irritants can go a long way toward getting you some much deserved and much needed rest. So go ahead, change those furnace and AC filters, get some houseplants to scrub the indoor air, repaint with low-VOC formulations and trade in that comfy bedroom chair with a new one that doesn’t contain toxic flame retardants. Yet another option is to purchase an air filter.
We all know that light in the room is bad for sleeping, and now researchers think there is a link between so-called overnight light pollution (from streetlights shining through an open window or a computer screen flickering across the room) and breast cancer. As we point out in Can Light Pollution Really Cause Breast Cancer?, making sure you have good blinds or shades on the windows and turn off lights and screens and even blocking digital alarm clocks will ensure that too much light doesn’t ruin your night, or the next day, or the next decade. Or get yourself a sleep mask.