Reasons to Choose Natural Bedding

Reasons to choose natural bedding

Over the last decade, as our family has transitioned to a much more natural lifestyle, we’ve had to make baby steps and prioritize based on budget and ability. Filtering our water was a top priority, since it is something we all consume daily, and of course, we prioritize real/organic foods, but finding natural bedding options for sleep was also pretty high on the list.

Why Sleep Environment is Important

We spend roughly a third of our life sleeping, and for this reason, the environment we sleep in has a pretty big impact on overall health. The air we breathe while sleeping, we breathe for a third of our day. The fabric we come in contact with during sleep, we touch for a third of our day. The mattress we sleep on, we interact with for a third of our day. The lights and sounds present during sleep, we see and hear for a third of our day.

When I started researching and working to improve our sleep environments, I was overwhelmed at first. There are so many factors that can impact sleep quality and it took me a long time to finally address them all. Now that I have, we all sleep really, really well (but I feel like we’ve all become sleep snobs and notice that beds aren’t as comfortable when we aren’t at home).

The upside is that optimizing sleep is a relatively easy step to help improve health, in that it only takes effort when we are making the switch, and after that, we can just sleep and reap the benefits. Optimizing the area where we sleep should have the added benefit of improving sleep quality (and hopefully duration too!) which can have dramatic results for overall health.

In fact, some experts point out that sleep is one of the most important factors in health and that simply getting more high-quality sleep can often help hormone problems, immune problems and much more. Personally, when I was actively working to find answers for my Hashimotos and other health problems, sleeping more made the fastest and most noticeable difference.

Why Choose Natural Bedding

I’ve been slowly trying to transition our family to organic fabrics in our clothing and bedding as much as possible after finding out that cotton is one of the dirtiest crops, sprayed with large amounts of pesticides and herbicides during its cultivation and residue of these chemicals remain in finished textile products. Synthetic fabrics often contain plastics and other chemicals, so they aren’t a good option either, as these plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the skin.

Many sheets are also treated with chemicals to make them flame retardant, stain resistant or water resistant, and a person can breathe in the vapors from these chemicals during sleep.

Depending on what clothing is worn (or not worn) during sleep, a person comes in contact with bedding for a relatively large percentage of his or her day, and this is often an easier problem to address than clothing.

Additionally, estimates are that 1-3% of all cotton workers are affected with acute poisoning from the chemicals used on cotton crops and in many places of the world, the textile industry relies on forced or child labor (much like chocolate is) so it is also important to look for fair trade certified cotton.

Thankfully, a good quality organic natural bedding set can last for years, and there are now some great options available. Since we have 8 people in our family to find organic bedding for, I’ve ordered from multiple places and tried a lot of different options. The ones I would recommend are:

  • SOL Organix: Really high quality bedding that is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified, organic and fair trade certified. (Save 20% with the code “wellness20”)
  • The Company Store: Has a line of organic sheets, comforters, duvets, shower curtains and towels that are GOTS certified.

I’ve recently found a company called Rough Linen that has great natural bedding (although not cotton or certified organic) made out of homespun linen. Linen is made from Flax, which is typically not a highly sprayed crop and Rough Linen products are another durable/natural option. (Fair warning- as the name suggests, the fabrics are rough, which I prefer, but they aren’t for everyone).

Natural Sleep Environment: Other Considerations

Natural bedding is just one consideration for creating a healthy sleep environment, but it is one of the easiest to address. Some other factors I addressed in our home are:

Light and Sound

There is more and more emerging evidence that artificial light, especially blue light, can impact sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.  Some of the steps I took in our home to create healthy light patterns are:

  • Using blackout curtains in bedrooms to block artificial light from outside sources like street lights and headlights.
  • Wearing orange glasses at night to block blue light from phones/computers and other sources.
  • Removing electronics and other objects that have lights from our bedrooms

Sound can also benefit sleep (or make it more difficult). Many people benefit from sound machines, but some types of white noise may actually create a stress response. There is an inexpensive app called Sleep Genius that creates a non-stress inducing white noise for sleep and we play this app through a speaker near our kids’ bedrooms.

A Good Mattress

Finding a good mattress that worked for us and that was non-toxic was a long and frustrating process. Once we finally found one that worked we are sleeping so much better. This post chronicles all of the options we tried and the mattress we finally chose.

Do you have natural bedding? How have you created a healthy sleep environment in your home?

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Reader Comments

  1. I really want to get organic cotton sheets but I’m worried about the above-average tossing and turning they would be subjected to, and if they’d hold up well enough considering the cost. Currently have polyester microfiber sheets but the elastic is shot (only had them about six months) so definitely want to get some new ones!

    • I have three sets of organic cotton sheets. I only use one set: I wash them once a week and put them back on…(laziness…don’t want to fold them) The other two sets have never been used. The sheets I use are still looking just like new! I have had them on my bed for about two years now. (these are organic cotton sheet sets from Target.)

      • I guarantee you those sheets you bought are not really organic. I bought organic mattress from a store called luxurious beds and linens in Oakville Ontario. Learned alot about green washing which seems rampant in the bedding/mattress industry. Very few mattresses are certified organic and if not certified should not call themselves organic…. It’s deceiving.

  2. Great article! We are working towards a healthier home/ sleep environment as well. I am wondering about the blackout curtains though…. Isn’t polyester quite toxic? I’ve read that curtains like those you linked to can off gas for many years before being safe. We’ve been struggling to find an affordable and organic option. What are your thoughts?

    • Great question. The best option would be making your own with blackout material (thermal or regular should be available at most fabric stores and the thermal options can sometimes be found organic) and organic cotton of some kind. When we recently remodeled our living room, I found blackout material on sale for about $5 a yard and made curtains for that room.

  3. What are some comforter options?

      • The sheets on that website got horrible reviews – 2 our of 3 were very unhappy with the quality of the “organic” sheets.

  4. I’ve finally started going through and listening to your old podcasts, and I recently heard the one where you mention toxicity in furniture (tranquilizer-type affects, etc). I actually bought a new office chair this week and happened to notice a tag on the bottom that talks about flammability standards and updated laws regarding what chemicals are considered safe. This chair is said to contain no added flame retardant chemicals, as they are known to adversely impact human health or development. One step in the right direction!!!

  5. Do you have a recommendation for a non toxic mattress cover? I have purchased an all natural latex mattress but cannot find a good mattress cover (without the waterproof plastic part). Thanks!

    • Are you looking for a waterproof one? A wool one might be a great option. I’d check Etsy for organic mattress covers or wool covers…

  6. Greenfibres is FANTASTIC! They’re a leetle pricey, but the quality is SO GOOD (sorry, couldn’t find italics today) – all of my bedding and my mattress is from there. And they do lovely clothes too.

  7. I’m really glad that Wellness Mama has brought this up, as it is a subject near to my heart. Most people are unaware that even if you buy organic cotton bedding from a conventional company such as Pottery Barn, the fabrics have been later subjected to a plethora of dyes and chemicals in various finishing processes that create color, wrinkle resistance, and a certain feel or texture to the final product. Many times, the chemicals in these processes are more excessive and toxic than the chemicals you are trying to avoid by buying organic cotton, and these chemicals DON’T wash out, as they are designed to be a permanent part of the fabric for the life of the product. The only way to avoid all of these toxins is to first know that your cotton is organic, and second, know what types of finishing has been rendered. Here is a company I found that makes all organic bedding free of toxins from dyes or finishing, they strive to be environmentally conscious in production, and everything is handmade in the US: http://www.cozypure.com/about-us?zenid=87d243e109665d715510ab9814dbd54e
    Another thing to think about, if you are concerned about not supporting industries that are based on animal cruelty, it to realize the dark side of the down industry: http://www.salon.com/2013/12/15/your_down_coat_could_be_the_product_of_cruelty/. Wool is a wonderful natural, sustainable resource that can be used in place of down for comforters, pillows, jackets, etc.

  8. Thank you so much! This helps (:

  9. I need to check these out. Have you could any good organic clothing lines you like? I

  10. I bought all my sheets sets from No Feathers Please. their sheets are sooo nice. I love them! I have two kids 3 yrs old and 8 yrs old. These sheets are not only organic cotton, but they are 100 percent made in the USA! They have wool bed protectors which is naturally antibacterial. I am allergic to wool but do not have a problem with it as long as it’s covered by the fitted sheet.

    Don’t get bamboo made sheets. They are made using chemicals even though they say they are organic. They have to use carbon tetrachloride, which is toxic, to strip the bamboo into usable fibers.

  11. Coyuchi is one of the BEST organic bedding and bath companies! I LOVE the quality of their products. I am very chemically sensitive and have had nothing but the best with them. If you can’t handle any dyes at all everything in their color “natural” is completely untreated.

  12. What do you think of targets organic sheets?

    • Look up the company to see where they’re from

  13. You do not need to spend 2k to get a natural mattress. 100% Natural Dunlop latex foam and an organic wool and cotton cover from sleepez. Its flippable, firm on one side and medium on the other. $895. And the intellibed contains polyurethane foam. Never going to be 100% guaranteed no VOC. There are tons of 100% latex mattresses out there for less than this that naturally have no VOCs that you can flip so you’re not sleeping in a crater for way less than this.

  14. This is a nice article. As mentioned in the post we spend almost a third of our day sleeping, but never thought of having a natural bed to enhance the quality of sleep.

    Nice thought. Keep up posting such articles.

  15. Coyuchi has great sheets too. And Under the Nile has really awesome organic cotton blankets that are fleece like and super soft. My daughter has the twin sized one that she loves. Even my little dog has the baby blanket that he sleeps on every night on top of the bed! And we have a king sized one.

    Also, Wildridge Healthy Living sells wonderful wool pillows and mattress toppers. I buy them from the natural news site when they have a sale. Free shipping also.

  16. I am in dire need of a cooling mattress pad cover. I tried the one that was recommended on a link you posted in your article about organic mattresses from Amazon. It is very plush and cozy for the winter, but it sleeps really hot, I wake up on fire almost every night.

    I’ve just moved to North Carolina from Colorado and am very concerned about the hot, humid summer. I need something to keep my bed cool so I can sleep. Any suggestions would be very appreciated.

    • I can recommend a mattress cover that will truly keep you cool, but I don’t think it is organic or non-toxic. It is almost all cotton though. It is from the Sleep Number store – I do not recall the name (I am not at home at the moment), but I think it was labeled a “cooling” mattress cover. It really works – the sheets are always cool, all through the night.

  17. I love Bollar and Branch sheets.. Sleeping so good since we invested money into them! I have tried many but these are my favorite!

  18. We’re steadily swapping in non-toxic, natural options for our bedroom. The two pieces we began with that changed our game significantly were buying medium-loft wool-filled pillows and a 4″ thick wool-filled mattress topper. Both were from a U.S.-based brand that makes their items one at a time, employing organic, unbleached/untreated wool, encased in organic, unbleached/untreated cotton.

    We sleep better, breath better, and never sweat with these breathing, lovely pieces. We’re now spoiled, and have had to travel with our pillows. We hope to get rid of our standard mattress and swap in a wool or wool-natural latex combo soon. Between this and our untreated linen sheets, I cannot recommend de-toxifying one’s bedroom enough!

  19. Thank you so much, Katie for this well-researched article!

    As you said, linen is a much more eco-friendly option than cotton – it uses far less water and chemicals, being something of a “cottage-crop,” provides bio-diversity. However, aside from its many eco-merits, I love linen for other reasons. Its soft, silky texture only gets softer with time, but it lasts and lasts. Yes, the “Orkney” linen is very textured, but our “smooth” linen is very flat and soft, and will please even the most sensitive skin. And the light airiness is unique to linen – even the finest cottons will never compare. I hope you enjoy your Rough Linen bedding. We’d love to see images! – Tricia

  20. Check out Samina bedding, all natural wool beds hand made in Austria. Expensive, but quality sleep is priceless.

  21. That’s nice.
    The best thing though is to buy local to reduce our carbon footprint. People don’t realize how much carbon emissions are from those barges that cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It’s more than all of the cars combined in the United States alone!

  22. I have the summer sheet set from Rough Linen along with their duvet cover (and a cute pinafore for cooking in) and I love them! The texture took a bit for me to get used to, as they are not as smooth as the factory-produced cotton sheets I was used to, but they now feel luxurious to me. Also, they sleep very cool while still having a nice weight to them (I have a hard time sleeping if there is not enough weight on me, hot temperatures in the summer months notwithstanding). I recommend them very highly! They also look gorgeous in any state… sort of like a bad pick up line: “That dress is lovely, it would look amazing discarded on my bedroom floor.”

  23. Anyone know of a good comforter that is not over $200 for a twin ? All seem to use polyfill even if the outside is organic.

    • I’d check coyuchi’s wool fill or cotton fill or holy lambs organics wool filled.

  24. Hi Katie I have learnt so much from your blog. I have a question I’m getting ready to buy a mattress how do I choose a bed frame. Do you have any recommendations on nontoxic bed frame? Thanks.

    • Cheapest and most natural option if you are handy at all is to build one. There are tons of plans available online. If not, I’d just look for an unfinished one that hasn’t been treated with anything. Also, for years, we just had a metal bed frame and no headboard, etc and it worked great.

      • Are metal framed beds like day beds toxic, and do they cause emf issues? Thanks!

  25. For readers who are looking for organic sheets and duvets, I would like like to point out that all 100% organic cotton bedding are not same. It is the processing that leaves how much toxins that are left in the fabric and how much toxin left to pollute the water source where those cotton grown and fabric made. Some members have mentioned about Coyuchi and Boll&Branch brands. Those are really good quality organic cotton brands for sheets. Even though they are in the same space as my company Syona Home, they use the same source of GOTS certified organic cotton from Chetna Organics(www.chetnaorganic.org.in), as Syona Home. Syona Home uses low-impact non-toxic dyes in processing yarn. If you are in the market for purest organic cotton sateen sheets, check out syonahome.com as a serious option. Here is a recently compiled list of 11 organic bedding brands for you to compare and choose. http://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/sleep-sweeter-with-these-natural-and-organic-bedding-brands

    Better Sheets, Better Sleep, Better Life!
    Cheers

  26. Hi Katie,

    Can you tell me anything about Modal or Eucalyptus sheets? I was looking for organic cotton at Bed, Bath & Beyond and they showed me these two products that are supposedly made from trees and aren’t treated with chemicals. There’s no organic certification or anything and I couldn’t find much information about them online as to whether or not they are a decent alternative to cotton. Any advice would be great!
    Thank you!
    Erin

  27. I bought organic cotton sheets after reading this post. However, they feel very rough to me. I washed them with vinegar and no luck. Any ideas of how to make them softer?

    • You aren’t supposed to use anything to soften them. Where did you buy them? I bought mine from “no feathers please”. They are super soft and dont want to go back to regular sheets.

      • The sheets I have are fully made in the USA from cotton fields in Texas.

  28. Where do you buys your towels from? Thanks!!

  29. Hi,

    What are you using for a duvet or comforter? Everything I find that has GOTS certification is really expensive. Between 350-700 Dollars US. I just spent over 300 for a duvet cover and sheets and now can’t find anything affordable to put in my cover.

    Thanks

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