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.
- Sheets & Giggles – These sheets are a new recommendation and I like how they use eucalyptus (which makes it breathable and moisture-wicking) from trees grown on sustainably managed, biodiverse farms. Zero pesticides and a great option for those who are hot sleepers.
- Simply Organic Bamboo – I first tried their duvet cover for the guest bedroom and received many compliments on it. Since then, I have tried their sheet sets and really like them.
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.
A Good Mattress and Pillow
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. I have also been sleeping with a Wakewell pillow as I like how I can customize the different “zones” of the pillow and can personalize to fit my head and my sleeping position.
Do you have natural bedding? How have you created a healthy sleep environment in your home?
Discussion (73 Comments)
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.
I need to check these out. Have you could any good organic clothing lines you like? I
I’ll be writing about this soon…
Thank you so much! This helps (:
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: https://www.salon.com/control/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.
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.
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…
I am looking for a waterproof twin mattress cover for my toddler to prevent the mattress from getting ruined by accidents. Is it possible to find a non toxic option for waterproof mattress protectors??
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!!!
What chair did you buy?
This is the one I bought 🙂
What are some comforter options?
The Company Store has great comforter options.
The sheets on that website got horrible reviews – 2 our of 3 were very unhappy with the quality of the “organic” sheets.
I haven’t personally had any issues with their products…
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.
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.