Non Toxic Sleep and your Mattress

Non Toxic Sleep and your Mattress

Sleep is an integral piece of wellness. When you're asleep your body, especially your brain, repairs and detoxifies more efficiently and at a much faster rate than when you are awake. Disrupting this function by not getting adequate sleep leads to a myriad of health issues. Because this is such a crucial time for recovery and we spend 1/3 of our life sleeping, it is important to make sure our sleeping environment is a healthy one.

The room you sleep in should be cool, quiet, dark, and contain as few toxins as possible. 60-68 degrees is optimal. A simple window fan can cool your room, muffle outside noises, and bring in outside air (which is much cleaner than inside air). If your room isn’t pitch black you may want to look into getting blackout curtains or a sleeping mask. Outside light and even light from your alarm clock can effect melatonin production and circadian rhythm. It’s also wise to keep your cell phone and other devices at a distance while you sleep. When it’s time to invest in a new mattress, be sure to do your research. Most mattresses contain petroleum based chemicals, toxic foams, synthetic fabrics, and are treated with chemical fire retardants. These materials and chemicals have been linked to problems like allergies, asthma, hormone imbalance/reproductive issues, impaired fetal brain development, reduced IQ scores/behavioral problems in children, and even cancer.

Why are there such harmful chemicals in mattresses??? Manufacturers are free to choose cheap materials, maximizing profit without regard for consumer safety. Additionally, It is illegal to sell a mattress in the U.S. unless it passes flame retardant standards. Instead of choosing quality materials that are naturally flame-resistant, like wool, most manufacturers opt for cheaper materials that they douse with toxic flame retardants before delivering your mattress to your door. No thanks, right?

My husband was on board with purchasing a black out curtain, but when I first broached the subject of buying an organic mattress, he was nervous about the cost and objected. Keep in mind, this is the same man that wonders why we have to spend all our money on organic food when things get a little tight at the end of the month. I get it. It’s hard to spend more when we’ve grown accustomed to spending so little. That low price tag has a pretty big hidden cost though. It often means sacrificing our health in a major way. His objection was logical though. He felt that if we used organic sheets, our bodies would never touch those harmful chemicals. While this is true, the issue is that mattresses off-gas, releasing these chemicals onto our bodies and into the air we breathe. I reminded him how terrible our foam mattress smelled when we first got it and explained that while the smell dissipates over time, more flame retardants are released when the mattress gets old and the foam degrades.

When we finally agreed to purchase a non-toxic mattress, we looked far and wide to find a company with fair pricing and quality construction. If we were going to invest in our health, the mattress had to be safe AND comfortable. As we discussed above, a good night’s rest is hugely important and nobody sleeps well on a poorly constructed mattress. We waded through a sea of "natural" mattresses that didn't offer any information to back up their claim. Certified organic mattresses are third party tested to ensure their safety and we knew this was the direction we wanted to go in. After comparing our options we decided on Soaring Heart for our home and have also made their products available on our website.

Aside from having the highest of standards for safety and construction, we liked that we didn’t have to buy our mattress all at once. You can literally layer your bed together buying sheets, pillows, a mattress pad, and topper first, while saving up and deciding between a shikibuton, futon, or latex mattress. Buying an organic mattress is an investment. The upfront cost is nothing to sneeze at, but when you spread that amount over 10+ years, it becomes A LOT more reasonable. For our kids’ set-up, a shikibution was a more affordable solution than a mattress and has worked perfectly. Bed rolls are another great option! We bought pieces as we could afford them and tried not to worry when we couldn't. Worrying and sleep don't really mix.

Wellness Is

Wellness Is

Each day we’re faced with decisions regarding our health and well being. It’s tempting to obsess over the toxins around us and how we might avoid them, but perfection is not the path to wellness. Wellness happens when we find balance in the moment. In a sense, wellness is the path and perfection is a road block. It’s impossible to live a life free of toxins and trying to will make you crazy. Crazy people aren’t well. I’m forever seeking balance, not perfection, and here are a few things I’m learning…

{food} If organic options are available in your area, replacing any amount of conventionally grown food each day is better than none at all.  Frozen organic produce is usually more affordable and so is growing your own if you have the space and time. When you can't afford to buy organic, you'll do your body a huge favor by making your own food instead of eating processed food. If you don't have time to cook and can support a restaurant that uses local, organic ingredients, eat there. When you find yourself at a restaurant that doesn't, order something delicious and enjoy it. Eat less sugar and more fat (yep fat, just make sure it's the good kind!). Minerals are important and magnesium is the best friend you never knew you had. Fermented foods are delicious and can greatly improve your health. If you like bread, eat it! The healthiest kinds don't contain bleached or enriched flour and if you can find a loaf that's prepared properly by soaking, sprouting, or using sourdough starter, eat that.

{water} Drink lots of it! Drink it warm after you brush your teeth in the morning. As far as filters go, a salt-free, whole-home system is about as good as it gets…clean water to drink and shower in, squeaky clean dishes, soft laundry, and a thriving garden. It's an investment though and one that probably only makes sense if you own the home you're currently living in. If it isn't feasible, toss a stick of carbon in your water pitcher and choose an affordable shower filter. Even if it only removes chlorine, that is better than water with chlorine! One day you'll have clean sink, laundry, and hose water and it will be glorious.

{personal care} Minimize. Think about what you can live without, and find safe alternatives for the rest. Organic is best, but non-toxic is key. If there are a few products you enjoy making, do it! Exfoliate. Avoid toxic, preservative laden products that are sold in big box stores and malls. Keep it in perspective. If you're away for the weekend and forget your toiletry bag, the hotel shampoo won't kill you.

{exercise} Sweating rids the body of toxins. Moving your body most days is the goal, but don't get down on yourself when you miss a day or seven. Do something you enjoy and remember that any workout is better than no workout. Just don't forget to stretch!

{clothing} This is a tough one, but more and more affordable organic options and seriously stylish up-cycled pieces are becoming available.  Start with some budget friendly basics like underwear, pajamas, yoga pants, or t-shirts. Hand-me-downs are perfect for kids! If you're buying new, just be sure to choose children's pajamas that are free of flame retardants. Avoid the dry cleaners whenever possible and ditch the fabric softener. Some say the majority of pesticides are washed out of clothing after several washes, so you might consider checking out your local thrift shop. Fashion-forward ones seem to be popping up everywhere so check them out to avoid pesticide exposure, save money and the planet!

{home} Don't throw out your mattress and couch just yet! Save up and when they need replacing, find the safest option within your budget. Organic cotton, wool, and latex are best, but those free of chemical flame retardants and water/stain-proofing treatments are a big improvement from standard options. If you don't want to compromise when it comes to materials, but can’t afford an organic matress, consider a futon or even shikibuton. Or hey, start with a new pillow and build it.  Go ahead and throw out your non-stick pans. Ceramic, cast iron, glass, or stainless steel are safe alternatives. Wood and bamboo cooking utensils are safer than silicone.…and all of these are better than plastic. If you love candles, find beeswax or organic soy scented with essential oils. Give a diffuser a whirl! Cleaning products can be gnarly so read labels. Just keep in mind that detoxing your home is a process and it may take several years if you approach it rationally with a limited budget. In the meantime, open your windows and breathe. Outdoor air is far cleaner than indoor air anyway!

Soak up some sunshine everyday. Sleep in the darkest environment possible and let your strong body work it's detoxing magic. 

True wellness unfolds when we find balance. I'm not there yet. I haven't mastered the categories above, but I'm moving in that direction. I'm living a healthier life this year than I did last year and that's good enough for me. Sometimes we don't have the time or the means to take care of ourselves like we want to. Other times we need to do what makes us happy even if it's not so good for share a bottle of wine (or two) with a friend, eat cake, or get a pedicure...without any guilt or worry.

Taking care of your body is important, but don't forget to break a few rules once in a while. It doesn't matter how many organic vegetables you eat if you neglect your mind and your soul. Put down the electronics. Find a quiet space in nature when you need to. Do what you're passionate about often. Be kind. Help others and accept help when you need it. Be open and continue to learn. Hangout with dogs, kids, and old people. Learn to value things that actually matter over material possessions. Love, make love, smile, laugh and all that other good stuff.

Say Goodbye to Lotions and Creams

Say Goodbye to Lotions and Creams

Most of us grew up using lotions and creams and didn't think twice about it. We slathered them on the majority of our body and let our dry skin drink them up. Conventional lotions have been linked to anything from hormone disruption and organ toxicity to cancer. The good news is we're sharing information and learning together.  As more and more information surfaces, so do various natural lotions and creams. That's fantastic and definitely a step in the right direction, but there's one problem...oil and water still don't mix.  

Lotions and creams require an emulsifier and preservative. While there are some relatively safe versions of both and research is being done everyday to come up with even safer ones, it would be wise to avoid them when possible. Your body is strong, but it's best not to over-burden your detoxifying system when you can help it. Let your body focus on detoxing after a good-for-your-soul night of sipping wine with friends, not your morning lotion application. Besides, there are such great alternatives for your moisturizing needs!

Oils and butters are jam-packed with nourishing ingredients...ingredients you want your skin to be drinking. The healthy fats found in oils and butters contain vitamins and omegas that heal and rejuvenate. Most importantly, they don't contain any of the bad stuff that creams and lotions do. Aside from quenching dry skin, swapping out your moisturizers for safer options might be the only change you need to make in order to resolve skin issues like acne or eczema. Smooth onto damp skin after your shower or bath and you'll never go back!