The last thing you want to do when you are trying to drift off into a restful sleep is worry about all the chemicals floating around your room. Unfortunately, so many elements of interior design are produced with synthetic materials that contain toxic components that not only interfere with your sleep but also other aspects of your health as well as the greater environment.
The best bedroom design is organic, but not everyone knows how to find organic linens and décor. Here’s a guide to help you build a cozy, organic bedroom from the floorboards up.
To start, it would be wise to repaint the walls and ceilings of your bedroom in no-VOC paint. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are a variety of chemicals that release from certain materials like gas, potentially causing short- or long-term effects on your health. For example, VOCs tend to cause irritation of the eye, nose and throat, excessive headaches, damage to the central nervous system and even perhaps cancer. Because the air in your bedroom likely doesn’t circulate or refresh with regularity, your room could have a high concentration of VOCs, which could be interfering with your sleep.
While VOCs are present in a number of household items, to include your mattress (we’ll get to that later), flooring materials, furniture, cleaners, air fresheners and even some clothing, the biggest indoor culprit tends to be paint. If you haven’t painted your bedroom within the last five years — and if you aren’t certain you used a no-VOC paint — you definitely want to repaint with a no-VOC option. You can find regular no-VOC paint at your local hardware store, and you can find natural paints, like chalk and milk paint, as well.
While you’re at it, you might choose a soothing, nature-inspired color palette, like a pale blue, pale green, warm oatmeal or cool mushroom.
Organic Mattress and Linens
Memory foam mattresses are known to emit VOCs, and even memory foam mattress toppers can be dangerous. Other synthetic mattress materials should cause equal distress, not just because they surround you in potentially hazardous chemicals but also because they tend to devastate the environment both in their production and after they are thrown away. For example, innerspring mattresses cannot be recycled, only thrown in landfills; however, they take up so much space in landfills and are so difficult to destroy because of their springs, that they continue growing their carbon footprint even after they are no longer in use. All the while, these mattresses leach toxic chemicals into the ground and water, poisoning the surrounding ecosystem. That’s why it’s important to invest in a mattress made from natural, organic materials, like natural latex, bamboo, wool and organic cotton.
Your bedding matters as much as your mattress. You should avoid synthetic pillows, which can produce VOCs and contribute to environmental degradation, especially because you should replace your pillows at a faster rate than your mattress. Additionally, you should invest in an organic mattress protector and natural fiber sheets and blankets, in materials like cotton, bamboo, hemp or Tencel. Fortunately, you can find organic bedding with high thread counts, so you can feel comfy and cozy while being sustainable and safe.
Natural Decorative Accents
The finishing touches on your organic bedroom should contribute to your sense of comfort and add to the atmosphere based on nature and health. Here are a few suggestions for decorating an organic bedroom to make it attractive, inviting and environmentally safe:
- Organic furniture. Furniture can be made with inorganic foams and textiles that emit VOCs or devastate the environment in other ways. You should invest in a bed frame and other furniture pieces that are organic (i.e. made without pesticides or toxic chemicals) and eco-friendly (i.e. using recycled or upcycled components).
- Natural fiber rugs. Hard floors like wood and tile are easy to clean, but textiles add warmth and comfort. You should lay down a natural fiber rug or two in a softer texture, and you should look for certifications like fair-trade and GOTS.
- Living plants. Living plants aren’t just a passing trend. Greenery adds life and color to your space, as well as fresh oxygen which can counteract any chemicals used in or around your home. You can find a range of hard-to-kill plants, like snake plants, philodendrons, rubber plants and cacti.
- Soy candles. Smell is one of the best ways to change the feeling of a room. You should burn soy candles scented with essential oils like chamomile, sage, lavender and citrus, so you can cultivate a thoroughly relaxing atmosphere.
Unfortunately, toxic chemicals seem to be the standard for modern life. You need to consciously choose to fill your bedroom with safe, natural and organic materials if you want to be able to relax and sleep in a healthy space.