Remove 'baby phones' from a crib. They may emit strong electromagnetic fields.
Between the Sheets
| The fibers used to make sheets and blankets can be laden with chemicals that pose environmental and health concerns. |
Chlorine is applied to many types of fabric immediately after they're woven to give consistent color. Because chlorine will not stop breaking down fabric once it's been applied, more chemicals are then added to neutralize its effects. (These chemicals can't completely stop the degradation, which is why untreated fabric or whites processed with a natural oxygen bleaching process are likely to last longer.) Chemicals are also used to dye fabric, and formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen, is often used for shrinkage control.
If you're not sure you want all those chemicals in bed with you, just turning to sheets and comforters made from natural fibers may not be enough. The claim that cotton is "natural" or "green" probably means it is not dyed with chemicals or chlorine bleach, but it may have been grown conventionally--and cotton is the world's most heavily sprayed field crop. Planted on only 3 percent of arable land, cotton crops account for 25 percent of the total pesticides and herbicides used annually--about 350 million pounds per year. Put another way, it takes 1-1/4 pounds of agricultural chemicals to produce the cotton in a single set of queen-size sheets, according to Christine Nielson, president of Coyuchi.
Michael Halley of Natural Selections explains that the pesticides and herbicides used to grow many fibers don't break down in water. Therefore, they remain in fabric even after the material has been washed several times. "That's not going to kill anybody, but you are going to have some residue from the field because of the nature of fibrous plants, which are exposed and open while they're growing," Halley says.
But let's face it, the bottom line is how these sheets will affect the quality of your sleeping experience. "The thing we hear most is that the bedding is so soft," Halley says about Natural Selections' organic cotton sheets. "You want to have this against your skin."
Baby's Bed and Bunting
| Sheets, blankets, pillows, bumper pads and comforters, clothing, and diapers should be soft and made of natural fibers that breathe, absorb, and comfort. Such fibers include 100-percent organic cotton, hemp, and untreated wool. |
Choose natural fabrics without permanent-press or other finishes that may improve their appearance, reduce the need for ironing, and retard flammability. These finishes often contain formaldehyde or plastic resins that may linger for awhile, even after washing.
Select cotton fabrics that are organically grown and unbleached or naturally colored. Green cotton, while grown conventionally, is not bleached, dyed, or treated with fabric finishes.
Opt for wool fabrics that are chemical-free and fire-resistant when selecting blankets, mattress pads, sweaters, and baby buntings. This water-resistant fiber makes a wool puddle pad a must between the mattress and sheets to avoid diaper-leaking moisture.
Enclose the crib mattress in an impermeable encasement made of tightly woven "barrier cloth," polyurethane, or vinyl to prevent dust mites from thriving on the cell and moisture residue that accumulates on baby bedding and mattresses. Air out plastic encasements for at least a week before using.
Avoid goose-down pillows and comforters that may trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, even increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. To avoid the latter, also make certain that crib bumpers are firm.
Purchase an organic-cotton pillow and cover it with a natural fabric pillowcase when baby needs a pillow, about the age of one year.
-- Aisha Ikramuddin
Feng Shui for the Bedroom
| According to feng shui, the ancient Chinese philosophy of arranging one's environment for optimal well-being, the bed--where our bodies regenerate through sleep and where we nurture our intimate relationships--is one of the most important features of a home. Placement of the bed in relation to the bedroom door, which is the mouth of chi (energy), is crucial. |
Feng shui practitioner Katherine Metz shares the following bedroom basics.
If you are not sleeping well, check your bedroom for the following sources of distress.
- The family bedrooms should rest behind the midline of the house and occupy the upper floors.
- The path to the bedroom should be easy and uncomplicated, allowing you to relax before you even reach the bedroom.
- Place the bed in a commanding position, which means that you have full view of the room and the door and you are not in line with the door.
- Avoid placing the bed under a toilet on the floor above.
- To bring more love, compassion, and understanding to your relationship, hang a round mirror in your bedroom.
If you are physically ill, check your bedroom for these problems:
- Placement of the bed over the garage or entry.
- Placement of the bed near a fuse box or other electrical source.
- Many doors, especially if they are in line with the bed.
If you have lost your sense of personal power and life has become a struggle, check these features.
- Lack of air circulation under the bed.
- A toilet on the other side of the wall, at the head of the bed.
- Placement of the bed on the door wall, out of a commanding position.
- A bed enclosed in a very small space, especially with no room at the foot.
If you are arguing with your partner, or your partner has left, check the following:
- An empty doorway to the master bathroom from the bedroom.
- A ceiling beam that runs down the middle of the bed.
- Many doors, even if they are not in line with the bed.
Once Upon A Mattress
| Beds have always been an important part of homes. Egyptian pharaohs discovered the benefits of raising a bed off the earth--King Tut in one made of ebony and gold. Louis XIV, who reportedly owned more than 400 beds, often held court in the royal bedroom. |
Whether King Tut had a good night's sleep on his luxurious bed depended not on its materials but its mattress. Personal taste plays a big role in choosing a mattress; the best way to shop for one, according to the Better Sleep Council, is the "rest test." Go to your favorite retailer, slip off your shoes, and lie down.
Many conventional mattresses are created with plastics, foams, and polyesters that emit toxic gases. A healthy alternative is to choose a mattress constructed of certified organic cotton or industrial hemp, which is stronger and more absorbent than cotton. Wool is also a healthy choice; its fibers contain a great deal of air that provides a springy, soft texture comfortable for sleeping. Wool is highly absorbent and wicks moisture away from the body--a compelling feature, given that the average person perspires away a pint of water overnight.
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