You spend so much of your life in your bed, but is it safe? You’d hope so, but the truth is that your conventionally produced cotton sheets and blankets, and your synthetic memory foam pillows, are off-gassing toxic chemicals into your bedroom that could be putting your health at risk.
If you have allergies, asthma, or health symptoms you can’t explain, swapping your conventional bedding and pillows for organic could make a big difference. Organic bedding and pillows are made with natural latex, organic cotton, and organic wool. These materials are naturally chemical-free, produced with few or no pesticides, and sustainably sourced.
Conventional Bedding Is Toxic
If you’re still using conventional bedding, you’re going to sleep every night in a stew of toxic chemicals. Pillows made with traditional, synthetic polyurethane foam and synthetic latex have been found to release volatile organic compounds (VoCs), which have been linked to a variety of ailments, including respiratory symptoms, asthma attacks, neurological problems, vision impairment, cognitive impairment, and cancer.
The cotton in your conventionally produced sheets and pillowcases is grown using heavy doses of pesticides — just nine ounces of cotton, about as much as there is in a t-shirt, requires 17 teaspoons of pesticides to grow. Those pesticides, defoliants, herbicides, and insecticides stay in the cotton fibers after they are harvested and eventually make their way into your bed. Organic cotton sheets and pillows are much more breathable than synthetic sheets that contain a high chemical content, and they don’t contain any chemicals for you to breathe in during your sleep or absorb through your body’s largest organ, your skin.
Make the Switch to Organic Bedding and Pillows
As bad as your sheets and pillows might be, you can rest assured that your conventionally produced mattress is worse. Mattresses contain a lot more polyurethane, synthetic latex, and pesticide-soaked cotton than a small pillow or a set of sheets. But a new mattress is an investment, and you can’t necessarily replace yours just because you found out that it might be poisoning you.
You can at least cut down on the chemicals you have to sleep in by replacing your regular pillow with an organic pillow and your sheets with organic sheets. Because cotton crops require so much pesticide and account for so much of the world’s pesticide use, anything we can do to cut down on the amount of cotton that’s being traditionally grown will show a benefit.
Organic cotton sheets are also more breathable than regular sheets because they don’t contain so many chemicals. If you or someone in your family has sensitive skin, you’ll find that organic cotton sheets help to soothe it, and can even help keep your skin looking fresher and more hydrated during the day. That’s because you won’t be rubbing chemicals all over your skin when you wrap yourself up in your sheets at night.
Organic pillows can open the door to an especially exciting new world of comfort. If you like a nice memory foam pillow but aren’t sold on the toxic chemicals they release (and really, who would be?), you should try a natural latex pillow. Natural latex foam is available in a wide range of firmness varieties. It’s naturally resistant to dust mites, so it’s less likely to accumulate the human allergens Der P1 and Der P5 that dust mites secrete in their fecal matter. It’s also antibacterial and antifungal, and virtually odorless aside from a slight rubber smell in some latex foam.
Latex isn’t your only option, though. If you like a soft, downy pillow, but want to spare some birds, kapok pillows are a good solution. Kapok, also called silk cotton, is a soft, fluffy fiber that is naturally moisture and dust mite resistant. If you’re a side sleeper and need support for your head, choose a buckwheat pillow. And if you need a moisture-wicking, temperature regulating pillow, choose wool for its natural ability to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and absorb moisture from your skin. Wool is naturally fire retardant and resistant to dust mites.
You may not be able to afford an organic mattress, but just swapping out your traditional bedding and pillows for organic ones can soothe health complaints related to chemical off-gassing and make your bed a safer, more comfortable place to be. It’s worth it.