This article was created in partnership with Avocado Green Mattress.
The bedroom is the place we reset and recharge. It’s where we spend a good chunk of time (even if many of those hours are spent sleeping). So shouldn’t it be treated like the most important room in the house? Abso-freaking-lutely.
To help you do just that, we partnered with our friends at Avocado Green Mattress to come up with a few ways you can make your room a healthy paradise. Avocado is on a mission to make toxic, synthetic mattresses a thing of the past, because the place you lay your head at night should not only be comfy but good for you too. Start with any of the recs below to make your space a little bit healthier. We won’t judge if you never wanna leave.
1. Dim the lights.
Artificial lighting and light pollution have some pretty negative effects on your sleep patterns. In fact, the light you’re exposed to right before you fall asleep can impact the quality of your rest.
Bright, white light is bad for the bedroom because it increases alertness (great for productivity at the office, not so great for catching some zzzs). It’s also been linked to melatonin suppression, which can throw off your circadian rhythm (your internal clock that tells you when to wake up and go to bed) and make it harder to fall asleep.
Warm, diffused lighting, on the other hand, is less likely to interfere with melatonin production. Other research shows that dimming lights before bed can help you feel sleepier and stick to a regular schedule.
So swap out those bright bulbs for warm, dim (or dimmable) ones. Look for something in the 2700-2800K range—or, if you really want to prime your room for shut-eye, try pink or red lights—they’ve been shown to affect sleep the least.
2. Upgrade to a green mattress.
We spend one-third of our lives asleep, but when’s the last time you thought about where you’re spending all that time? Turns out you might want to reconsider what you’re sleeping on.
Most big foam mattress brands are made from petroleum-based polyurethane, which, when paired with chemical glues and flame retardants, can emit chemical odors and volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) over time. While many mattresses don’t give off enough to cause problems in healthy people, the gases can contribute to unhealthy air quality and affect people with a chemical sensitivity or allergies. Not to mention they’re bad for the environment.
Another thing to note about flame retardants: They can accumulate in your body over time and have been linked to negative impacts on the immune and nervous system, disruptions in thyroid function, and other health issues (especially in children). Europe and California have banned many of these chemicals, but they’re still making their way into some mattresses. Even worse, companies aren’t required to disclose the use of said chemicals on mattress labels (you know, the very intimidating ones you’re not supposed to remove?).
So how do you know what’s in your mattress? Do your research and seek out companies that are transparent about their products. For example, Avocado Green Mattress never uses petroleum-based polyurethane foams or chemical flame retardants. All its mattresses and ultra-plush pillows are handmade in California using nontoxic, sustainable, and renewable materials, including 100 percent natural latex, and Global Organic Textile Standard-certified cotton and wool. Even better: Avocado mattresses are Greenguard Gold Certified, which means they meet super-strict emissions standards. And with free shipping, free return pickups, a risk-free 100-night trial, and a 25-year warranty, there’s really no reason not to try it for yourself and see if it makes a difference.
3. Scrap the screens.
Whether it’s working, scanning social media, or binging Mrs. Maisel, we all spend way too much time in front of screens. So why not make your bedroom a screen-free zone? Using your phone at night can negatively impact shut-eye, and even just snoozing near screens is tied to less time actually asleep. Why? It goes back to tip No. 1—too much light (especially the blue light from screens) can disrupt our natural cycles of relaxation and sleep.
Set the alarm on your phone a few hours before bed and use that last hour awake to read a book or meditate. Staying away from the TV, phone, and computer will help you wind down and get a better night’s sleep.
4. Fill your room with plants.
Your green friends definitely deserve a place in the bedroom. Beyond adding a nice decorative touch, plants filter air and remove toxic particles from your space. How? Basically, when plants eat and breathe, they trap harmful particles (like ozone and formaldehyde).
While there are many stylish and pollutant-destroying plants to choose from, snake plants, spider plants, and golden pothos are three top choices. And because exposure to plants also lowers anxiety and stress, you can breathe a sigh of relief while reading in bed next to your plant babies.
5. Add natural scents.
Your sense of smell has the power to affect your mood. For example, good scents can help reduce stress and anxiety. But it’s it important to choose the right kind of scent. A lot of fragrances are considered indoor air pollutants—not to mention many people are sensitive to them.
When it comes to cleaning supplies, rooms sprays, and candles, you want to avoid the potentially toxic VOCs found in artificial fragrances. Instead, seek out products scented with essential oils, which have antimicrobial and calming properties. A good place to start is the Environmental Work Group‘s list of cleaning supplies and air fresheners.
6. Wash your sheets weekly.
We hate to break it to you, but you really should be washing your sheets and pillowcases once a week (ugh, we know). Letting sheets marinate week after week can create a breeding ground for dust mites—microscopic pests that can trigger asthma and allergies.
So don’t neglect laundry day.Toss sheets in hot water (131 degrees or higher) and don’t skimp on detergent, which takes care of those pesky mites and allergens. Just do the environment a solid and check out the EWG’s laundry detergent ratings, since many detergents are toxic to marine environments.
7. Nix the noise.
This may seem obvious, but it’s important. Noise leads to sleep disruptions and can potentially cause health issues over time. If you have noisy neighbors, live near a busy highway, or have a night-owl roommate, consider investing in a white noise machine. Studies show that ambient sound helps many people fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly than silence.
8. Keep cool.
It’s typical to want to crank up the heat in winter, but embracing the cold is the secret to better sleep. In fact, restless nights happen most often in the summer, and even insomnia has been linked to elevated body temps.
But you don’t need to freeze to death. Aim for a Goldilocks environment between 60 and 67 degrees to sleep more soundly and get more of that much-needed REM sleep.