Holistic Sleep Checklist
If you lead a healthy lifestyle and strive to be eco-conscious, your sleep space ought to reflect your values. Slumber is different from eating and exercise, though, given that you spend nearly 1/3 of your life doing it. Those nightly sleep cycles give you the chance to recharge the organs and cells in your body, strengthen immunity, and restore balance.
If you're looking to upgrade your sleep game, a good quality mattress is a great place to start. Less about buying furniture, and more about wellness, choosing a mattress depends on your individual preferences and ought to adapt with your changing needs. Below are some questions to keep in mind...
Will you be fully supported throughout the night?
If your joints don't have proper support, you may find yourself tossing and turning the night away, losing precious sleep, ultimately waking up tired. Where do you hold the majority of your weight? Do certain parts of your body require more support during the night than others? For instance, do you wake with an achy back or stiff neck? Think in terms of maintaining healthy spinal alignment. Also, consider filling the gaps between your body and the mattress, so you fit snuggly and eliminate pressure points.
What's your dominant sleep position?
How you hold your body in sleep is a critical factor when deciding the density and feel of a mattress. For example, if you're a side-sleeper you may crave additional cushioning; especially if your arm is compressed on the side, beneath your shoulder, which can cause muscle aches and stiffness. So depending on your weight and body structure, you may opt for more or less softness. When choosing, remember to maintain the natural curve of your spine.
According to Dr. Renee Wellenstein, a functional medicine physician with a virtual practice, specializing in women's health, “The optimal sleeping position for keeping proper alignment in your spine is on your back.” Since back-sleeping evenly distributes body weight, as long as your spine is comfortably aligned, you have flexibility choosing a firmer or soft mattress.
As for stomach-sleepers, Dr. Renee says, “is not only the worst for spinal alignment but also the hardest to maintain alignment in.” When sleeping on your belly, notice where you hold your weight; be mindful that the firmness you choose keeps you steady and you don’t feel any pressure. If you have more weight around your midsection or hips, it may seem more natural to veer on the firmer side rather than too cushiony. Even though a plush surface may initially feel seductive, keep in mind you’ll be sleeping roughly 6-8 hours a night. And for stomach sleeping, too soft may cause you to dip in and go out of balance.
Are you absorbing toxins in your sleep?
During slumber, toxins can be absorbed through skin into your bloodstream; harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, and benzene are routinely used in mattresses manufacturing. So always seek out clean green materials, accompanied by trusted certifications. In addition to traditional innerspring mattresses, many memory foam mattresses are made of polyurethane, which studies show emits harmful VOCs. So before buying a mattress, find out what it’s composed of, especially if the description is unclear.
It's no secret, flame retardants can be hazardous to your health. Thankfully, California law prohibits many toxic chemicals in flame retardants. Dr. Renee, says, “I am not a fan of flame retardants since most contain bromine which can interfere with thyroid function and be toxic to humans, affecting not only the endocrine system but also the nervous and immune system as well as the reproductive system.” So seek out safe eco-friendly alternatives such as Kevlar, and wool.
Can you breathe easy during the night?
Even a mattress made from green materials may collect dust over time and influence allergies and overall health. Dr. Renee explains, “Dust mites feed on dead skin cells that humans shed. This is why they collect in mattresses and pillows, since our beds are one of the areas where we shed most.”
Keep in mind, natural latex. The sap of the rubber tree is holistic, and naturally resistant to dust mites and bedbugs. Cedar Natural Luxe Mattress is a hybrid latex mattress, crafted from GOLS organic certified latex, recycled steel coils, and silken Alpaca wool, which in addition to being flame resistant, unlike other wools, also repels dust. For extra plushness, you can add a 3" Organic Latex Topper.
Note: Before covering your bed in a protective casing, to prevent dust and bed bugs, be mindful that this may be counterintuitive since the majority of covers are molded from plastics, and polyurethane, and off-gas chemicals.
Does your pillow cradle your head & neck?
The right pillow is critical. It directly supports your head and neck throughout the wee hours of the night. Considering the close proximity of your face, always make sure it has a washable cover. Also, think about how the pillow fits with your mattress. Do you want firmer neck support? Or would extra softness be ideal as you switch positions?
Dr. Renee suggests that back-sleepers seek out “a pillow with a filling firm enough to support your neck but gives some under the pressure of your head.”
Stomach sleepers,“Opt for a softer pillow but, again, keep in mind that any bend in the neck will move your spine out of alignment.” says Dr. Renee.
Lastly, side sleepers, choose “a pillow that again maintains a neutral spine. So a firm enough filling so that the pillow gives just enough under the weight of your head but not so much that your neck is bent,” says Dr. Renee, adding “sleeping with a pillow between your legs (which is what I personally do) is key to maintaining alignment along the entire spine.”