We sleep, on average, about seven hours a night—which means that we spend way more time in our bedroom than we do in any other space. It follows, then, that the bedroom is a linchpin for your overall health: If your sleeping space is dusty, stuffy, or generally unclean, how can you expect to stay well?
When I started waking up every morning with a stuffy nose and a sinus headache, I sensed something might have been wrong with my space. Here are a few practices I put in place in my bedroom to tackle the problem and make my bedroom a healthier space...
1. Start with the basics
Take a peek under the bed. Is it clean down there? It's easy to forget about sweeping and vacuuming the void under the bed. But you've got to do it. Periodically—at least once a season— you should pull out all the storage bins, wipe them down, and clean the floor under your bed.
2. Consider your sheets
Are they made of a natural, skin- and body-friendly material? Consider buying bed sheets made from organic cotton. How often do you change the sheets on your bed? Ideally, your sheets should be washed once a week. I definitely wasn't washing that often before, but I began to stick to a once-a-week schedule and I've noticed an improvement in how I feel when I wake up.
3. Rethink your pillows
Think about it: If you sleep on your stomach (like I do) you are literally breathing your pillow for 7 hours a night. It's a good idea to wash pillows at least twice per year. But good news: You can probably wash your pillows in the washing machine.
Also check to see what your pillow is stuffed with. Are there any known allergens sitting under your nose? Many people are allergic to down (maybe you are?) so instead, consider a natural, hypoallergenic filling like wool, or memory foam. Or invest in hypoallergenic pillow covers: they keep the bad stuff—dust mite feces and other grossness—in your pillow and out of your nose. (But remember, they need to be washed regularly too.)
4. The heart of the matter: your mattress
The best mattresses for allergies, asthma and other similar conditions are ones made from natural materials like cotton and wool. If you already have a mattress and you're not in the market for a new one, you can invest in a hypoallergenic mattress cover to help keep yourself apart from any triggering materials, as well as things like dust mites and mold. You should also get into the practice of cleaning your mattress with a vacuum a few times a year, at least.
5. Keep pets out
Lastly, as much as it breaks my heart to say it (and it's something I continually fail to practice): Keeping pets away from your bed can be a critical step in keeping a bedroom that supports your wellness—especially if you struggle with allergies.
What else do you do to keep your bedroom healthy?
Re-edited from a post published 7.17.09—TW