We spend approximately one third of our lifetime sleeping, yet too often we give little thought to our sleep environment and how it impacts our health. Some experts believe that sleep is actually one of the most important factors of our overall health. Getting an acceptable level of high quality sleep can help our hormones, our immune systems and many other aspects of our health. Therefore, optimizing our sleeping area, as well as the duration of our sleep, can yield tremendous benefits for our overall health.

One easy and effective method for boosting the benefits of our sleep is by transitioning to natural bedding. We spend over a third of our day with our sheets, quilts and pillowcases – it only makes sense to seek out the highest quality materials. Did you know that cotton, a common sheet material, is also one of the dirtiest crops, frequently sprayed with pesticides and herbicides during cultivation? It’s true, unfortunately, and the residue of these harmful products stay with the finished textile long after it has been grown. Another popular choice for bedding are synthetic fabrics, which contain plastics and chemicals that can be absorbed by the skin during sleep. On top of that, many other sheets are treated with chemicals to make them flame retardant, stain resistant or water resistant. This is great if you are in a fire or flood, but I think most Hong Kong residents would prefer to have sheets that are not laced with chemicals. 

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Before we look at some healthier alternatives, lets go back to treated cotton for a moment. Did you know that 1-3% of all cotton workers are affected with acute poisoning from the chemicals used on cotton crops? Or that, in many regions of the world, the textile thrives on child labour that would be illegal in Hong Kong? I don’t know about you, but I would prefer not to spend a third of my life sleeping on this product! If you do opt for a treated material, try to look for fair trade certified cotton – it will do little to nullify the affects of the chemicals, but is guaranteed to not use child labour.

Now that we know what materials to avoid, lets look at the good news. There are plenty of natural bedding options available.

Though typically more expensive, a set of high quality organic natural bedding can last for years longer than an inferior one, making it a sound investment over time. As stated earlier, we spend a third of our lives in contact with our beds, so it only makes sense to choose quality.

There is no shortage of options. SOLOrganix produces a line of high quality bedding that is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified, organic and fair trade certified. The Company Store sells a line of organic sheets, comforters, duvets, shower curtains and towels. Like SOL, they are GOTS certified. Rough Linen is another favourite of mine, although it is not for everybody. As the name suggests the material used is quite coarse and rough and it is not certified organic or cotton. However, it is still natural, made from homespun linen. Linen is produced from flax, which is not a highly sprayed, chemical laced crop. These are just a few options off the top of my head – there are many more natural bedding products available in Hong Kong.

Even after switching to natural bedding, there are other ways in which we can optimize our sleep environment. Hong Kong residents bothered by the glaring lights of our bustling city could try modifying the light with a blackout curtain. Similarly, it is advisable to remove blinking or flashing electronics from the bed room, though exceptions can clearly be made for alarm clocks. Sound is another important factor. There are CD’s and app’s which play white noise and can be tremendously beneficial to a good night’s sleep. Finally, mattress selection is as important as choosing the right bedding. As with bedding, we want to look for something comfortable and non-toxic.

Do you have any experience with natural bedding or any tips for sleep optimization? Let us know in the comments.