Celebrate Earth Day with Greener Sleep!
It’s Earth Day! A holiday created to bring awareness of environmental issues. It all began when U.S. Senator Gaylor Nelson called for a “national teach-in on the environment” after a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. And, on April 22, 1970, Earth Day became a reality.
The Congressmen chose April 22nd because for many students it falls between Final Exams and Spring Break, maximizing student participation. As a result, the first Earth Day consisted of rallies organized coast to coast by thousands of university organizations. Their goal was to minimize toxic waste dumps, pesticides, factories spewing pollution into the air, deforestation and other abuses of the environment.
The demonstrations were a huge success, leading to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. The fight to maintain our environment has not ended, though – it requires individuals and businesses to do their part to maintain it.
Lull was founded with the idea of offering a high-quality mattress without negative environmental impact, so we are proud of being CertiPUR-US® Certified. This means that our mattresses are made without the use of harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde, ozone depleters, heavy metals and certain flame retardants that may cause cancer and genetic defects. All foams used meet the standard of fewer than 0.5 parts per million VOC (volatile organic compounds).
This year, we’ve decided to help out in Earth Day’s mission by making you aware of three lesser known types of environmental pollution that can negatively impact your sleep. In that spirit, we begin with…
Air Pollution: Inside and Outside the Home!
Most of us are aware of air pollution when it occurs outside our homes. We usually see or smell smog, the exhaust from factories, or litter scattered about parks or beaches. For problems like these, we can volunteer to help, contact our congressman, or get involved politically. While we can pick up and not create litter ourselves, taking on the big guys often means bringing in the big guns.
What many of us don’t realize, however, is that there is often as much air pollution inside our homes as there is outside, and that affects us directly! Molds, pollen, tobacco smoke, chemicals used for cleaning – yikes! All of this can make it difficult to breathe while in our homes or offices and worse, make it difficult to sleep. What can we do?
Well to help eliminate this problem, we offer these self-care tips to make your home less polluted, and much easier to sleep in. Use them – and snooze with them – on this Earth Day:
- Dust and vacuum regularly – if left unattended, bedrooms can harbor pollen or dust mites, which are microscopic organisms that feed on your skin. What’s the solution? Dust and clean your bedroom regularly! Check every other week at most; once a week at least! Don’t forget that old mattresses are a breeding ground for dust mites too, so if yours is eight years old or more, getting a better one is the easiest answer!
- Ventilate well – regardless of whether you think it’s polluted, fresh air is better than the stale air that collects in your bedrooms over time. Open windows and doors as weather permits, both at work and at home.
- Use “green” or eco-friendly cleaning products – just as you want a mattress that’s CertiPUR-US® Certified, you want to stick with cleaning products confirmed as safe for the environment. Harsh chemicals in an enclosed space are even more dangerous than those released into the air because you breathe them indirectly! The EPA’s Greener Products Guide is a good place to start in keeping both your home – and the environment – healthy for better sleep.
- Add plant life – Believe it or not, many common household plants can naturally filter your air. A list of good plants to have in your home for better air quality includes bamboo palms, English ivy, ficus, Boston fern, and peace lily among many others. Just do the research and rejuvenate your home!
- Obtain a device to clean the air – This is an extreme solution to be sure, but if you’re just not certain if your home’s air is clean enough, it may be right for you. High-efficiency particulate air filtration, or “HEPA” filtration systems, have become popular in recent years, particularly for those who suffer from serious allergies. There are many varieties though, so compare and as always, search for those made with green manufacturing practices.
Bottom line, while the battle to stop outdoor air pollution is practically what Earth Day was created to fight, indoor air pollution affects us more directly. Since we do have some control over that, if we want to get better sleep, we need to do a better job of keeping our air less polluted overall.
Unfortunately, air pollution isn’t the only thing that could be keeping us awake this Earth Day.
Polluted Light Can Keep You Awake Too
Here’s where things start to get a little complicated. As human beings with knowledge of electricity, we have found a way to utilize both the dark and the light parts of our day. Unfortunately, our way of doing that has so far been with artificial lighting, which can pollute our environment (and keep us awake) too.
The key idea in dealing with light pollution is understanding the impact of blue LED light on sleep. Because blue LED lights last longer, give off less heat, and use less electricity than both incandescent and compact fluorescent light sources, you’d think light derived from just the blue light spectrum would be better for the environment. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
The problem with all artificial lights, including blue light emitting diodes (LEDs), is that they disrupt human sleep patterns. This is because the body’s circadian rhythm, or “biological clock” is based on sunlight: when it’s light, it’s time to produce cortisol (“the stress hormone”) and heat up; when it’s dark, it’s time to produce melatonin (“the sleep hormone”) and cool down.
Artificial light confuses that process, leaving the body unsure of when to do its thing.
Because of all of the things that make blue LED light so useful, we find it everywhere: in our smartphones, digital clocks, tablets, TVs, computers, and so on. Our electronic devices light up because of blue LEDs. Worse, blue light’s shorter wavelength makes the body more sensitive to it, suppressing melatonin production more than any other kind of light. With blue light everywhere though, what can a person do to get better sleep?
- Stop using electronic devices before bed: Experts say that if we can turn our phones, TV and so on 30-60 minutes before bed, our bodies will get that it’s time to sleep.
- Dim other lights gradually before sleeping: Strange as this may sound, gradually making other kinds of light lower helps too. Natural light doesn’t disappear as soon as the sun sets, so a gradual dimming matches what we humans are used to.
- Close curtains, shades, and blinds: This should be a no-brainer, and we’re probably doing this already. If we live in urban areas, we may be exposed to street lights or electronic signs, some of which may be blue LED. Shut them out.
- Use our premium mattress: Remember what we said about the body cooling down and producing melatonin at bedtime. Besides being manufactured to minimize environmental impact, Lull mattresses transfer heat. This means that the gel-infused memory foam keeps the body at a cool 69 degrees, scientifically proven to promote sleep. It simulates what Mother Nature has done for years, and makes light pollution less of a factor.
If nature’s formula on how to sleep well is absolute darkness and a cool place to sleep, making sure we cover both bases should be enough to battle pollution and get us to bed. There’s one other form of pollution to consider though…
Noise Will Be Noise
Sadly, we live in a world with a lot of artificial light, and a lot of extra noise too. Some of us are especially unfortunate, living near airports, highways, or construction sites. Worse, as with air pollution, sometimes our noise pollution comes from within, whether it’s a crying baby, snoring partner, or couple next door fighting in our apartment building. What’s a sleeper to do?
While contacting the airport or our city government to complain about the noise may help, it ultimately falls to us to just deal with it. As with light pollution, there aren’t a ton of options, but here are four quick ideas for better sleep:
- Distract yourself: At this point, we all probably know about white noise. For those of us who need a quick refresher though, it’s a droning, repetitive tone that distracts from other noise and can help us sleep. (Scientifically speaking, it’s all the noises together, but that isn’t so important here. Just get a fan, turn on some classical music, or turn the TV on low to beat noise pollution and sleep better.)
- Learn to meditate: Kundalini yoga and other breathing exercises can put us in a trance-like state that can help us forget the noise and catch z’s. It takes a bit of practice, but if noise pollution is really keeping us awake, there are worse ways to spend Earth Day.
- Block the sound: If hearing comes from our ears, why not fill them with something other than noise pollution? Simple earplugs can be helpful in just cutting off unwanted sounds and getting to sleep. Not always comfortable, but a related option could be to use earbuds and just listen to something else. (There are even white noise applications available for download, so we can combine the two!)
- Relax: Similar to utilizing breathing techniques, there are muscle relation exercises that require concentration, and thus make it harder to notice noise pollution. If noise pollution makes us feel tense, relaxation can counteract its effects. Using the best mattress in addition to these exercises makes beating noise pollution easier still
Earth Day began to combat pollution in all of its forms, a challenge that continues some 48 years later. This Earth Day, being mindful of the lesser discussed forms of pollution can ultimately give us better, restful sleep and fight off the effects of insomnia. It’s hard to save the planet without energy, and it’s nearly impossible to have enough energy without getting enough sleep.
Dealing with air pollution in the community and at home, being careful about how and when we use light and killing the noise that keeps us up are vitally important. They’re good ways to fight our “personal pollution,” and be up for Earth Day year in and year out. Sleep well!