Greening your life, doesn’t require you to overhaul your house. In previous weeks, we discussed small ways you can green your kitchen and your bathroom; we’ve even started a series for greening your baby. This week, let’s take a look at the bedroom.
When John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded the song Give Peace a Chance from their hotel bedroom in Montreal during a 10 day honeymoon bed-in, it was hardly random that they chose their sleeping quarters as the place to launch their political campaign against war.”We are just looking for a little peace,” John wrote in a song about the event.
For usual folk, the bedroom is a room set aside for life’s most intimate moments – which includes the obvious, plus sleeping, dressing, reading and even working (if you have a laptop).
Times have changed since Lennon and Ono started their not-so-private revolution in the bedroom. The spirit of activism has changed too. Today each of us knows that to stay healthy and keep the planet green, every one of us needs to nurture and develop our own inner-activist.
And the bedroom, where we spend at least one-third of our time, is a great place to start a mini-green revolution.
Some studies have shown that people are more exposed to toxins and nasty chemicals inside the house than on city streets. For that reason it is wise to make sure that if you are about to purchase sheets, furniture or mattresses you look into ones that are low emitters of formaldehyde and other chemicals and glues.
Stores around the world, many of which sell through the Internet, can supply you with non-emitting natural paints and thinners to help you create soft and clean walls that don’t interfere with your bodily processes as it slumbers off into the night. And if you can recommend any to buy in Israel, please post them in the comments section.
Entering dreamland and consolidating our daily experiences into memory are two very important processes that occur in the bedroom. And research has shown that our state of sleep today is much different than it was for our ancestors just a century ago, says sleep expert William Dement, M.D., Ph.D., of the Stanford University Sleep Research Center in The Promise of Sleep (Delacorte Press, 1999).
Our great-great grandparents slept on average 1.5 hours more per night, he says.
Before the advent of the electric light bulb, our ancestors drifted off not long after the setting sun and rose with the cock’s crow in the morning. Today, busy days and unhealthy sleeping environments mean that we often don’t have enough sleep.
“If you can see your hand after the lights are turned out, your bedroom is too light,” says Carol Venolia, a US-based ecological architect who has written the book, Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House published in June 2006.
Scientists warn, Venolia explained, that if there is too much light in your bedroom, cast from streetlights, light from the bathroom etcetera, melatonin production in our bodies is disturbed which can lead to irritability and long-term health problems.
Consider soft lighting in your bedroom and avoid checking emails just before you plan to doze off. Even the strong light from the screen can give your body a jolt of light, and can have the same effect as drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee just before bed.
Houseplants can aid to your peace of mind and ones like cheese plants don’t just produce oxygen, they filter out a lot of pollutants and toxins.
(Other toxins to avoid are mothballs, used in closets to prevent moths from chewing your wool sweaters. Instead use cedar chips, rosemary, mint and peppercorns, added to cedar oil. Stored in your cupboard, it will keep the moths at bay.)
Pay attention to the design in your room. You want to be given the feeling of being cradled and protected when sleeping. Avoid clutter and bright colours.
Feng Shui experts have known this for some time. They also say to face your bed towards a door and away from drafts of the window. A strong headboard behind you is necessary for absorbing negative energies.
Nader Khalili, a visionary architect from Iran, now in California, builds “bedwombs” in his home. He digs out small shells from the side walls of his naturally crafted homes – shells that are big and deep enough for someone to sleep inside.
“It is just like a pouch that becomes a bedwomb,” he says in an online interview.
“I see them as bedwombs,” says Khalili, “because they are more in line with our own bodies. They are organic forms. You don’t see any straight lines in your body, all these angles and forms, and so on. Somewhere along the way the history of humans became very square, angular!”
While not all of us have the desire, time or resources to build a “Khalili bedwomb,” there are still some basic and necessary things to do, in order to keep the bedroom a healthy and protected environment.
Sleep as far away as possible from the noise of the street and from electric equipment that makes noise or emits electromagnetic radiation.
Experts say that keeping the heat down in the bedroom (to 65 degrees Fahrenheit) is healthier than jacking up the radiator. Avoid the use of electric blankets and excessive heat that you don’t really need and the planet will thank you.
Also consider using energy-saving bulbs. They will keep your energy bills low and can last up to 12 times longer than the conventional bulbs.
How does your bed feel? Is it comfortable? Watch out for dust mites and mold. Keep the room clean, fold down the sheets on your bed so it can air out and clean your duvet and blankets every six months to get rid of skin scales and house dust mite faeces.
Some colour theorists believe that soothing colours will help put your body into a sleepy frame of mind. Lavender, blue, or light green are among the most popular.
In the morning, take it slow and let yourself awaken gradually with the sun. (Eco Rabbi might say different, because the Torah says one should awake like a lion!)
(This article was first printed at www.eolife.org)