Midtown Raleigh News

Tips to sleep better, breathe easier in 2013

My resolution for 2013: Get more rest. It sounds simple, but it is definitely not easy.

The first step is to get to bed earlier. That’s done. Getting to sleep is another matter.

I’m guessing many of you have minds that race the way mine does at night. One of the concerns that keeps creeping in is: “What am I breathing in during the eight hours my head is on the pillow?”

I thought I was the only person who worries about such things, but according to Joey Ashley, co-owner of The Organic Bedroom, I am not.

A little background: most mattresses are made with synthetic materials, such as polyurethane foam, which is a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds known as VOCs, held together with an adhesive made with formaldehyde.

On top of that, most manufacturers treat their products with chemical fire retardants to comply with a 2006 Consumer Product Safety Commission standard that was issued to reduce fires and fire-related deaths because of mattress fires caused mostly by smoking and lighting candles in bed.

No studies have been done that prove breathing in these substances during our time of slumber is harmful – but conversely, no studies have been done that prove there are not any harmful long-term effects.

Ashley and his wife, Vicki, opened The Organic Bedroom in June to provide Triangle customers an alternative. Fortunately, it is possible to comply with the standards using natural materials.

Ashley says he is seeing a huge swell in the number of people looking for a healthier solution. The Organic Bedroom is the only store in the Carolinas that allows people to see, touch and lie down on organic and natural mattresses he says. The store draws customers from as far away as Charlotte, Asheville, Columbia, S.C., and Atlanta.

The store offers a variety of products – some certified organic, others that are made from natural and chemical-free materials but haven’t been certified organic. The certification process drives the price up, so the Ashleys stock a range of options.

“That’s what we are trying to offer people: healthy choices in all price ranges,” Vicki Ashley said.

Raleigh resident Arielle Dozier is shopping for a bed for her 2-year-old daughter. When Dozier started researching mattress options, she realized how many chemicals are used in regular mattresses. “Having kids these days, there is so much information out there about what in their environment is harmful,” Dozier said. “I just want something a little healthier than the standard.”

Dozier initially thought buying online was her only choice. She was excited to learn that Raleigh has a store where she could see products in person.

“The health of my children is a top priority for me. I would rest easier knowing that my child is sleeping on something that won’t harm her.”

If you are interested in breathing cleaner air while you sleep, consider these suggestions:

• Buy organic or chemical-free bedding and furniture when possible

• Before bringing any new items into your home that might be emitting volatile organic compounds, called off-gassing, air them out –preferably outside – at least until any smell has dissipated

• Dust regularly to remove chemical residues that are released as products break down.

• Add houseplants to your space – they filter toxins out of the air naturally

My mattress is several years old now, so it has already done a good bit of off-gassing and I am not going to replace it immediately. But I am revising my New Year’s resolutions to include dusting more often, springing for some chemical-free sheets and pillows, and adding houseplants to all of the bedrooms of my home.

That will allow me to breath easier in 2013.