By Marisa Belger
The kitchen may be the most popular room in the house, but the bedroom is where you clock the most time. Human beings dedicate one third of their lives to sleeping. With good reason: Sleeping refreshes the body and mind, recharging you for the next day. And while you can’t control many of the factors that interfere with slumber -- noisy neighbors, early-bird toddlers, antsy dogs -- a few simple changes can transform your ordinary bedroom into a snoozing sanctuary.
Emily Anderson, eco-style expert and author of Eco Chic Home: Rethink, Reuse, and Remake Your Way to Sustainable Style, has developed a 10-step plan to improve your bedroom health.
1. Leave your shoes at the door
Going shoeless does more than keep your house clean. “The rubber on the soles of your shoes picks up chemicals and toxins from the pavement,” says Anderson. “You don’t want to bring those things into your bedroom.”
2. Manage your mattress
Rotate your mattress every six months. “Rotating gets rid of dust mites and toxins and will prolong the life of the mattress,” says Anderson. Flip the mattress both horizontally and vertically. Forget what side you’re on? Anderson recommends pinning a note to the foot of the bed.
2. Chill out
“Sleeping in a cooler temperature is not just the green thing to do -- you actually sleep better when the thermostat is down,” says Anderson. Aim for 68 degrees in the winter. Toes still cold? Toss on an extra blanket.
4. Cover with curtains
Window coverings are key. “You lose a tremendous amount of warm and cool air through windows,” notes Anderson. But it’s not the cracks that are the culprit. “Most windowpanes are not engineered to be energy-saving,” says Anderson. He recommends choosing curtains over blinds because they can be easily removed and washed. “And they actually cover more of the window.”
5. Don’t ignore the closet
When was the last time you took inventory of your wardrobe? Exactly. Anderson suggests digging into your closet and pulling out what you no longer need. “Getting rid of excess is one of the best ways to save money,” she says. “You become more conscious of the things you own.”
6. Add a splash of vinegar
“Vinegar is a great natural antibacterial agent,” says Anderson. “When washing sheets, add a cup with your regular detergent.”
7. Dry naturally
“Once or twice a season, dry your sheets in the sunshine,” says Anderson. “Not putting sheets in the dryer all the time means they’ll last longer -- plus, the sun is a natural whitener.”
8. Protect your pillow
Pillows are susceptible to stains from makeup and natural face oils. Anderson recommends always covering your pillow with a washable case. “A pillowcase will protect your pillow and allow you to keep it longer,” she says.
9. Choose lavender
Trade stinky mothballs for the soothing scent of lavender. The fragrant herb is a natural moth and mite repellent. “Homemade sachets are easy to make,” says Anderson. “Buy dried lavender in bulk and sew a little pillow. They also make great gifts.”
10. Illuminate naturally
Anderson recommends setting up your bedroom to optimize the lighting. “Arrange your bed so it’s facing at least one window. Natural light wakes you up and makes it easier for you to get out of bed in the morning.”
Marisa Belger's work has appeared in Travel + Leisure Family, Natural Health, Prevention and on the TODAYShow.com. She was a founding editor of Lime.com -- which specialized in wellness and sustainable living -- and she collaborated with author Josh Dorfman on his bestselling books, The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide to Easy, Stylish, Green Living and The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget: Save Money. Save Time. Save the Planet..
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