By Jeah Kessha
Summary: If you are sleeping on or near anything synthetic or metal in mattress or bedframe, your sleep is compromised. Modern Sleep Technology has not improved anything and has taken us away from the goal of optimal sleep. Natural materials interact and harmonize with our body in several ways which synthetics dramatically alter.
Several years ago I had the idea to completely turn the heat off in my house at night to save energy. I was curious to see if my hypothesis was right, that there was some way to stay warm even in subzero temperatures, using only the blankets. It stood to reason that if I piled enough bedding on top of me, I would eventually sleep comfortably and not wake up tense and cold. What I found actually led to a huge personal discovery. Some bedding materials would be insulating and comfortable and I could sleep oblivious to the frigid air within inches of my skin (wool and kapok). Other materials would not provide the warmth or sleep quality no matter how thick the blankets were, and I would end up cold, tense, and not rested (synthetics). I was amazed, and my curiosity was aroused. WHY? I will present here what I discovered in two nights, but has taken me the next several years to understand and to tweak for varying seasons.
You might be aware from my research with sleep ergonomics (Sweet Dreams on a Hard Surface), I am searching for answers that are not easy to find. My questions fall inbetween the cracks of established ideas and categories. This is another journey on my quest for the ultimate natural sleep. What I discovered not only helped me save a little on my heating bill, it inadvertently added a dramatic improvement to my sleep experience. When I used specific organic bedding materials (kapok and wool) without heating the house, I was sleeping better by far than I ever experienced when heating the air of my home and using less blankets. I started falling into a blissful sleep and waking up refreshed in a way I had not experienced before that I could remember. For now, I will just focus on standard bedding for the house. But I will mention briefly, just to show how far this can go. I have taken my experiment to extremes. I can roll up in my pieces of organic wool and sleep on the ground without having any feeling of being outside, other than the incredible fresh air that adds yet another dimension to quality sleep.
As a side benefit–I believe I have found the answer to the so called ‘energy crisis’. But this article is about sleep, health and vitality. So let’s look at that.
There are several detrimental effects of synthetic bedding or clothing on our biology.
Synthetic materials near or on the skin interrupt the body’s natural electric field which interrupts the flow of chi. This chi- force is also known as piezo electricity. This flow is important for establishing homeostasis and relaxation. It also effects temperature regulation of the body. Natural organic bedding thus optimizes cellular respiration as well as temperature regulation to help from getting too hot or too cold.
Due to several synergistic effects, our body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure rise, when we use synthetic materials for clothing or sleeping.
As the body’s metabolism works throughout the night, perspiration is released as water vapor. Synthetic bedding and foam in mattresses trap and hold this moisture because air can’t circulate. The metals in the synthetic material (as well as mattress springs and metal bedframes) actually short out the electrical flow in our body (synthetics come from petroleum). As body heat and moisture build up, and your cells are literally having trouble breathing, your heart rate increases, which elevates blood pressure and causes shallower sleep. Also stress hormones increase like cortisol and adrenaline due to the hidden stress fight or flight reaction going on, which further stops deep sleep dead in its tracks.
A bed that promotes air flow and allows perspiration to evaporate helps the body cool itself effectively and maintain a comfortable body temperature. Natural Materials Keep You Comfortable
Excerpt from “Naked Beneath Your Clothing” by John Veltheim
Chi (Qi) is the name given to the specific energy frequencies that run along ‘meridians’
(pathways) in the body. This energy is utilized by acupuncturists and other health therapies to influence their patients. The chi flow is a very important component of body function. A
healthy flow of chi promotes a healthy nervous system, blood vessels, lymph drainage, etc.
Many interesting experiments have been done on the effect that clothing has on chi flow within the body. During the authors’ years as Principal of the Brisbane College of Traditional Acupuncture and Natural Therapies in Australia, many experiments were conducted using highly sensitive equipment that could monitor and measure the flow of chi along the meridians. An acupuncture needle could be inserted into an acupuncture point to demonstrate the effect it has on the energy levels in other parts of the body along where that meridian flowed. For example, a needle inserted just below the knee at a point called stomach 36, would demonstrate an increased flow of energy along the whole stomach meridian running up the leg, through the stomach, up into the chest, and up to the eyes. Stimulating the needle can effectively help to balance, and heal, a stomach disorder (such as a stomach ulcer), or perhaps increase the energy flow to the eyes and improve vision. Some interesting experiments demonstrated the following:
When a patient was naked and had the needle stimulated, there was a measurable flow of
energy – we’ll call it 100 units. If that person then wore nylon underpants while this
experiment was being done, and the needle was being stimulated, the effective end result of the flow was a reduction of energy flow of up to 60%. Repetitive experiments demonstrated that if a patient wore nylon underwear while receiving acupuncture treatments, that patient would need twice as many treatments to get the same results. [Cotton underwear reduced the flow by 20%.]
The body as an electrical field
The surface of the skin is an electrical field that is constantly interacting with our
environment and our inner body systems. The nervous system is another set of electrical
circuits. The two combine to create varying electrical potentials that can easily be measured. This electrical potential is altered by the influence of different types of clothing. Synthetic clothing builds up a static charge on the body so that when a piece of metal is touched, the person gets a shock. Practitioners who work with bioenergetic therapy have found the static has detrimental effects on the body’s electrical network which, in turn, affects health.
Excerpt from Even Healy at http://www.evanhealy.com/home/skinbreathes
One of the essential facts I learned as an aesthetician is that the skin is alive; it has a rhythm, an inhalation and an exhalation. It absorbs (inhales) oxygen, nutrients, senses light, and regulates heat and cold. It releases (exhales) carbon dioxide, sheds dead skin cells and completely regenerates itself every 28 days. As I would touch and move my hands over the face, I was amazed at the skin’s response. Its aliveness was visible in its ability to transform the natural skin care preparations I was applying, the warmth of my touch activating the skin’s ability to absorb nutritive oils, serums and hydrosols.
This sheath of protective covering we call skin is remarkable. It is not only an organ of perception; it also interacts with other organ systems such as digestion and is the on-site manufacturer of roughly fifty percent of our immune cells. The skin is an unbelievably flexible and resilient fabric providing shape to the skeletal and muscular body. It is in a constant state of homeostasis, displays exceptional healing abilities, and as our external nervous system, declares our emotions to the world.
The homeopathic philosophy, ‘less is more’, is applicable when evaluating skin treatment lines. For instance, generally I don’t recommend a cream on the skin in the evening. During the night metabolism and respiration have slowed and we are in our deepest rest. One of the most important functions of the skin during the night is to repair and renew. Along with the lungs and kidneys, the skin is one of three major pathways the body uses to release metabolic impurities from the digestive process, and it does this through thousands of tiny dermal pores, therefore the less used on the skin at night, the better. When needed however, I suggest a small amount of one of our nutritive Oil Serums in combination with our hydrating Facial Tonic Hydrosols. This lightly vitalizing natural oil and water combination, so similar in structure to sebum, allows the skin to breathe.
The fundamentals necessary to creating and maintaining healthy skin include a balance of nourishing foods and pure water, time spent in quiet contemplation, and exercise that encourages a healthy sweat and deep breathing.
The skin has a rhythm, an inhalation and an exhalation.
The skin is made up of literally millions of tiny dermal passages regulating the inward movement of air, fluids, heat and light. In healthy skin, these passages are unobstructed, and each breath activates the absorption of nutritive substances and stimulates vital functions of a restorative nature.
A short podcast of a Paleo Friendly organic bed designed by the author and stuffed with chemical free wool and kapok.
Thermoregulation — your body’s heat distribution system — is strongly linked to sleep cycles. Even lying down increases sleepiness by redistributing heat in your body from the core to the periphery.
When you sleep, your body’s internal temperature actually drops to its lowest level of the 24 hour circadian cycle, generally about four hours after you fall asleep. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it supports your body’s natural temperature drop.
I will personally verify that, which I mentioned earllier, I discovered as a side-benefit of my original experiment (enhanced deeper sleep). I would add the caveat that this is in general, for the healthy body. For people with compromised health, cold is not an option. In fact, this is one reason why people with health issues tend to move south. But we can all work with our edge of ‘cold’ and tweak the temperature so we are slightly uncomfortable on the cold side. As the body adapts and health improves, you keep pushing the edge colder and colder. It is a self-perpetuating healing tool. The exposure to something colder than you are used to does many things for your health. This is a therapy called “Cold Thermogenesis”. It not only stimulates metabolism and helps your thyroid, it also causes a powerful detox effect and reduces adrenaline and cortisol.
Interestingly, while a cool room and a lower core temperature may help you sleep better, cold hands and feet will not. Because blood flow is a prime method of distributing heat evenly throughout your body, if your extremities are cold it could be a sign of poor blood flow, which results in sleeplessness. The solution for this is simple: put on a pair of warm socks or place a hot water bottle near your feet. And most importantly, make sure those socks are wool. Through my personal experimenting to take cold sleeping to the extreme, I find doubling up on wool socks, with the outer one a couple sizes larger than the inner one, is a nice solution. You can also throw an extra wool blanket over the lower part of the bed.
In summer or warmer climates, a different approach is needed. Basically keeping the idea to use minimal bedding and clothing which is non-synthetic and non-metal in the bed frame is the general rule of thumb. Instead of using the air conditioner and putting on blankets, turn off the air conditioner, open windows, and take the blankets off. I found I can get a really nice cold effect by using a light cotton blanket or sheet or sometimes nothing during the hot weather.
Humidity is Linked to Allergies
We create a warm, humid sleep environment each night by climbing into bed and falling asleep. That’s because we generate body heat and perspiration. In fact, we all perspire (and respire) about a cup each night. Just think, your body is 70-80% water and your metabolism is a ‘heat pump’. Our mattress is exposed to this heat and moisture. It must manage these conditions efficiently to provide comfortable, restorative sleep.
Because synthetic bedding environments are more humid and can take a long time to dry out, they provide the perfect climate for mold, mildew, and dust mites to thrive, all of which affect breathing and allergies.
First use bedding which does not trap moisture. Cotton batting is extremely prone to mold. Even though it is non-synthetic and it doesn’t hurt the body’s subtle electrical system, it holds moisture and does not wick it. (Cotton fabric, however, makes a quality option for the outside.) Latex does not breath well. The best materials for temperature regulation, transport of moisture, and mold resistance are wool and kapok, each of which have moisture -wicking properties.
Kapok is a downy fiber that resembles cotton, but since it grows in the rain forest, it has adapted to the moist environment. It is a moisture-resistant fiber with a hollow tuber inside each fiber. This hollow tube allows air to flow on a microscopic scale.
Kapok fiber’s essential attributes are many: buoyant, resilient, moisture resistant, vermin resistant and smooth, kapok possess powerful performance in a lightweight package. It’s said that kapok fiber repels water like rain on a duck’s back. When a substance does this we call it hydrophobic. This hydrophobic quality results in the quick-drying, buoyant and moisture-resistant properties, which makes kapok fiber remarkable among natural fibers. Kapok fiber supports as much as 38.6 times its own weight in water. Buoyancy is lost slowly; with one test showing only 10 percent loss after 30 days of water immersion. No other natural fiber is better than kapok for water-safety equipment. When kapok fibers are put under tension they completely return to their original length when the tension is removed. Kapok fiber is devoid of nutritional content thus kapok fiber is vermin resistant. Kapok fibers are smooth and missing the scales of animal hair so it won’t mat or felt easily. It weighs only one-eighth as much as cotton, is as warm as wool and is as smooth as silk.
Interior structure creates flexibility and absorbency
The cortical cells also have a complex interior structure. The smallest component within these cells is a spring-like structure, which gives wool its flexibility, elasticity, resilience and wrinkle recovery properties.
This spring-like structure is surrounded by a matrix, which contains high sulphur proteins that readily attract and absorb water molecules. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water without feeling wet. It also absorbs and retains dyestuffs very well, helps remove sweat and absorbs odours.
The matrix also creates wool’s fire-resistant and antistatic properties.
Absorbency creates comfort
When wool absorbs moisture, it produces heat, so if you go from a warm room into a cold, damp night wearing a wool jersey, the wool picks up water vapour from the air, keeping you warm. The reverse occurs when you go back into the warm room – the moisture in your jersey passes into the atmosphere, cooling you down. Tiny pores in the cuticle cells allow water vapour to pass through the wool fibre. This makes wool comfortable to wear–or sleep on– in both warm and cool conditions.
WOOL IS WATER RESISTANT.
The quality that distinguishes wool fibers from hair or fur is the presence of a hard, water-repellent outer layer that surrounds each hollow fiber, overlapping like shingles on a roof. The fiber’s core absorbs up to 30% of its weight in moisture vapor without becoming damp or clammy, while the hard outer layer protects against outside liquid moisture. Water is repelled, but humidity is absorbed, and that helps with thermal regulation.
WOOL IS MOISTURE WICKING.
Besides keeping outside moisture away from the skin, wool also wicks away perspiration. When you sweat, that sweat cools your skin-which is not what you want when it’s cold outside. Wool fibers absorb perspiration and wick it away from your body, thus keeping you warm and dry.
WOOL IS A WONDERFUL INSULATOR.
The crimp of the wool produces insulating air spaces that retain body heat. These warm air pockets next to the skin are kept dry while the hollow wool fibers absorb moisture vapors and the hard outer surface moves liquid moisture away from the body.
WOOL REGULATES TEMPERATURE AND IS BREATHABLE.
Wool has a very wide comfort range, essential for adapting to changing weather conditions. This unique property makes wool the perfect fiber to be used in the production of outerwear, because it has the versatile ability to warm in colder conditions and cool in warmer conditions.
We all need a safe and comfortable place to lay our head at night. We at Carolina Morning are connoisseurs of sleep, and we want you to sleep so well that you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and get your day started.
If you sleep better, you feel better, you look better, you live better.
We have put years of designing, testing, tweaking, and re-tweaking until we have come up with our current organic kapok/wool futon. Many people believe we have the best bed they have ever slept on. When it comes to bedding, more is not better. That’s why our minimalist Kapok/Wool Futon is luxury as it’s best. Or if you are one of the ‘hard core’ our Paleo Pad works even better.
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