One of the most important items on my to-do list is sleep. We spend on the average about 6.5 hours sleeping per night. That is 2372.5 hours annually. Our sleep time is our repair time for the human body. Protein synthesis happens, amino acids are utilized to repair muscle and the brain recovers from the trauma we create in a day.
While certainly we might need more sleep, it is the quality of sleep that is most important. Starting with a good foundation in the form of a mattress is incredibly important. Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra bucks on a quality mattress. My recommendation to patients is to purchase a medium firm mattress. And don’t just lie on it for 5 minutes when you are mattress shopping. Anything feels good for 5 minutes! Try lying on it for 45 minutes. It is a decision you will have to live with for the next 8-10 years. Don’t be bullied by the salesperson either. Otherwise you will be sold the most expensive mattress instead of the one you need. Also check with your doctor about a prescription for medical necessity to purchase a new mattress. This gives you two possibilities of saving money, depending on where you live. In Florida I can write a prescription which will allow the patient to purchase the mattress tax free and they can also pay for it with their HSA (Health Savings Account).
Next step is your bedding. Sheets and pillowcases are a must. And who doesn’t love slipping into a set of luscious sheets. I remember my first time house sitting when I was in college and the guest bed had Egyptian cotton sheets. That was the moment I became a sheet snob! The sheets felt like butter and I felt like royalty. I remember searching for the tag on the sheet bottom to figure out what I had just experienced. No more 200 count sheets for me! But then I found bamboo sheets.
One Degree of Change #29: Buy Bamboo Sheets and Towels!
Always in the interest of protecting the environment, I wanted to use sheets that were made from a renewable source. We have a local vendor (www.ilovetangie.com, Angie Ringler, who now exclusively sells natural cleaning products) that used to have a small store with renewable sourced items. She suggested that I try the sheets that were made from bamboo. I was thinking to myself, “How soft can sheets made from bamboo actually be and how are they a renewable source?!”. So I did a little research, okay, a lot of research and here’s what I found.
Top Ten Ecological reasons for using bamboo as a textile:
1.Growth: Bamboo is in the grass family. It is the fastest growing plant in the world. Some species grow at a rate of 35 inches in a 24 hour period.
2.Harvesting: Once a new shoot emerges from the ground, the new cane will reach its full height in just eight to ten weeks. Each cane reaches maturity in three to five years. It is a grass and so it regenerates after being cut just like a lawn without the need for replanting.
3.Land use: Since bamboo can be used as food, fiber and shelter with relative ease, it can be grown in smaller areas due to its clumping nature. It grows densely which eases the pressure on land use.
4.Greenhouse gases: Bamboo forests decrease the CO2 and generates 35% more oxygen than regular trees.
5.Deforestation: Because of its quick growth and multitude of uses, bamboo can encourage communities to not utilize native forests. When a forest is cut down for use, it doesn’t grow back. It has to be planted for regrowth. Bamboo is similar to cutting grass, which also encourages growth.
6.Water use: Bamboo requires very little water and holds up well in harsh weather. Compared to a thirsty crop of cotton which takes 5238 gallons of water to produce only 2.2 lbs. of cotton and 73% of cotton is grown on irrigated land.
7.Soil erosion: Replanting crops like cotton encourages soil erosion. Bamboo has an intricate root system that never gets interrupted. It acts as a watershed and can weave a matrix along river banks and deforested areas to preserve the soil.
8.Biodegradable: Sunlight and microorganisms can degrade bamboo since the fibers are made from cellulose. When bamboo clothing has reached its end life, it can be composted.
9.Pesticides and Fertilizers: A monster benefit of using bamboo as a fiber is that it requires no fertilizers or pesticides. Bamboo contains an antimicrobial agent called bamboo-kun which acts as a natural pesticide and fungicide.
10.Feeds the animals: The leaves, stems and soft shoots are the main food sources for the giant panda, red panda, bamboo lemurs, chimpanzees, mountain gorillas and elephants.
The question still remains… “How soft can bamboo sheets and towels be? They are amazingly soft and breathable. When I brought my sheets home and unpackaged them (which I recycled, of course), I was a bit disappointed because of the roughness I felt. I washed them and when I was transferring them from the washer to the dryer, I was very worried. They felt like cardboard. Yikes! The dryer cycle finished and I admittedly was not excited about my purchase. Opening the dryer I found the softest, buttery set of sheets. I thought a miracle had been performed in my dryer. And this happened each time I laundered them. I couldn’t wait till it was “nighty-night time”!
I am known to sleep with the fan on the “Gale Force Wind” setting because I am a sleeping inferno. These sheets were cool, breathable, luscious and felt better than 1000 thread Egyptian sheets. I’m a happy sleeper! And the bamboo towels are soft and extremely absorbent. Being in Florida, I also appreciate the quick drying of the towels. Less likely to smell musty.