Healthy Renovations in the Bedroom Will Improve Your Sleep

A proper night's rest has a positive effect on mental clarity, energy, memory and even coordination. Most of us spend one third of our lives in bed. Consequently, the air quality in the bedroom is particularly important. Poor sleep can be caused by a number of factors including airborne allergens.

Often, the sufferer may mistake allergic reactions with a cold virus or other internal factors. For some the symptoms may have persisted for so long the allergic reactions seem normal.

If you suffer any of the following symptoms on a regular basis you may have allergens in your bedroom. The U.S. National Institutes of Health compiled the following list of symptoms:

  • Sneezing often accompanied by a runny or clogged nose
  • Coughing and postnasal drip
  • Itching eyes, nose, and throat
  • Allergic shiners (dark circles under the eyes caused by increased blood flow near the sinuses)
  • The "allergic salute" (in a child, persistent upward rubbing of the nose that causes a crease mark on the nose)
  • Watering eyes
  • Conjunctivitis (an inflammation of the membrane that lines the eyelids, causing red-rimmed, swollen eyes, and crusting of the eyelids.)

In people who are not allergic, inhaled particles are either coughed out or moved down the throat. In the sensitive person, a chain reaction occurs which releases histamine and other chemicals. These powerful chemicals contract certain cells that line some small blood vessels in the nose. The result is swelling and congestion in the nasal passages.

What most allergy suffers may not know is that there is something they can do to make their home a healthier place to live.

The materials that go into building and renovating a house affect the indoor air quality. Using healthy building materials means you will breathe more easily at home.

To get a rough idea of the health of the air in your bedroom leave the doors and windows closed all day then take a deep breath. What do you smell? Is it musty? This means there is mold in the air. Some types of mold are toxic so it is imperative that the problem should be addressed. Look for sources of moisture in the room and specific areas that are moist and warm. You may have a leak or condensation problem.

A smell is an indication there are substances in the air carrying an odour. Old blankets or towels stashed in a cupboard could be the culprit or it may be a damp piece of rug near the window.

Particleboard is commonly used in furniture such as desks and beds. The board is comprised of wood particles held together with glue. The glue emits noxious compounds in minute amounts. For sensitive people the amounts are high enough to trigger a reaction. Two simple ways to identify particleboard is to look for an absence of wood grain and to consider the weight of the object; particleboard is very heavy. While some European countries have demanded board made with low-emission glue, it is not consistently available in Canada at this time.

Carpets and carpet pads can contribute to off gassing as well as act as a gathering place for dirt and moisture and a breeding ground for dust mites, mold and bacteria. The healthiest solution is to replace carpets with hard-finish flooring such as ceramic tiles or hardwood and use natural fibre area rugs that are not glued to the floor.

Anti-stain compounds sprayed on furniture can also contribute noxious fumes to the air you breathe all night.

None of these scenarios alone may be a problem but when combined they turn the air into a chemical soup.

Although the true health risks are not well established, many authorities advise caution around some electrical appliances that generate electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Minimize electric appliances near the bed or other areas where you spend considerable time.

Due to the direct relationship between poor air quality and health problems, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has done some extensive research on the topic and offers information for consumers.

To help homeowners assess the health of their home and make practical renovations, CMHC has created the Healthy Housing Renovation Planner. The Planner is a practical and interactive 300-page guide to planning a renovation - whether you are hiring a contractor or doing the work yourself. It includes money-saving project worksheets, a comparison of building materials, a video, and the results of 16 years of housing research and expertise complied from 130 studies. CMHC's Healthy Housing Renovations Planner costs $34.95 and can be ordered online.

In 1997, CMHC published Building Materials for the Environmentally Hypersensitive, a practical sourcebook detailing common building materials and the health issues associated with them. This comprehensive guide helps persons with asthma, allergies and other environmental sensitivities choose healthy building materials for their homes. The cost is $29.95 can be ordered online.

Tips for healthy renovations in the bedroom:

  • Do not use pressed wood for mattress support as this material emits gases.
  • Minimize use of pressed wood furniture in the bedroom. If these products cannot be avoided, seal all surfaces.
  • Carpets and carpet pads can act as a gathering place for dirt and moisture and breeding grounds for dust mites, mold and bacteria. It's healthier to use hard-finish flooring with natural fibre area rugs.
  • Fix leaks or condensation problems, which can lead to the growth of molds.
  • Avoid anti-stain furniture sprays.
Taking a few of these precautions will not only reduce the coughing, sneezing and congestion of allergic reactions, you may also have a wonderful sleep.

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