x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sleep green, for a better night's rest

The Green Queen makes a case for organic fibre sheets and linens for not only a healthier planet, but a healthier family.

In the field of colour therapy, green is known as a hue of balance and harmony. Both calming and soothing, it is said to promote growth.

So when you lay your head down for a night of sleep, it makes sense that the pillowcases and sheets involved would be healthy for you and the planet.

According to the Textile Exchange, a US-based non-profit that promotes sustainable fibres, in 2010 organic cotton was grown in 23 countries and production increased 15 per cent compared with the previous year. In addition, worldwide retail sales of organic cotton clothing and home textiles reached an estimated US$4.3 billion (Dh15.8bn).

The Park Hyatt Hotel chain announced last year that it was offering eco-friendly sheets, pillowcases and shams across its 447 properties, including those in the UAE. And recently, Bloomingdale's announced it had picked up Calvin Klein Home's collection of organic cotton bed linens, free of pesticide residue, chemicals and bleaches.

Sadly, synthetic fabrics still abound in this part of the world and remain a cheaper option.

These products are made from non-renewable petroleum and treated with flame retardants and other chemicals. Over time they can emit varying levels of volatile organic compounds, such as the suspected carcinogen, toxin and respiratory irritant formaldehyde.

And while wrinkle-free sheets, or those that are stain-resistant, seem like a good idea, they need to be chemically treated to earn that claim.

Even if you don't believe something as simple as bed sheets can off-gas bad things, most people would probably rather crawl into a space swathed in breathable, natural fabrics, rather than stifling synthetics.

Finding an eco-friendly alternative is tough, however, because there really is no way to have everything. Anything made in a factory is going to use energy and involve waste, for starters. And even some "natural" fibres have to be treated with chemicals before they can be soft enough so that people will want to sleep on them.

Silk and linen are higher-end choices. Cotton is the obvious option, a natural fibre, yet one that has a big effect on the planet. Because cotton requires more pesticides to grow than any other crop, with a resulting toll taken on the air, soil and wildlife, the greener choice is the certified organic variety.

Sheets and pillowcases made from hemp and bamboo are also good alternatives, harder to find in the UAE but more widely available online. Some more cutting-edge fabrics include two types of rayon: lyocell, a cellulose fibre made from wood pulp that purports to be very light and have a soft, silky feel, and modal, which is made from beech trees. There is one more bonus to going the natural route: it will help you steer clear of toxic dyes and chlorine bleaching.

So why not make your bed a place that is natural, breathable and green? After all, most of us spend at least a third of our lives in one.

amcqueen@thenational.ae