Without a good night’s sleep, no one wants to be around you. Face it.

You’re cranky, irritable and not looking so hot. After a few nights of no sleep, you’re probably sick and physically worn down. Not a good way to make friends and keep your family happy, huh?

Dreaming of Healthier Sleep?

So what happens when the place where you spend up to one-third of your life is the source of your inability to get a good night’s sleep?

Bedding coated with chemicals and toxins could be taxing your body during the exact same time that it should be resting and healing itself. Mattresses and sheets are just one component of the solution, but the humble pillow might be where you want to start making a change. Consider an organic pillow for starters.

If you’re a side sleeper or a stomach sleeper you know how intimate your nose and mouth can become with a pillow, as evidenced by the pillowcase lines on your face the next morning. Back-sleepers, you’re just as close, with just a few inches separating your respiratory system and the ingredients in your pillow.

Image courtesy of Gisela Giardino

Be Cautious of Materials in Traditional Pillows

What could possibly be in a traditional pillow that might tax your body at night? The major offenders are:

  • Chemical Flame Retardants – Early studies suggest that the chemicals used could possibly be affecting your hormones.
  • Antibacterial Biocides – Ingredients that aim to kill germs, dust mites and mold.
  • Polyurethane Foam/Synthetic Latex Rubber – Ironically, these are highly flammable substances created from a slew of chemicals.

All of these materials can slowly degrade or off-gas over time, and your nose and mouth are at the forefront to breathe all of the particles in.

Look for Pillows Made from Natural Materials

Blissfully, the same types and shapes of pillows that you are already used to can be recreated using a variety of materials found in nature, including:

  • Organic Cotton – Be sure to look for organic cotton, as the conventional crop is one of the biggest users of pesticides in the world.
  • Organic Wool – Naturally flame resistant and thermo-regulating (keeps you warm in the cold weather and cool in warm weather), this material also repels dust mites.
  • Natural Latex – Harvested from the rubber tree, this natural-based foam often lasts twice as long as its synthetic counterpart.
  • PLA – Polylactide is a polyester that is derived entirely from plants and not petroleum.
  • Kapok – The lightest natural fiber in the world, it’s harvested from the seeds of the tropical kapok tree. Known as “silk cotton,” it’s five times less dense than cotton.
  • Buckwheat Hulls – The small, outer layer of buckwheat creates a firm support that is often encased by a wool outer layer.

Hypo-Allergenic Is Not the Same as Natural

Choosing a “hypo-allergenic” pillow in a big-box store is likely not the answer to find a chemical-free pillow, as the label means nothing in the marketing industry. Instead, head online to these established companies specializing in nontoxic bedding:

  • Naturepedic – Organic latex pillows for kids and adults as well as PLA pillows with organic cotton covers. feature either kapok or PLA — Naturepedic PLA is derived entirely from sugarcane.
  • Savvy Rest – Seven styles of pillows, four of which are customizable, allowing you to remove filling to create the perfect sleep environment. All are encased with unbleached organic cotton casings.
  • LifeKind – Seven adult sleeping pillows range from contoured latex support to buckwheat. Many are customizable for thickness. All are handmade in the USA.

Choosing the right organic pillow doesn’t have to be a headache if you follow these simple tips. Dreamy!

Feature image courtesy of Luc De Leeuw

By Kimberly Button

Kimberly Button is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home and the Editor-in-Chief of GetGreenBeWell , featuring modern, sane ideas for living a non-toxic life. A professional journalist for nearly two decades, Button has written for magazines such as Martha Stewart's Whole Living, American Airlines, AAA, Sierra, National Geographic Traveler, and Vegetarian Times. Visit KimButton.com for more information.