Sleep is essential to your health and well-being. What you wear in your pre-sleep hours as well as during a great night's sleep provides several benefits. The first, of course, is comfort. A soft and cozy fabric provides a sense of relaxation and perhaps indulgence. When you slip on your butter-soft bamboo fabric nightshirt or pajamas, the texture is one of coziness and calm.
The second is your health. Skin is the body's largest organ, potentially absorbing chemicals from any nonorganic materials. As you sleep, your body's repair mechanisms involve expelling toxins through your skin, and organic materials can better wick away the elements your body is trying to expel. Synthetic fabrics, in contrast, could potentially keep those toxins on your skin, absorbing them back into your system. Organic cotton, by contrast, efficiently allows your cleaning sweat to evaporate, helping your body maintain itself. Natural materials such as cotton and silk also help you to get a better night's sleep by regulating your body's temperature.
The third is environmental responsibility. When you choose organic cotton, for instance, you avoid the extreme amounts of chemicals used in manufacturing nonorganic cottons, and you avoid the environmental impact of standard cotton harvesting, which the World Wildlife Federation says accounts for 24 percent of global sales for insecticides and 11 percent of pesticides. A pound of cotton requires one-third of a pound of chemicals before harvest, says the WWF, so the nonorganic cotton pajamas you and your child wear have been doused with chemicals, including chemicals to make that sleepwear flame-retardant. "When I saw my daughter chewing on her pajama top, I knew I had to switch to organic fabrics," says mom of two Sarah Delaney.
The toxins in nonorganic fabrics have been said to damage lungs, the central nervous system, reproductive organs, the immune system, and the endocrine system. Some obstetricians may even ask pregnant women to avoid the chemical dangers of nonorganic fabrics. Switching to eco-friendly sleepwear is thus a health-protecting remedy, as well.
*Give Your Sleepwear a Green Makeover
Choose sleepwear -- such as sleepshirts, flannel pants, cotton T-shirts, and men's pajamas -- made from 100 percent certified organic fabrics such as 100 percent cotton, bamboo, peace silk and ultra-soft hemp. Because the demand for organic clothing has grown exponentially, designers offer a greater variety of eco-friendly sleepwear than ever before. Visit http://www.gaiam.com, http://www.GarnetHill.com, http://www.patagonia.com, http://www.hanes.com, http://www.EcoBodywear.com and other specialty retailers to create your new organic sleepwear collection, and check out top department stores' sleepwear sections for designer lines.
As you shop for organic sleepwear, pay special attention to manufacturers' descriptions of not only the fabrics themselves but also the dyes used to give your sleepwear color. You should read about eco-friendly dyes, and some companies also affix environmentally conscious buttons, which use ecological threads. You won't be stuck with a "Little House on the Prairie" nightgown; today's organic pajamas are stylish and colorful, even sexy.
Sophie Uliano, author of "Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life," says, "Now is the time to give your lingerie collection a makeover as well. For me, lingerie has to be -- above all -- comfy. If it's not, I just won't wear it. It also needs to be well-made so it'll survive more than a few washes."
Uliano suggests several of her favorite eco-friendly lingerie companies, including Who Made Your Pants, a British company that creates all of their undies from recycled remnants from the lingerie industry, Luva Huva, for its adorable baby doll sets made from eco-friendly, soft fabrics, and the bamboo designs from Eberjey Eco Collection. For boy shorts and simpler panties, Uliano suggests Pact.
*Eco-Friendly Pajamas as Gifts
"My husband was very happy when I asked him for some organic sleepwear and lingerie for my birthday gifts," says homemaker Karen Giardinia. "I think he was tired of seeing me in the same old T-shirts and boxer shorts, and we both loved how much prettier the new pajamas, babydoll sets and silky robes were."
When making your gift list for any occasion, be sure to include sleepwear for all seasons (such as lightweight cotton for summer and flannel for the winter months), as well as underwear, robes and even organic bamboo spa socks and slippers to wear with your more casual sleepwear.