Sleep Better Without Metal

by Melodie Chan Graves

First published in the March 2010 issue of Conscious Design Magazine; reprinted here by kind permission of the author.

In this hurry-up-and-go society, we tend to take our bodies for granted, pushing them to the limit with stress and long hours, feeding them unhealthy caffeine and energy drinks, and spending too little time sleeping.

What precious time you spend in your bed should be restful. But what most people don’t know is that your mat-tress has a lot to do with how well you sleep at night, and for a very different reason than you might think—magnetic fields.

A large percentage of the population sleeps on traditional innerspring mattresses with a box spring. Even though you might have gotten a new mattress and the support and firmness feels just right, if you’re using a mattress with metal in it, and especially if you use it conjunction with a metal box spring and bed frame, you may be subjecting yourself to very strong static magnetic fields at night. Why? Because the coils inside mattresses tend to become magnetized with the normal movements of sleep. And once they become magnetized, they are likely to stay that way.

Why is magnetization harmful? Just like any other high-precision piece of electrical equipment, like computers or delicate audio/visual or medical imaging equipment, the human body relies on electrical impulses to communicate on a cellular level.

When the body is exposed to strong magnetic fields, cellular communication can be interrupted or interfered with, much like a magnetic field can cause static on a video feed or unexpected program crashes on a computer. Chronic exposure to elevated static magnetic fields can lead to poor quality sleep, impaired metabolic function, and a host of other illnesses because your body isn’t able to repair itself effectively at night.

How can you tell if your mattress is magnetized? Take a liquid-filled compass into your bedroom and hold it away from the bed. Note the position of the needle. Move it to the surface of the bed and see if the needle moves. Deviation from the original reading indicates the presence of a magnetic field. Next, drag the compass lengthwise along the mattress for a few inches. If there is more than 2 degrees shift in either direction, your bed is considered to be magnetized. In extreme cases, deviations of 180 degrees or more can happen with mattresses in combination with a box spring platform. Hollywood-style metal bed frames often intensify this effect.

If your bed shows severe magnetization (10 degrees or more when dragged along the mattress for 3 inches), try to get rid of as much metal as possible. Replace your box spring with a wooden platform, and start saving up for an all-natural cotton and wool futon or natural latex rubber mattress. Wooden platforms with slats are the best choice for bed foundations, because they allow for better air circulation underneath the mattress than solid panel platforms.

If these measures seem a little excessive to you, remember that you spend nearly a third of your life in bed. Eliminating strong magnetic fields gives your body a better chance to rest and repair. After a hard day’s work, doesn’t your body deserve it?

Melody Graves, BBEC, BBEI, is a literary and health writer who has recovered from a severe case of early-onset fibromyalgia. She has firsthand experience with overcoming a chronic “incurable” disease through an integrative healing approach that includes Building Biology, naturopathy, and fascial integrative therapy. She is an IBE certified Building Biology Environmental Consultant.

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