Why Choose Bamboo Sheets & Other Wood-Based Household Products?
The average person, if we assume a person sleeps the typical 8 hours a night, spends one third of their life in bed. Over the average lifespan of about 70, a person is asleep for over 200,000 hours. That’s a lot of time laying in bed, and it’s a lot of time wriggling between your sheets. So while you might not think a lot about the contents and history of the fibers that make up your bed sheets, understanding what fabrics produce what effects and knowing the processes that led to their creation can enlighten the process of searching for the best sheets for you. Take control over this large chunk of your sleep, and your decisions as a conscious consumer, instead of simply choosing whatever happens to be on the rack the day you go to buy them.
Usually when we think of bed sheets, we think of cotton. The textile industry draws a vast amount of its products and materials from cotton, which was established so early on that consumers often fail to question it as a superior fabric. Cotton is a tried and true material–people have heard of it and trust it, so it’s typically the most familiar material for consumers who haven’t done a lot of research on their bed sheet fabric. But we can think of bamboo as “cotton-plus,” as materials made from bamboo elevate the features that typically attract us to more familiar textiles. Compared to cotton, bamboo is more absorbent, antibacterial, and breathable.
Bamboo can absorb three times more water than its own weight. Furthermore, it takes longer for water to soak and then re-emerge from bamboo fabric than it does with cotton. This has made bamboo materials gain popularity in the cloth diaper movement–if parents develop a concern for producing waste, they can turn to cloth diapers, and when they realize that bamboo cloth is more absorbent than cotton, they turn to bamboo cloth diapers. Similarly, parents are turning more and more to bamboo for its antibacterial qualities. Several studies have shown that, compared to cotton, bamboo-based fabric fibers inhibit bacterial growth. This research-based choice on the part of parents around the world epitomizes bamboo’s superiority: if moms want to put this stuff on their babies’ bottoms, it is surely the cream of the crop when it comes to fabric textiles!
It’s easy to see why this quality would appeal to parents looking for effective cloth diaper fabric. But why would absorbency and antibacterial qualities be important when looking for the most appropriate bed sheets? Absorbency is an attractive quality in bed sheets because, simply put, we sweat a lot when we sleep, especially under certain conditions. Of course, if we’re sleeping in a particularly warm room, our sweat rate increases enormously. Other factors that cause sleep-sweat include taking certain medications like antidepressants and hypoglycemic treatments, eating spicy foods, general illness, anxiety, having stimulating dreams, and of course, menopause, just to name a few. If you experience any type of sleep trouble, you are likely sweating more than the average person as you snooze. Bamboo sheets soak that sweat up, removing it from your skin and ensuring you sleep deeply and restfully.
The human body hosts a variety of bacteria, which thrive on our skin and hair. Generally, bacteria is actually good–healthy bacteria ensures our bodies digest food properly, it actually fights bacteria that we don’t necessarily want, and it keeps our cells producing regularly. But some bacteria is unhealthy, particularly aggressive forms of bacteria that try to spread more than they help the human body. We should be wary of allowing bacteria to take root in our bed sheets. Bamboo sheets greatly reduce the likelihood of bacteria breeding in your sheets and affecting your sleep environment. Just think: you could literally sleep on bed sheets that fight the development of bacteria in your bed after it has departed from your body!
When considering which material you want your bed sheets to be made from, the first thing to recognize is that your bed is probably one of the dirtiest regions of your house. Now, we’re not accusing anyone of being lazy and not washing their sheets–but the cleanest person in the world is constantly sloughing off dead skin cells, and beds are basically dumping grounds, especially because skin rubs up against the blankets throughout the sleep cycle. No matter how soft your sheets are, they exfoliate these dead skin cells, which are just waiting for the slightest nudge to flake off if they haven’t already floated into the air and onto your blankets. Washing your sheets regularly is one way to reduce the possible amount of dead skin cells that penetrate your sheets and settle in your mattress. But now matter how much you wash your sheets, your mattress will still collect a high volume of your outermost layer. An urban myth has developed over the past decade that mattresses actually double in weight after 10 years–this is quite the exaggeration, but mattresses do collect pounds worth of skin cells after enough time passes.
Now, skin cells settling in your mattress isn’t that big of a deal–we can’t see what we’ve shed and luckily it’s hard to be allergic to your own body. But your dead skin cells have some major fans: dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic critters that naturally reside on everyone’s skin. They scuttle around, feeding off our skin cells. While they sound nasty, they’re actually pretty useful. Remember, they EAT our dead skin cells–they don’t DEPOSIT dust on our bodies. However, if they find their way into our bed sheets and mattresses, they accumulate there and leave droppings, reproduce, die and leave their dead bodies behind to accrue. So while they do some good for our bodies, there’s no reason to let them congregate in your sheets. Dust mites are particularly troublesome for asthmatics, and a high proportion of people with any allergy are specifically allergic to dust mites–well, dust mites’ feces. If infested with dust mites and all their droppings, beds can develop into some treacherous territory for people with allergies. But since bamboo naturally resists infestation on a micro-scale, it repels dust mites and discourages them from making your bed their home.
Bamboo fabric’s antibacterial qualities are augmented by its ability to breathe. While cotton is often held up as the most breathable textile, bamboo sheets are even more breathable. This might be surprising, as a fabric that absorbs a lot of liquid doesn’t seem like it would allow air to travel through it. But due to bamboo’s ability to wick away moisture after it’s absorbed it gives air a chance to move around between individual fibers. The flow of air between strands of bamboo keeps your body cool in the summer and warm in the winter.