A wide variety of ailments list morning headaches as a symptom, but this painful way of waking up can often be explained by an overlooked cause: the pillow upon which your head rests each night.

We've previously examined the many health benefits of natural, sustainably sourced mattresses here on the Green Conscience Blog.  The bedding we choose is of paramount importance, since nearly a third of our life is (ideally) spent sleeping upon it, yet oftentimes we don't stop to consider what makes up our mattress and pillows.  As most of us operate under a budget of one kind or another, we sometimes can't afford higher quality bedding that largely avoids harsh chemical treatments, yet when it comes to the component parts of our sleep-set, we have other items to consider swapping out in an effort to combat morning headaches.

Commonly, manufacturers of mattresses and pillows employ a variety of materials, including synthetic foam, to make sure you have a comfortable night's rest.  While it is often difficult for consumers to approximate exactly what is in each of these component materials, some chemicals are well known to exist in most mattresses.  Their acknowledged effects leave little to the imagination when it comes to the inadvertent dangers we face when sleeping each night.

As Savvy Rest relates, one of the most common chemicals found in memory foams and other bedding materials is formaldehyde.  A known carcinogen, formaldehyde is not only responsible for the powerful smell that characterizes new bedding, but also continues to leach into a room far after that olfactory assault ceases.  Much like a variety of other chemical-laden products (like those made with pressboard), formaldehyde continues to off-gas into a home for an extended period of time. Most commonly, formaldehyde is used to embalm dead bodies, and according to the CDC, even low levels of the chemical may be sufficient to dramatically raise the risk of getting cancer.

Formaldehyde isn't the only chemical to grace your bedding, however. Diisocyanates are considered highly toxic, and they are known eye and throat irritants.  Unsurprisingly, they are also proven to cause headaches, and often found in mattress foams.  Alongside this mind-boggling addition to our bedding, you can often find methylene chloride in mattresses and foam pillows.  By far the most common pollutant associated with industrial foams, methylene chloride has had dramatic effects on factory workers who are exposed to it in the long term. These include memory loss, dizziness, nausea, and (of course) headaches.

While sleepers aren't exposed to concentrations anywhere near these amounts, off-gassing means that chemicals can build up in our bodily systems over time, slowly and stealthily. A known and common issue with industrial chemicals, these cumulative effects can be measured in people almost from birth.  Recently, a new study was published that examined the capacity for synthetic chemicals to be passed from mother to child while breastfeeding.  The results were staggering, showing that there is a direct connection between breastfeeding and tested levels of chemicals present in an individual. 

Limiting exposure to potentially carcinogenic and definitively harmful chemicals is a constant challenge that remains exceedingly difficult for most people. Thankfully, there are certain steps that health-conscious individuals can take, including changing out your bedding to a more naturally-sourced alternative.  Many of the chemicals that are found in pillows and other bedding originate not only in memory foams, but also in the fire-retardants that certain materials are legally required to be treated with.  When sourcing a mattress or a natural pillow, look for one made from organic latex or wool (and buckwheat in the case of pillows).  Inherently flame-resistant, many of these products avoid the need for harsh chemical treatments altogether, dramatically decreasing the amount of toxins your body passively takes in over the long term.

Morning headaches are no way to start a day.  If you're experiencing these on a somewhat regular basis, don't hesitate to examine the bedding upon which you rest, as changing it out may be the key to a better night's sleep and a clearer head in the morning.

[Images: Martha W McQuade via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

              rachel CALAMUSA via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0 ]



03/01/2016 1:25am

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09/12/2016 3:28pm

I was told you should not make up or fold your bed sheets after you wake up. It has to stay there for about an hour or longer. It is better if you let sunlight touch your bed. This way the microscopic parasites will die. After that you can now fix your bed. It is clean already because of sunlight.

04/07/2016 3:56pm

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05/24/2016 7:13am

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06/03/2016 2:49pm

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07/15/2016 6:00am

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07/18/2016 7:26am

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08/07/2016 4:56am

This bed is really so beautiful and also pillow is so comfortable. Mostly people buy this type of pillow for taking rest. All the pillow color is so well and bed sheet quality of outclass.

08/15/2016 2:16am

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09/12/2016 10:45am

Do you go to bed feeling fine but wake up with a stiff neck? The problem could be your pillow. And that's why you need to look into finding the best pillow for neck pain.

10/15/2016 4:50am

The pillows are come to the lots of designs and colors which will enhance your room decoration and couch beauty as well. That design is simple and attractive

11/25/2016 4:27am

Thanks for your post about pillows being to blame for morning headaches. I ddn't know that they was so many chemicals present.

12/05/2016 3:43am

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12/26/2016 10:12am

Your comfort when sleeping partially depends on the pillow that you are using. If you love to snuggle up and want your full body to lean on something when sleeping, then regular pillows surely won't suffice and in the process won't give you the comfortable rest that you need.

01/15/2017 9:57am

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Snoring is a bigger problem than you might think and there are no health benefits from snoring - the reverse is actually true. If you are ready to get something that can help, a snore reducing pillow is worth looking at.

02/22/2017 7:09am

The materials used in making memory foam pillows allows the pillow to conform to your neck and head giving you a comfortable position for sleeping. This is a must for people with problems in their cervical spine as well as head ache sufferes. Memory foam pillows are temperature sensitive and will return to the origional shape, ready for you to snuggle into it again when you go to bed.

03/16/2017 5:30am

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