This article was updated in 2019 to reflect our constantly evolving furniture-free, dynamic living space. For context, you might want to start with the article Why I Went Furniture-Free and How to Transition Out of a Mattress.
I’m always trying to clean up my act, but recently my cleaning priority has turned to getting rid of the mold I found growing underneath our floor-sleeping pads.
When it comes to moving more, I have come to adore floor sleeping for both the firmness of the surface (pressure-deforming movements!) and for the way I have to use my body to get down to the floor and back up again. Those are great for me, but mold underneath our mattress is not. So, we decided to build futon platforms based on this futon platform available from Big Apple Futon. (Before you ask, no, I don't have plans. We just winged it.)
Because we’re also trying to create a less toxic home and use less gunk that winds up in the soil and ocean, I decided to skip the polyurethane and make my own sealant out of olive oil and beeswax.
P.S. I have a friend who is afraid that I will turn crafty and turn this movement blog into a crafty blog. I've sworn to my friend that I haven't and I won't. But still, I had a lot of fun chopping this block of beeswax into small pieces,
and adding it to heated oil (for one bed I used sunflower oil and the other olive to make them slightly different colors).
Until I wrote Movement Matters and began to understand the relationship between "making" and "movement", I found the small movements necessary for crafts tedious. I feel differently now, but still my favorite part was applying the wax to the wood.
The application process was one of the most challenging movement sessions I’ve had in a long time. Think four hours of different squats and arm-reaches, outside in the sun, kids running about the place. A whole-body, whole-life movement session.
While comment sections on social media get a bad wrap, there are also gems to be found. When I had written about transitioning to sleeping without a mattress, someone commented about the off-gassing of the pad I was using. I googled "flame retardants mattresses" and I was stunned. I had no idea about the research on flame-retardants and that they’re found in children, breast-milk, our local wildlife like orca whales, and are pretty much bad news. (Unless you’re on fire, then I imagine they sound pretty great.)
This became another reason furniture-free was an extension of the lower-impact way we want to be in the world: Furniture is lousy with flame retardants. If you were looking for additional, non-movement reasons to go furniture-free, read about some of the other impacts flame retardant chemicals might have on neurodevelopment when children were exposed in utero.
With this new information, I started to seek a pad not only thin and firm, but also chemical-free. We found cotton and wool futon pads from White Lotus Home and these are the pads we use on our platforms.
How's it going with the new gear?
I definitely preferred sleeping on something thinner and actually on the floor, but I feel we made a good trade-off for less chemical and mold exposure. You could easily sleep on one of these mattresses directly on the floor, but here in the PNW we would need to be diligent about getting them up off the floor every day for airflow--and they're heavy and cumbersome and not easy for one person to lift or hang. If it was just me, and not a family of four, I imagine I'd be sleeping on the floor and rolling something up each day.
But wait, there's more.
Around this time, the huz and I were trying to figure out how to get to bed earlier and stop working late (or mindlessly surfing the net). We decided to put our wireless router on a timer that clicked it off at a pre-set time every night. I didn’t realize he had already done this when, after a few days of crazy dreams, I mentioned them. And he agreed that he too had very dynamic bouts of dreaming. Then he mentioned that he had put the timer up a few days beforehand.
There haven't been m(any?) studies on sleeping in a “constant WiFi” environment and dream qualities, although there have been studies on sleep position and geomagnetic activity and how they affect dreams. To be honest, I'd never even considered that my WiFi could be affecting my sleep until I did a literature search as saw that it indeed does (see articles at the end of this article).
It’s been two months since we went Wi-Fi free at night and while I haven’t bothered to quantify/qualify my dreams further than what I did the first week, I can say that I am sleeping much more heavily through the night. That is, I used to awaken easily and early—now, when my alarm goes off at 5:30am (time to go for a walk!)—I’m still sleeping heavily.
Sleep quality aside, putting a timer on electronics decreases screen time, saves energy, consumes less fuel and saves money. There's nothing to lose and many things to gain.
Dear P.J., I also made these pseudo-"nutellas" for a baby shower last weekend but I swear I'm not into crafts and this will never be a craft-blog. The end.
2018 UPDATE: Despite our best efforts, we still developed mold between the wool mattresses and wood frames. We really need to pick up our beds every day if we’re not on high mattresses in our damp climate. So we’ve changed things up again! We’ve now changed to bedrolls that we have to hang daily (i.e. move even more for our sleep). We also moved our sleeping room to the smallest room, and we moved our kids’ play room into the larger, much warmer room. Bonus--this gives us TWO open rooms every day, creating some much appreciated movement-friendly space in our small home. Once again, what we call minimalism could just as easily be thought of as maximalism.
Interested in more Furniture-Free? Read the room-by-room Gear Guide to Going Furniture Free. Also check out our Day in a Movement-Rich Life Page, where you'll find a tour of my house in 2016!
Sleep/EMF research below; search “sleep and EMF” at scholar.google.com (not Google.com) to read more. Also, pay attention to the doses used in many of these studies (e.g. 30 minutes before bed). What's your exposure to WiFi look like in minutes per day? Before bed? Just asking.