Bedroom EMFs. When it’s a Problem and When it’s Not
| Published: May 17, 2019
Our recent webclass the “9 Science-Backed Secrets of Perfect Sleep” touched on EMFs in the bedroom and specifically from mattress springs or coils during the live Q/A.
Would the Organix INTELLIbed mattress that my family has been sleeping on for 6+ years and many of you have chosen as well be a problematic model?
I promised that I would put out more information on the science about this, so here is a detailed article that covers what the industry experts are currently saying on the issue.
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity. Yes it’s a Thing
Conventional authorities laugh at the notion that some individuals experience electromagnetic hypersensitivity or EHS. As someone who is personally highly sensitive to some types of EMFs, I think this is quite sad.
Fortunately, some countries have already recognized this condition as problematic. This number will grow in the coming years particularly with the advent of 5G, which will bring the intensity of EMFs into our homes at a level never seen before.
The World Health Organization says that EHS can present in the following ways:
The [EHS] symptoms most commonly experienced include dermatological symptoms (redness, tingling, and burning sensations) as well as neurasthenic and vegetative symptoms (fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestive disturbances). The collection of symptoms is not part of any recognized syndrome.
EHS resembles multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), another disorder associated with low-level environmental exposures to chemicals. (1)
In Sweden, sensitivity to dirty electricity is a recognized disability. Estimates are that it affects approximately 3% of the population.
A survey of Swiss doctors concluded that 5% of symptoms in patients trace back to dirty electricity exposure. (2)
According to the WHO, there is significant geographical variability in the prevalence of EHS.
For example, cases of EHS in Sweden, Germany, and Denmark are higher than in the United Kingdom, Austria, and France.
Why this occurs is not yet clearly understood.
The International EMF Project, under the direction of the WHO, is coordinating further study of EMFs to better understand and identify risks. (3)
In the meantime, it is up to the individual to identify problematic scenarios and take steps to protect themselves.
This is where mattress coils come in … are they a risk factor for EHS sensitive individuals or not?
Oram Miller BBEC, EMRS is a Certified Building Biology® Environmental Consultant and Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist.
He is the Director of Learning and Development for the International Institute for Building Biology and Ecology (IBE).
In short, he is one of the world’s foremost experts on EMFs. (4)
Here is what he responded when asked about the EMF risks from sleeping on a mattress that contains metal coils.
We advocate reducing electric field levels in bedrooms at night regardless of the type of mattress they sleep on. This often involves clients shutting certain breakers off when they sleep, which we identify through our testing. We then have an electrician install remote shut off switches to allow clients to shut off circuits conveniently from their bedroom. Read the Comments from Clients page to see accounts of clients of mine over the years who noticed significant improvement in their sleep by having us do an assessment and then shutting off their breakers at night.
In summary, most healthy people are not bothered by the metal in their mattress and box springs. It is the voltage in plastic circuits in the walls and floor of their bedroom, and bedside lamp cords, that are the culprit, not the metal in the bed. [emphasis mine]
Is a Futon with a Wood Frame Better than Box Springs?
Mr. Miller goes on to say this about futon mattress on a wood frame versus a traditional mattress.
This means, as far as we are concerned, replacing a bed with metal springs and frame with a futon on a wooden platform while keeping the circuits on at night within six to eight feet of your body on the bed will not provide as deep, recuperative and healthy a night’s sleep as shutting off the proper breakers while sleeping in a bed with a traditional mattress and box springs. That is the experience of our clients.
When you drop the large electric fields out of the picture by shutting circuits off at night and fix any wiring errors or other sources of magnetic fields (and remove routers and cordless phone base units from the bedroom), then there are no EMFs to amplify when you sleep. Then the metal in the springs and frame are not an issue.
I know this flies in the face of what you hear from the general EMF community, which is to get rid of metal in your bed, but that is our understanding and experience.
Bed Coils Not an Issue but Motorized Beds ARE
What Oram Miller does warn against are beds with electrical wires or other components like you would have in a Sleep Number bed or a motorized bed that changes position. These types of beds can have very high electric and magnetic field EMFs, particularly if the wiring is ungrounded. Some models even have radio frequency EMFs in them from WiFi and Bluetooth. Stay away!
The very people who need a healing environment, namely, those who are bed-bound at home, in a convalescent or nursing home, or in a hospital are in “hospital beds” that have ungrounded plugs with massively high AC electric field exposure levels. Such beds need to be plugged into a power strip with a switch on it, and that switch needs to be off when the person sleeps. We have retailers who sell shielded power strips. AC electric cords on such beds should be shielded cords with grounded three-pronged plugs.
Some of these beds even have a transformer mounted right under the mattress at the location of the sleeping person’s pelvis, generating unhealthy levels of magnetic field exposure, according to my profession, into that area of the body. This could be a cancer risk.
Test it for Yourself
The best way to convince yourself that the metal springs in a traditional mattress are not an EMF risk is to test it with two types of devices.
The recommendation from EMF Center is to keep bedroom EMFs to 0.1 volts or less. (5)
While motorized beds are NOT below this thresh hold, a regular mattress with metal coils passes easily.
In sum, if your bed is not motorized but has some metal springs, it is not going to be a huge EMF issue. Your efforts are well placed turning off wifi at night, unplugging all electrical cords in your bedroom, however. If you are extremely sensitive, turning off the breakers to the bedroom area can provide further relief.
Since 2002, Sarah has been a Health and Nutrition Educator dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, her work has been covered by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.