Now that winter is here in southern California and the temperatures have dropped to the 60's, I am doing the best I can to stay warm. As I write this, I have on a flannel shirt, fleece pants, fleece socks and a scarf.
Oh, you might laugh - but at night when the temperatures are in the 50's (or maybe 40's!) (brrrr), my thin blood really can't handle the cold. For as long as we've been married, Charlie and I have had a down comforter on our bed. We will put on flannel sheets in the wintertime and almost always have a warm cup of tea before settling down for the night.
(That's not entirely true but it sure sounds good).
Even with flannel sheets and flannel pajamas and a down comforter, whenever I would climb in to bed at night, the feeling of cold sheets would take my breath away. Inevitably, I would stick my ice cold popsicle toes beneath my husband's always warm legs, he'd yell and I'd have to plead to keep my place next to the man whose internal thermostat is stuck on high.
A few years ago, when I was in the market for a new mattress pad, I happened to stumble upon an electric version. At first I pondered whether I would want an electric mattress pad because I have read my fair share of reports on electric magnetic fields (EMF) and the potential that they might cause brain tumors, leukemia, breast cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, chronic fatigue and headaches.
And a host of other health problems, if that list above doesn't scare you enough.
I've already expressed my opinion that there appears to be risks associated with everything. But considering part of my job (outside of digging poopy diapers out of toilets at 5 AM) is to evaluate human health risk from environmental sources, it should not be surprising that more often than not - the concern generated by what people "perceive" to be risk, far exceeds the real risk posed.
We're human and it's part of our biological make up to worry.
(And this only gets worse when you're a mother.)
Ultimately, I decided to buy the heated mattress pad. Then I came home and scoured the internet for details surrounding my purchase.
One particular study I read regarding an increase in breast cancer rates from electric bed warmers, indicated "The use of electric bedding devices, especially electric blankets, may be the greatest contributor to electromagnetic exposure from residential appliances, because of high EMF intensity, prolonged exposure, and intimate contact (7). Although an EMF-breast cancer association is biologically possible, most studies on the use of electric bedding devices have not supported it, while a number of occupational studies have shown an association (8–10)."
Well, I've also heard of an "association" with brain cancer and cell phone usage. And leukemia and computer or microwave usage. And fluorescent lights and birth defects, autism, attention deficit disorder, miscarriages and various forms of cancer.
So I read more articles and I was not entirely convinced that there was a strong enough link to persuade me that we were frying our insides by sleeping on electric mattress pads. And when Charlie spent an entire week going through an intensive training course at the Radiation Safety Academy and told me how we are constantly being bombarded by radiation - the sun, the earth, television, computers, lights but the concentrations are not high enough to hurt us, I felt more reassured with my purchase.
And less likely to go make a necklace for myself out of dielectric resonators.
What I have since determined is that the greatest risk of electric mattress pads comes in the form of fire danger.
"Modern electric blankets are relatively safe, though the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission says that there are still several hundred fires caused by them each year. Many of the fires can be blamed on old blankets made before 1988, when the circuitry was less reliable than the type used today. Fires from electric blankets are much higher in the United Kingdom, where 90 percent of such devices are actually heated mattress pads that you sleep on, as opposed to the blanket-style devices we Americans prefer."
(Except THIS American. I love my heated mattress pad. Almost more than I love chocolate.)
The electric mattress pads that we own, turn off automatically after ten hours. So if I turn our blanket on a few hours before I go to bed, it will turn off automatically in case I forget to turn it off in the morning.
Every night, I turn it on a few hours before we go to bed and either turn it down to low or turn it off, before we go to sleep for the night. And let me tell you what, easing my weary body in to a toasty warm bed at the end of the day is the most glorious thing I do for myself all day long.
And when I eat a bowl of ice cream while in bed ... well, it doesn't get ANY better than that.
Recently, when the children started leaving their beds and coming in to our bed at 2, 3, 4 AM with their ice cold popsicle toes that they would stick beneath my warm body parts, I bought electric mattress pads for their beds, too. Because even though they have flannel sheets and down comforters, I would need to staple the covers to the frame of the bed if there was any chance to keep them covered up.
And even then, they'd probably still climb out.
By the children staying warm from beneath, they are less likely to wake up cold and come wandering in to our room at 2, 3, or 4 AM. Although they do sell a waterproof heated mattress pad, I put a waterproof mattress pad over the electric pad in case someone springs a leak in the middle of the night.
During the winter months, I will turn the thermostat down at night because waking up totally dried out with a sore throat is just as bad as waking up cold. Hence, the upside of warming our beds is a substantial cost savings on our utility bill and children who are so happy about their own cozy beds that they don't wander in to my mine.
(Although sometimes they still do.)