Saturday, December 20, 2008

favorite thing friday

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 (810)."


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.)


  1. We're having a huge ice storm so 60 degrees sounds heavenly! LOL

  2. We LOVE our electric mattress pads! I turn my side down as soon as I get to bed, but my always cold husband keeps his side on all night. We keep our thermostat at 55 at night (in Connecticut), and I'm always toasty (thank you also LLBean down comforter and flannel duvet cover).


  3. I do the same exact thing with Mark! He hates my frozen popsicle toes when we get in bed!

  4. I totally worship our heated mattress pad and it has the added bonus of being down! Talk about cozy. I turn it on a few hours before we go to bed then switch on my side as I sleep warm while my husband sllumbers with it on high all night.

  5. It is currently -1 degrees where I'm at with a windchill of -24 degrees...I'm feeling no sympathy for your "frosty" 60 degrees :O)

  6. My husband is my electic blanket. He is always toasty...I wear just a light sleeveless nightie to bed with fleece sheets and a normal comforter.

    It was 12 degrees F outside here today! (That's pretty cold, even for here; -11 celsius). Even though it is so cold, I would absolutely roast if we had an electric blanket. I guess it's all what you are aclimatized too.

  7. My grandmother had an electric blanket as long as I can remember, and I used to sneak into her bed in the middle of the night and she'd snuggle me under her instant heat.

    Of course she was 127 years old and we lived in PHOENIX, so you can imagine how much use any normal person had for those.

    Greg has been putting the thermostat on 58 at night, and Sarah has been in twice to plaster her freezing body next to mine. Greg is like a giant polar bear and would sleep with the windows open if I let him. I wish I had a warm bed. :( Do you have that pad on your guest bed?

  8. My husband and dog (yes I know, the dog shouldn't be in bed with us) are heating pads. They roast me! I have been thinking of buying some heated mattress pads though, one for my dad (whose hormones are whacked up due to prostrate cancer) and one for my hubby. Of course ours would definately have to be dual control. Maybe when I get rid of all my blubber I might get cold too;) I haven't weighed in lately but things are going well. I need to step up the exercise some though because the weight loss seems to have halted. Seems like I haven't had time to exercise every day much less exercise more than an hour every day, so hopefully after the holidays I will step it up. Whew can you believe that it is almost Christmas? Hope you have a happy stress free week.

  9. It's supposed to be a scorching high of nine degrees here today. Thank goodness I haven'd packed away the beach towels....

    My daughter wanders around the house in t-shirt and shorts, barefoot on days like this and says "Can't we turn up the heat..."

    Lord help me.

  10. 60 degrees?? That would be a heat wave. It is currently -4 here. Actual temperagure with a wind chill or -22.

    We have a waterbed and this is one of the BIGGEST reasons we keep it. It's WARM. I just recently learned about the heated matress pad thing and I think if we ever get rid of the waterbed one of these will be a MUST.

  11. I forgot to mention that when I turn our mattress pad on to heat up, I put my pajamas under the covers to warm up, too.


  12. You solved my problem!!! All 4 of my kids have been mosying into my bed as little popsicles in the middle of the night. My husband abhors the dried out nose issue like you do, so we've been waking up to a 59 degree house! It should be against the law out here in southern California!

    I'm ordering up 3 twin, one queen, and one eastern king heated mattress pads to be delivered ASAP!!!! Maybe then I will get a good nights sleep!