We had just moved into our new house.
The view from our master bedroom was spectacular. So spectacular, I spent all of my time in this room.
I was working from home and had placed my makeshift desk right in our master bedroom. The view, the light, the newness of the place somehow made me forget I was spending all of my existence within a 25 square foot area.
It wasn’t long, maybe a month in, the mental fog set in. I was always very regimented about my caffeine intake – only one a cup a day and always before lunch. That had not changed. I was sleeping well, or as well as you can given two kids under the age of 4. But the lack of sleep had been there all along. I couldn’t figure out why I was just so mentally lethargic. Needless to say, the mental state in question was not helping the situation.
I mentioned this to my husband. Being the engineer that he is, he immediately turned to our fancy bathroom scale.
What? You think it’s because of my weight gain? I thought men couldn’t notice 5 lb fluctuations?!
No, as it turned out, he wanted to use the carbon dioxide monitoring capabilities of the scale. Who knew that even existed on the device?
He was right. It was the perfect conflux of things. New construction meant no drafty nights but it also meant great insulation. We live in the bay area in very a temperate environment so I never think to turn on the air. All bedroom have elevated levels of carbon dioxide by virtue of people sleeping (and breathing) there a good chunk of the night.
According to Occupational Health and Safety, it is not uncommon for crowded indoor spaces to reach unhealthy levels of carbon dioxide:
- 250-350 ppm: background (normal) outdoor air level
- 350-1,000 ppm: typical level found in occupied spaces with good air exchange
- 1,000-2,000 ppm: level associated with complaints of drowsiness and poor air
It wasn’t crowded in our bedroom per se but there was a lot of exhaling going on. (and inhaling what was exhaled for that matter)
The decorator that I am, I immediately turned to the one thing I knew would solve the the problem. Plants. Yes, the common houseplant for better mental health.
I’m also a busy Mom of two toddlers so I wanted houseplants that could be neglected. A love fern that I could mistreat and would still love me back. Something that would (literally) take my breath away.
Lucky me, there happen to be lots of houseplants in this category. Easy, low maintenance and doing all the detoxing for me while I sleep.
Here are a few of my favorites easy houseplants:
Asparagus fern – So cozy and elegant at the same time. It is technically not a fern but who cares.
Fiddle Leaf Fig – These things can dominate a room, even when neglected. It’s a great statement piece but only if you have the space for it.
Yucca – This one you actually are not supposed to over water. I like to make weird mental notes to myself like – water the Yucca plant right before changing the sheets.
Peace Lily – For a more floral choice, this one has been cited by NASA for detoxing the air.
Aloe – This multitasker is not only cleaning your air, but it can moisturize your skin in a pinch.
Rubber Plant – This one I love because you can even just get a few branches and put it in a vase with water and it will last for months.
I’m still working and sleeping in the space of a generous elevator. I might not have reached mental enlightenment but the unexplainable fog is no longer there. Now I get to go back to all my other excuses for the lack of mental acuity.