More and more research proves how important sleep is for our overall health. However, getting a good night’s sleep is not as easy as it seems. While regular sleeping habits are important it is also worth looking at what you sleep in, on and under. Over the past years, there have been several studies conducted to look at the effect of wool on our sleep. In this blog post, you will get an overview of how wool lets us sleep better and what type of wool products to consider for a good night’s sleep.

How does wool work in bed?

There are several properties of wool that come into play when we sleep in wool.

  • Insulation: The first wool property to mention is the most obvious. Wool is a good insulator. The wool fibre itself is wavy, which is also called ‘crimp’. This crimp creates lots of little air pockets that act as an insulator. In other words, wool keeps us warm at night.
  • Breathability: Many people feel too hot in bed and this is where the second property comes into play. Wool is a very breathable fibre. This means that it can transport moisture vapour away from the body and release it into the air. So once we start to get too hot, the moisture that our body creates gets absorbed by the wool and released so that we then don’t overheat.
  • Absorbs moisture: Another fabulous wool property is that wool can also absorb up to 30% of its own weight before feeling wet. So should we start to sweat a bit more at night, the wool would absorb the moisture but not feel clammy on our skin.
  • Fluffy texture: Another aspect of wool is its soft and fluffy texture that comes into play when we sleep on wool. This makes us feel more settled and we have fewer pressure points on our body.
  • Antibacterial: Last but not least, bacteria and dust mites don’t like wool as an environment to thrive on. Therefore wool bedding is also very suitable for anyone suffering from allergies.

Study results on sleep and wool

Over the years, several sleep studies have been conducted to prove how all the above-mentioned properties of wool actually impact our sleep. You can find a reference to the different sleep studies on this fact sheet. Here is a summary of the findings.

Fall faster asleep

Researchers found that wearing wool nightwear and sleeping in wool bedding helps us fall asleep faster. This was particularly significant in warm sleeping conditions of 29°C.

Sleep longer

The same study that found out that we fall faster asleep also found that we tend to sleep longer in wool. On average 7 minutes. This might not sound that much, but these minutes add up during a week, month and year. I am sure especially parents of little ones would appreciate those 7 minutes of more sleep.

Wake up less often

Research participants who slept in wool also woke up less frequently during the night. Especially during the hot climate conditions of 29°C.

Sleep more settled

Research also found that adults, as well as children and babies, have a more settled sleep when sleeping on a wool mattress, mattress protector or sheepskin. These products typically have a soft and fluffy padding which reduce the pressure points on our body when we lie down. In other words, it makes it more comfortable to rest our body and we have less of a need to flip, toss and turn our body during the night (postural activity) which lets us get more rest.

Higher sleep efficiency

All of the above lead to a better sleep efficiency. Falling faster asleep, sleeping longer and waking up less often ensures a better sleep quality which lets us recover better during our sleep.

Babies cry less

One study conducted on babies found that only 30% of the babies sleeping on wool cried while 67% of the babies sleeping on cotton cried.

Underweight babies gained more weight

One study looked at the weight gain of underweight newborns and found that the babies sleeping on wool gained weight at a 61% higher rate than babies sleeping on cotton.

Feel like you have a better sleep quality

Sleep wool study participants also felt that they had a better sleep quality when sleeping in wool. So, while researchers were able to measure objectively the different aspects of high-quality sleep, the participants came to the same subjective conclusion of having slept better.

Help with skin health

I once met a woman who was suffering severely from eczema. Once she started sleeping in wool, her whole skin condition improved dramatically. This kind of experience has also been proven through research. Several studies have been conducted on adults and children suffering from atopic dermatitis. All participants who wore wool started to have better skin conditions over a short period of a couple of weeks. You can read more about this research here.

Wool is not an allergen

Researchers have also confirmed that wool is not an allergen and therefore wool is also a safe option for allergy sufferers. Read more here.

Wool products

With the above you now have an overview how sleeping in wool lets you sleep better. Now let’s look at what kind of wool products are available for our beds.

Wool duvet

A duvet is one of the most important elements of our bed that has a direct influence on the quality of our sleep. If the duvet makes us too hot we wake up more often. If we feel too cold, we are also uncomfortable. The wool in a duvet helps with all these issues at night. Due to its breathability, it helps keep the right body temperature ensuring that we don’t get too hot or too cold.

Did you know that every night we lose 1 litre of liquid that evaporates through our skin? This moisture when trapped underneath a blanket makes us feel hot and eventually also wet. Wool absorbs the moisture without feeling wet and releases it into the air.

Wool duvets come in different weights depending if you tend to be more hot or cold at night, how warm your bedroom is and also what season of the year it is. I have an all season wool duvet that is made up out of two duvets that you can button together. One is very thin and lightweight for summer and one is a medium weight for spring and autumn. When I pin the two duvets together they are perfect for cold winter nights.

Sleep better in Delux All seasons duver by the Wool Room at Wool Lifestyle

Photo sources: All season wool duvet by the Wool Room

Wool blanket

Some summer nights are just too hot even for a breathable wool duvet. During these very hot summer nights, I sleep under a very very thin lightweight merino wool blanket.  It is important that the blanket is made of very fine merino wool and feels soft and comfortable on your skin. In winters this thin blanket can add some extra warmth on top of your duvet if you need it.

Wool pillows

Finding the right pillow for a good night’s sleep is also important and of course, there are also options filled with wool. If you can already sleep better under and on wool, then you will also feel comfortable with putting down your head on wool. When I get too hot in bed, I also sweat on my head. I used to hate the feeling when my pillow would then be all wet, cold and uncomfortable. With my wool pillow that does not happen anymore as the wool also absorbs the moisture without feeling wet and releasing it later on.

What I like about wool pillows is that you can adjust the amount of filling by taking the wool out or adding more. One thing you need to do with a wool pillow is to shake and loosen up the pillow from time to time, as the wool fibres tend to clump together over time.

Wool mattress protector

If you just want to test if you can sleep better in wool, then start with a mattress protector made out of wool. The wool in the mattress protector will absorb moisture, regulate your temperature and make you feel settled on the soft padding of the mattress protector.

Wool mattress

If you are also looking to buy a new mattress you can also invest in a wool mattress. Wool mattresses are either completely filled with wool or just have a layer of wool on the top surface.

Wool nightwear

While you can sleep on and under wool, you can also sleep completely in wool by wearing nightwear made out of wool. When you choose nightwear, make sure it is made of super soft merino wool that feels soft on your skin. My recommendation is also to choose a lightweight merino wool fabric over a heavy and thick fabric. This will help you not get too hot at night.

There is not that much wool nightwear available in the market yet. If you don’t find anything you like, you can also choose a soft lightweight merino wool t-shirt and leggings or merino loungewear to sleep in at night. That is what I often do.

Wool sleeping bags for babies

As wool duvets are not ideal for small babies, there are also wool baby sleeping bags available. Depending on if you live in a colder or warmer climate you have different options in regards to warmth. There are sleeping bags made out of wool fabric only which is great for hot weather. For colder weather periods you can choose a sleeping bag that is filled with wool. No worries, the sleeping bags can be washed to assist with leaky diaper accidents.

Sheepskins for babies

As described above, wool bedding also improves the sleep of babies. However, during the day, babies also lie around a lot before they can start crawling or walking. This is where a sheepskin makes a baby’s first year more comfortable and settled. You can put a sheepskin in your baby’s pushchair or just on the floor in your house when your baby plays or takes a short nap. The sheepskin has the same properties as any other wool bedding products. It regulates temperature so your baby does not feel too hot or too cold. The wool of the sheepskin absorbs moisture, so even if it is hot, your baby will not get overheated or sweaty. The soft padding of the sheepskin makes sure your baby can lie comfortably and feel settled. And of course, the wool of the sheepskin also helps your baby fall asleep more easily and be better rested.

Wool bed

Last but not least you can of course also have your bed covered in wool fabric. While a wool covered bed does not have a direct influence on your sleep there are other advantages.

One aspect we hardly even think about is fire safety. Wool is hard to set on fire which means any fire in your home would not spread so easily with furniture covered in wool instead of synthetic fabrics. In addition, when wool does burn no toxic fumes are set free, which is often the actual cause of death during a fire. More wool covered furniture including your bed will make your home safer.

As we learned earlier, wool is also not a good home for dust mites, therefore you will have fewer issues with dust and dust allergies.

Wool also helps with sick building syndrome. This means wool absorbs volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air and only releases them later on into the air. This improves indoor air quality. You can find out more about VOCs and wool here.

The Wool Room has beds on display covered with wool. If you already have a bed in mind but need the wool fabric to cover the bed you can have a look at Abraham Moon and Camira Fabrics.

Isabella wool bed by the Wool Room on Wool Lifestyle Blog 1200x1200

Photo source: Isabella wool bed by the Wool Room

Hopefully, you found this information about sleeping better in wool helpful. Do you have a tip on how to integrate wool in your bedroom to help you sleep better? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you.

 

How to find wool clothing that is not itchy but soft

Do you find wool itchy? You are not alone, as many people do. This article explores why some wool is itchy and how to find super soft wool that is just wonderful to wear.

You may remember those moments in your childhood when your mother forced that scratchy wool beany onto you and all you could do was keep scratching your head. Or that hand knitted sweater that irritated your neck like crazy. Many people also don’t have good memories of wool stockings in the winter time. In the past, there have been many wool items that did not feel very comfortable on your skin. In fact, there is a whole generation who will avoid wool by all means because of their itchy wool childhood memories.

But there is hope. These childhood memories are no longer reality today because time and wool have changed and there are many more wool products available that are super soft to touch and comfortable to wear directly on your skin.

Before we explore why wool can feel itchy we need to clarify one thing and that is that even if some wool makes you itch, it does not mean that you have a wool allergy.

Wool is not an allergen

Many people think that they are allergic to wool. Before we continue, let’s be clear what an allergy is.  An allergy is actually a reaction of the body’s immune system to a substance in the environment that is harmless to a majority of people. These substances are called allergens and depending on the severity of the allergy trigger symptoms like swelling, difficulty breathing, a rash etc.

In 2016, esteemed researchers reviewed studies and research papers of the past 100 years about the topic of wool and allergy. Analysing all of these studies, researchers have found that wool is not an allergen. You can read more about the study here. Wool has the same chemical composition as human hair. Wool and hair are made of a protein called keratin. A wool allergy would mean that we would also be allergic to our own hair. There are very few cases of people being allergic to lanolin, which is the grease on the unwashed wool. However, there is no indication of the wool fibre itself being an allergen.

But why does wool itch?

The reason for people to find wool itchy is a mechanical one. Wool is a staple fibre spun into yarn. This means that some of the fibres stick out of the yarn. This property is what gives wool a fluffy touch (and also causes pilling). Once these fibres touch the skin, they can cause irritation on sensitive skins. However, not all wool fibres irritate the skin because it also depends on the fineness of the fibre. As wool is a natural fibre which grows on the back of a sheep,  wool can vary widely depending on the sheep breed. Some sheep have very coarse wool, this means, very thick wool. Other sheep, like the merino sheep, have very fine and soft wool. The finer (thinner) wool is, the less it will irritate the skin. Therefore it is important that wool garments made to wear next to skin are made from very fine merino wool. While other products like carpets are made of coarser wool because they are more durable.

It takes two: Itchy and Scratchy

Now we determined that not all wool is itchy. However, a lot also depends on the wearer and their skin condition. People with sensitive skin will perceive some fine wools also as itchy on their skin. This is especially the case for people with very thin skin or irritated skin. Wool can also feel itchier on the skin when the skin is hot and moist.

Choose superfine merino wool

Wool growers across the globe have invested a lot of time, money and skill to breed merino sheep with very soft and fine wool that does not irritate the skin. There is actually more superfine wool available in the market than there was a few years ago. The reason being that there was a higher demand for soft wool that can be worn comfortably on your skin, like longjohns, t-shirts, underwear, sportswear etc. Therefore, whenever you are searching for a new wool item, make sure you find garments made out of merino wool.

Understand the micron number

Another way to ensure you are buying soft and fine wool is to look for the micron number. A micron is one-millionth of a meter or one-thousandth of a millimeter.  The fineness of wool is expressed in the micron number. The smaller the number the finer the wool. A number between 15 to 17 micron would be very soft. Very rarely wool is as fine as 12 microns. Our own hair in comparison is on average 60-80 micron thick. Some retailers mention the micron number on their sales page online. Knowing the micron number will help you find soft wool garments.

Softness through processing

The softness of wool can also be reached through different spinning and processing techniques. The wool can be treated with certain chemicals to make it softer. There are also spinning techniques ensuring fewer fibres sticking out of the yarn.

Invest in high quality

Another indicator if a wool garment will be soft or irritate your skin is the quality or in other terms the price. More expensive brands would (generally speaking) invest in higher quality wool to ensure that the product is comfortable to wear. One quality factor is the length of the fibre. The longer the fibre the better it is integrated into the yarn and less loose ends will stick out. Cheaper wool often is shorter in length.

Try wool blends

Some people have less irritation of wool garments blended with other fibres. Silk with wool is, for example, a nice natural fibre combination. Silk is typically a much longer fibre and also super soft because it is a very thin fibre. The properties of silk can compliment wool making it less itchy on the skin.

Label: approved for sensitive skin

The wool industry is currently working on the development of a label that tests and identifies wool for sensitive skin. The testing equipment called the Wool ComfortMeter already exists and tests are underway. Once this label is available it will be even easier to find wool items that are wonderful to wear even for people with sensitive skin. In the meantime follow these three steps below.

How to find non-itchy wool

  • Search for wool garments made out of merino wool as the wool from merino sheep is the softest and best to wear next to skin.
  • Try to find information about the micron number of the wool used. The lower the number the softer the wool.
  • Try different wool brands as each one will be using different types of wool fabrics with different quality of wool. Just because one wool garment irritated your skin does not mean that a softer one from a different brand would do the same.

Hopefully, this little blog post was useful in helping you find wool garments that you can wear comfortably. Is there something I forgot? Or do you have a question, then please let me know in the comments below. I will be happy to help.

The most comfortable wool shoe ever?

If you want to know what heaven for your feet feels like, you have to slip into a pair of Allbirds Wool Loungers. Seriously! The first time I put my bare feet into the merino wool loafers I could not believe how soft and comfortable a shoe can be.

The company Allbirds produces two types of shoes, the wool runners and the wool loungers. The wool runners are a sneaker or trainer type shoe with laces while the wool lounger is more of a loafer without any laces.

Allbirds Wool Loungers grey colours Wool Lifestyle Blog 1200x800

Colours – basics and limited editions

The wool lounger comes in two basic colours – light grey and black. I think of the black more of a dark grey or chark coal colour. These two colours are always available in addition to a series of limited edition colours which keep on changing. As I write this blog post, Allbirds offers 6 additional special edition colours such as plum, moss, ocean blue etc. It is definitely worthwhile checking the website every so often to see the latest limited edition colours.

Allbirds Wool Lounger Wool Lifestyle Blog 1200x800

Material – super soft merino wool

The material used for the Allbirds wool loungers is very soft merino wool. The merino wool used comes from New Zealand and is manufactured into knitted fabric in Italy. The insole is also made out of wool.

Comfort

What is amazing about the Wool lounger is that there is only one seam on the inside of the shoe. This seamless cut of the shoe ensures that there is no friction and zero potential for blisters. The wool fabric is, as already mentioned, super soft but also flexible. The fabric adapts very nicely around your foot. In addition the fabric and the entire shoe are also very lightweight.

Allbirds_Wool Loungers _W_KotareSlate

Wool properties in action

Wool has a lot of great properties of which a few come into play with the Allbirds wool loungers.

Antibacterial means less odour

Our shoes tend to start to smell, once bacteria from our sweat start to accumulate in the fabric. So basically it is not our sweat that smells but the bacteria that start to grow afterwards. Bacteria however don’t like wool all that much and therefore don’t start to grow on the wool fabric. And less bacteria on the wool lounger means less stink from our feet.

Breathability – moisture wicking

Wool is also a very breathable fibre. This means that once our feet get a little bit warmer from walking or in summer, the moisture vapour that starts to build up around our feet will be absorbed by the wool shoe and released into the air. This ensures that our feet stay dry and cool – like an air conditioning system.

Insulation – staying warm

While wool can keep our feet cool, it can also do the opposite in cold weather conditions. Wool has insulation properties that will ensure that our feet stay warm. Wool fibre has a very fine crimp. This crimp forms tiny air pockets within the fabric. These air pockets act as an insulator, similar to a thermos flask.

Stain repellant – staying clean

Due to the wool fibre structure it is also naturally stain repellant. Any dirt, tomato sauce or coffee that accidentally hit your wool loungers will not be absorbed by the wool fibre, it will either roll off by iteslf or just sit ther on top of the fabric to easily be removed with a moist cloth.

Water resistant but not waterproof

Wool is also to some extent water repellant. So a little summer drizzle or a few drops will not be a problem and your feet will not get wet. However, if you need to walk in your wool loungers through heavy rain, indeed the shoes will get wet and also heavy. Wool can absorb water up to 35% of its own weight before feeling wet, but once this treshold is reached the shoe will feel wet and heavy.

Allbirds_Wool Loungers _M_KotareNavy

Care instructions

The shoe can be washed in the washing machine’s wool cycle. Once washed the shoe should only air dried and not put into the tumble dryer. The insole can also be washed but Allbirds also offers the insoles to be bought individually at a price of $25 USD. However, due to wool’s properties, you will not have to wash your wool loungers often, as airing will do the trick.

Price and shipping

The wool lounger is available for $95 USD and $160 NZD. For the moment Allbirds only ships within the US and New Zealand. If you happen to be in San Francisco or New York, you can also visit the Allbirds store to inspect the wool loungers before falling in love and buying yourself a pair.

Allbirds store sign Wool Lifestyle

About Allbirds

The company Allbirds was founded by Tim Brown from New Zealand and Joey Zwillinger from the US. Their goal was to create a shoe made out of natural materials and using the positive attributes of merino wool. The company first launched their product successfully on Kickstarter and has since grown into a successful business.

Allbirds is quite transparent about their supply chain and is trying to reduce the product’s and company’s environmental impact wherever possible.

To find out more about the Allbirds Wool Lounger, visit the company’s website here.

If you manage to get your hands on a pair of Allbirds Wool Loungers, then please tell me if you agree that this is the most comfortable shoe there is so far. Leave a comment below, I would love to hear about your experience.

 

Allbirds Wool Loungers W_KotareLemon Wool Lifestyle Blog