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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.