Merino wool – studies show it’s great for sleeping

sleep well in merino wool

Even I was surprised by the University of Sydney study that wool bed clothes help you get a brilliant night's sleep - even in hot summer temperatures.

Merino wool - a very fine kind of wool from the Merino sheep - has fibres so fine that they bend easily and so don't scratch, preventing the itchiness traditionally associated with wool. This makes it way more comfy to sleep in than cotton as it moves with your body and is still soft on your skin.  But that's  not all.

Baby in Disana's knitted organic Merino wool sleeping bag


Study shows Merino wool beats cotton for sleep quality

I knew that Merino wool breathes so well and that it wicks the moisture away from my skin, keeping me warm without being hot or sweaty (working at Cambridge Baby has taught me a lot about wool).  This eases the workload of the body, helping it relax.

But a new study by the University of Sydney shows that wool makes even more of a difference to to our quality of sleep when temperatures rise.  Participants who slept in wool bedding and clothes at 29C fell asleep quicker, slept more efficiently and slept longer than those in cotton or synthetics.

Wool helps sleep duration on hot nights


You can see that wool outperforms other fabrics as measured by the length of sleep - here at a temperature of 29C, a really hot night. Even on cooler nights, sleeping in wool results in higher "sleep efficiency" than cotton or synthetics.  This is a measure of how long you're actually asleep when you're in bed trying to be asleep - and so takes into account how easily you fall asleep, how restful your night is and so on.

But surprisingly - and rather counter-intuitively - the difference in quality of sleep between those sleeping in wool and those sleeping in other materials was the greatest in hot temperatures.  


Wool helps you sleep more efficiently

Although wool shows greater sleep efficiency overall, it outclasses other fabrics when the temperature is warmer.

I've always loved sleeping in my Merino wool silk vest. It's so soft and stretchy that it hugs you in a really gentle way. It's so comfortable because wool fibres can bend up to 20 000 times more and can be extended 5 times further than cotton!  But I didn't realise that it was actively helping me sleep. I'm glad it does.

It's not really surprising, as sheep have developed fleeces that keep them warm in freezing winters but cool in scorching summers so wool is designed to work with the body and keep skin and body comfortable at all times.  What is surprising is that as a culture we have been so taken away by synthetics and plant-based cotton.

Now I know my family and I are all wearing a natural high-performance fabric - and yet joining ancient tribes in doing so.  Ancient Britons wore finely woven wool, and Bedouins have worn wool to keep them cool in the sun and warm in chilly desert nights for centuries.

Organic Wool and Silk Baby Bodysuit

In our temperate climate, wool works just as well, and now I know when I put my children in fine Merino wool pyjamas, I'm part of a great world-wide tradition - and I'm helping them sleep.

Rachel x

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