Users of wool bedding maintain that woollen textiles make a real difference to comfort and quality of sleep. Amongst other benefits, woollen bedding helps maintain a more consistent body temperature. Sleep is strongly influenced by body and external temperatures and even slight changes may have an adverse effect on it.
Why is woollen bedding so unique?
Wool is a natural animal product. Plentiful & renewable, it is an ideally ecological material. Wool is produced the world over and there are several types available in addition to common wool; Merino, Angora, Kashmir, Alpaca and even Camel. These all come from different types of animal and have different grades of fineness. The quality of wool is determined by its fiber diameter, crimp, yield, color, and staple strength. Fiber diameter is the single most important wool characteristic determining quality and price.
Irrespective of their origin, wool fibres display similar properties. Wool fibres are not straight but crimped. The finer the wool, the more crimps in the fibre. This feature distinguishes wool from other fibres in that the spun and woven material springs back naturally when bent. This can last for 20,000 deformations which is why woollen products last so long. The crimps allow the wool to be spun into a yarn that is strong and long-lasting.
The crimps in the fabric of the wool trap air in the fibres allowing your body temperature to remain more even. Wool will keep heat out as well as in, desert tribesmen have long worn woollen garments. In addition. sweat is wicked away keeping the skin dry and comfortable. Wool absorbs moisture better than any synthetic material, up to 30% of it's own weight.
Wool ignites at higher temperatures than cotton and is also self extinguishing. Its use in carpets for public areas and aircraft is for this reason, also the gasses given off are less toxic than man made equivalents.
Lanolin Wool products contain lanolin which is an naturally occurring wool oil. It is retained in the wool because of gentler washing techniques in the manufacturing process. Lanolin has moisture-retaining properties helping wool to retain it's elasticity. Lanolin also has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Lanolin Wool products, because that natural oil is retained, have these properties too. Additionally lanolin resists dirt penetrating into the fibres which makes cleaning much easier.
Wool is also hypoallergenic meaning that people with skin or dust mite allergies are able to wear wool next to their skin where other fabrics may cause problems. Occasionally, there may be an allergy to the lanolin experienced where lower lanolin levels in the wool will be an advantage.
Anti-allergic properties of wool Despite its natural moisture content, wool is dry, porous nature repels mildew and dust mites. It directly causes wool fabrics are good for people allergic to dust mites.
Wool is a versatile and hard wearing material. Use has dropped since the nineteen-sixties due to the rise of man made fibres, but its superiority remains both for clothing and for bedding. Due to the unique characteristics of wool fabrics, their capacity to counteract temperature changes and an almost immediate impression of warmth on contact with the skin, the beneficial effects of wool on comfort and an improved quality of sleep can be considered certain.
Based on: Natural Wool Fabrics in Physiotherapy by Krzysztof Gieremek and Wojciech Ciesla from: "Physical Therapy Perspectives in the 21st Century - Challenges and Possibilities", INTECH 2012.