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The science of sleep

Falling asleep may be easier than you know. These days, more than ever, it's important to invest in sleep health and get the most from your waking hours.

A good night’s sleep has been shown to boost immunity, optimise memory and cognitive function and is important for managing anxiety, so it is worth prioritising.


Research has shown babies sleep better in Merino wool. PHOTO. Merineo

Babies sleep better

Sleeping on woollen underlays helps babies sleep more peacefully. The texture and thermo attributes of wool are thought to reduce stress in sleeping infantsi.

Research has shown that newborns sleeping on wool underlays spend 8% less time making minor movements, 14% less time making major movements and are less than half as likely to cry when sleeping on woollen underlays compared to cottonii.

Restful sleep promotes healthy growth and sleeping on wool has been shown to positively influence weight gain in underweight newbornsiii,iv.

Pilot programs of Merino wool sleeping bags for babies report newborn parents saying their babies slept better when in a Merino wool sleeping bag compared with other products.

Adults wearing wool fell asleep in just 12 minutes compared with 22 and 27 minutes for those wearing polyester or cotton.
The University of Sydney
The University of Sydney


Adults sleep better

Wearing wool sleepwear and using wool bedding and underlays improves the quality of sleep for adults. This is beneficial because sleep quality and the ability to regulate body temperature decrease with age.

Wool has superior thermal insulation, moisture transport and buffering properties compared with other fibre types, making it more comfortable to sleep in.


Wool sleepwear soothes adults to sleep faster and for longer.

Wool sleepwear

Adults wearing wool sleepwear have been shown to fall asleep faster and have a less disturbed sleep compared to other fibre types in warm conditionsv.

Adults aged 65 and older fell asleep in 12 minutes on average, compared to 22 minutes when wearing polyester and 27 minutes when wearing cotton.

In another study, 17 healthy young participants (10 males) were studied under 8 sleeping conditions, consisting of a combination of two temperatures (17°C and 22°C), two sleeping apparel (wool and cotton) and two bedding type (wool and synthetic), after an adaptation night. The study revealed that in cooler conditions sleeping in wool apparel significantly shortened sleep onset compared to cotton sleepwearvi.

Wool underlays

Adults sleeping on wool underlays sleep more peacefully and wake feeling more refreshedvii. Compared to sleeping on a cotton sheet, wool underlays provide greater diffusion of pressure points, better insulation and better perspiration absorption making it more comfortableviii.


Wool blankets

The comparative thermo-physiological advantages of wool blankets compared to cotton/acrylic blend blankets have been shown by Umbachix using laboratory measurements and human sleep studies.

The author concluded wool blankets demonstrated better thermal insulation, moisture transport, and moisture buffering than the cotton/acrylic blanket. It was thought these properties promoted a “refreshing restorative sleep” through increased warmth and reduced loss of heat, positively influencing blood flow, reducing symptoms as circulation increased.


i Scott, S., Lucas, P., Cole, T., and Richards, M., The Lancet, October 29, 1983, p1014-1016.
ii Powley, M., Nye, P., and Buckfield, P. The Lancet, May 3, 1980, p979-980.
iii Scott, S., and Richards, M., The Lancet, May 12 1979, p1028.
iv Scott, S., Lucas, P., Cole, T., and Richards, M., The Lancet, October 29, 1983, p1014-1016.
v Chow, Shin, Mahar, Halaki, Ireland (2018) The impact of sleepwear fibre type on sleep quality in older adults under warm ambient conditions. p2-18.
vi Shin, M., Halaki, M., Swan, P., Ireland, A. H., & Chow, C. M. (2016). The effects of fabric for sleepwear and bedding on sleep at ambient temperatures of 17°C and 22°C. Nature and science of sleep, 8, 121–131. doi:10.2147/NSS.S100271
vii Dickson, P.R. (1984), The Medical Journal of Australia, January 21, 1984, p87-89.
vii Kiyak, E., Akdemir, N., Fesci, H. (2010), Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 26:3, 47-52.
ix Umbach, K.H. (1986), Journal of the Textile Institute, 77:3, 212-222.

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