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Wellness

The science of sleep


Falling asleep faster may now be easier than you think, and whilst it doesn’t involve actually counting sheep, it does involve wearing wool.

Scientific studies have tested the sleep of both older and younger adults and found that wool helps keep the body in the "thermal comfort zone" most conducive to restful sleep.

When wearing Merino wool, older adults are falling asleep at least 10 minutes faster than when wearing other fibres, and younger adults are getting at least four minutes extra sleep in wool, than if wearing other fibres.

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

The latest study conducted by researchers at The University of Sydney, with support from The Woolmark Company, has found adults wearing wool fell asleep in just 12 minutes compared with 22 and 27 minutes for those wearing polyester or cotton.

The study found fabrics made from natural fibres allowed for higher rates of heat and moisture transfer and higher thermoregulation than those made from synthetic fibres.

“Wool regulates your body temperature far better, keeping you in what is known as 'the thermal comfort zone'. You therefore not only fall asleep quicker, sleep longer, but also have deeper, better quality sleep.”

Associate Professor Chin Moi Chow, The University of Sydney

The study also found that the lower humidity in the skin microclimate when wearing wool sleepwear promoted more restful sleep in comparison to polyester and cotton sleepwear.

“Our continuing research in sleepwear fabrics has shown benefits of sleeping in wool," explains researcher Associate Professor Chin Moi Chow, from The University of Sydney. “Maybe it is not a coincidence because wool regulates your body temperature far better, keeping you in what is known as 'the thermal comfort zone'. You therefore not only fall asleep quicker, sleep longer, but also have deeper, better quality sleep.”

An earlier study, also conducted by the University of Sydney and The Woolmark Company, which was published in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep (2016) researched the effects of fabric for sleepwear and bedding on sleep at ambient temperatures of 17°C and 22°C.

Seventeen healthy young adults underwent nine nights of polysomnography testing and found that the time it took to fall asleep was significantly shortened when sleeping in superfine Merino wool, with trends of increased total sleep time and sleep efficiency compared to cotton sleepwear. The group fell asleep four minutes faster on average when wearing Merino wool rather than cotton, taking 11 minutes instead of 15.

From pyjamas, blankets, doonas, mattress covers and pillows, wool aids in a better night’s sleep.

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