Study backs wool for a good night's sleep

2 April 2012

We, as human beings, spend about half our life in bed. Bed is our own private sanctuary, tailored to our personal comforts to provide us with sound slumber. So if we spend so much of our life under the coziness of our doona we need to do everything in our power to ensure a good night’s rest.

Dr Chin-Moi Chow with postgraduate student Mirim Shin

Dr Chin-Moi Chow with postgraduate student Mirim Shin - both from the University of Sydney, Australia - and The Woolmark Company's Dr Paul Swan.

For years, scientists have attempted to solve the mysteries of sleep – how we sleep, why we sleep and what factors are pivotal for a good night’s sleep. The wool industry has invested in this area as well over recent decades, and a number of studies have shown advantages for infants, adults and the elderly in sleeping on or under wool. Such evidence can provide an important marketing opportunity for wool, as part of educating consumers that wool is an important part of a lifestyle of health and sustainability.

One of the most recent major studies was conducted by The Woolmark Company in 2006, in a project led by Dr Chin-Moi Chow from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

This study, which developed a bedding product comfort factor rating system, became an important piece of technical information assisting companies involved in developing and marketing wool bedding products.

Now, as part of a strategy to build wool's health and wellbeing credentials The Woolmark Company is funding a postgraduate study as part of the commitment to this area.

Initial results generated in the pilot (set-up) phase of the study have confirmed that under varying conditions people sleep better in bedding products made from wool. And that’s great news for those Australian woolgrowers whose clip is of the broader micron range.

For the pilot phase, eight healthy males and females, aged between 18 and 35 years old, volunteered for the study, which involved 10 nights of sleep in Dr Chow’s sleep laboratory, under different temperature conditions.

Encouraging results were found, with wool bedding and Merino apparel proving to be beneficial to a good night’s sleep.

In cold (17 degrees Celsius) conditions a combination of wool sleepwear and bedding saw participants fall asleep more quickly and have a more efficient sleep compared to when tested using non-wool sleepwear and bedding.

The Woolmark Company Group Manager for Market Intelligence and Reporting Dr Paul Swan is confident these findings will excite both woolgrowers and bedding manufacturers.

“Lack of sleep negatively impacts on many areas of human function such as mental and physical performance, growth and repair as well as metabolic functions, and the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep is crucial to acquiring a healthy quantity and quality of sleep,” Dr Swan said.

We are now developing a very solid body of contemporary evidence which supports claims that wool bedding is beneficial to a good night’s sleep, which is in turn central to a person’s health and wellbeing.”

On completion of this pilot study the next phase will involve a larger number of participants and will include core body temperature measurements.

Download a brochure on the benefits of sleeping in or under wool (pdf 118Kb)