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BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 06 Sept '19
Is organic wool bedding the most ethical way to get a good night’s sleep?
This article first appeared in our Restoration Revolution issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 06 Sept 2019. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Trouble sleeping? There are many possible explanations – from bacteria, dust mites and allergens to toxic chemicals, overheating and even animal welfare concerns.
Hollow fibre and microfibre duvets are made from polyester, a synthetic material derived from petroleum. The toxic chemicals used to create polyester pollute the environment and remain in the fabric that covers you in bed.
Down is a natural, longer lasting alternative that’s also an effective insulator, but these duvets bring animal welfare concerns: the feathers used are in some cases plucked from ducks and geese while they are still alive.
Scientific studies have shown that sleeping with wool bedding increases regenerative sleep by 25% when compared with other bedding types – and when the wool’s organic, you can rest your mind over animal welfare, too.
Organic certification ensures sheep are reared, fed, sheltered and transported with consideration for their wellbeing; cruel practices are prohibited and animal stress is minimised.
Textiles from the Pennines
Shaun and Julie Daniel, founders of Luna Textiles, have been manufacturing and developing beautiful organic wool bedding in the UK since 2002. All the wool in their Natural Comfort GOTS-certified organic products is sourced from British Wool, which in turn is supplied by organically certified British farms.
The mill is situated high in the Pennines on the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire: two counties with a long history of producing some of the finest fabrics and textiles in the world.
‘The reason so many mills were situated in this area is to do with the weather conditions’, Shaun explains. ‘All natural fibres are processed through the textile machines to a higher quality if the atmospheric conditions are damp. The Pennines frequently benefit from this type of weather.’
How sheep get it right
Wool fibres are hygroscopic, which means they absorb moisture. They can, in fact, absorb more than 30% of their weight without feeling wet or damp – which is great news for sheep grazing on the damp Pennines. It’s also good news for anyone looking for a good night’s sleep.
When wool absorbs moisture from humid air, a phenomenon called ‘heat of sorption’ means it also gets warmer. Conversely, when wool loses moisture by desorption in low humidity it becomes cooler. ‘This can reduce the effect of sudden changes in night-time temperature’, Julie says, ‘and it greatly enhances insulation and comfort.’
If wool absorbs 35% of the water vapour in a humid atmosphere, such as your bed when you’re sleeping, it quickly produces as much heat as you’d get from around eight hours with an electric blanket. When the reverse occurs and wool loses moisture in a dry atmosphere (by desorption), it will cause an equivalent cooling effect.
‘A wool duvet works in harmony with the human body as it enters the different phases of sleep, in all climates and at all temperatures’, Shaun explains. ‘It achieves this through the naturally occurring insulating and cooling effect of wool. There’s no other known fill type for duvets that can do this as efficiently as wool can.’
The natural properties of wool could also put an end to bed-sharing frustrations. Much as you may love your partner, you probably don’t want to sleep at the exact same temperature; it’s not uncommon to spend half the night kicking off the duvet, only to wake up re-covered and in a sweat.
‘We are regularly asked if a wool duvet would benefit sleeping partners who prefer warmer or cooler duvets’, Julie says. ‘The answer is yes: the wool will react to the individual’s body temperature and not affect the person next to them. As an example, ladies at that certain stage of life where temperature fluctuation is an issue could benefit from using a Natural Comfort duvet.’
Click here to find out why Luna Textiles organic wool bedding is a My Green Pod Hero
Wool vs down
While wool duvets help to regulate humidity and temperature as you sleep, down and feather fills trap moisture and can create a clammy feel. This is just one of the reasons why Shaun feels the most noticeable difference between a wool and down duvet is sheer comfort.
‘A wool duvet tends to be quieter and softer, as some feather and down duvets can suffer from quills penetrating through the fabric. The quills can also produce noise as they snap and break’, he explains. ‘A Natural Comfort wool duvet will not form empty pockets or cold spots, and nor will it clump together.’
The bedding in the Luna Textiles Natural Comfort range promotes and guarantees animal welfare and protection of the environment, so you can rest assured that no animals were harmed in their production. ‘Down is a by-product from the food chain’, Julie tells us. ‘With wool, the sheep are sheared as part of a good animal husbandry requirement.’
Luna Textiles supports British farms and has received a British Wool Crook Mark award, verifying that the wool used in its Natural Comfort range is 100% British and purchased through the British Wool scheme.
The Lunatex Natural Comfort range has also received GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification, which is recognised as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres. It defines high-level environmental criteria along the entire supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria as well.
To gain certification, the animals must be reared on organic feed and grazed on organic land, and free to pursue their natural behaviour with plenty of space outside and a free-range life. The farmers must take a preventative approach to disease, so animals are not routinely treated with antibiotics, wormers or pesticides.
Allergens and toxins
There are far fewer allergens associated with wool than with down – and unlike down, wool duvet fillings don’t require harsh chemical cleaning.
As well as being low in allergens and free from harmful chemicals and toxins, wool bedding is also dust mite resistant and prevents bacterial buildup. This means anyone who suffers from chemical sensitivity, asthma or allergies could benefit from using a wool duvet or other products from Luna Textiles’ Natural Comfort range.
Naturally fire resistant and durable, Natural Comfort wool bedding will provide many years of service – and wool products can be composted at the end of their useful life.
‘A pillow should always be changed at least every two years’, Julie advises, ‘whereas a duvet and mattress protector can last for up to 10 years with no change in its performance.’
Natural Comfort products will benefit from a regular shake – and pillows a regular plumping. Where possible they should be exposed to sunlight and a regular airing to allow the fibres to breathe and prevent allergens from building up. They can all be dry cleaned using good-quality eco-cleaners.
Quality and luxury
Luna Textiles’ Natural Comfort range is the result of a vision to manufacture high-quality natural fibre bedding products to match and better the standards seen in other luxury bedding types.
Highly skilled machinists hand-finish the bedding products, which are made from the best cottons and finest white British wool to bring a level of quality and luxury previously unseen in this kind of bedding. The Natural Comfort range would benefit anyone who wants to get a good night’s sleep under an ethically sourced and manufactured duvet – while at the same time promoting British manufacturing and farming.