Interior design doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking about the many uses for wool. Suiting and knitwear seem most obvious, of course, given the ways in which we wear those garments year-round. And yet far beyond rugs and upholstery, wool plays an increasingly large part in home design, with research, manufacturing developments and design innovation leading to its use in pieces as far ranging as curtains, bedding, lighting, artworks and decorative objects and visual art.
Australian Merino wool is an entirely natural fibre grown year-round. Grazing on extensive grassland terrain, Merino sheep in Australia are free-range animals that live a largely carefree existence. From the high rainfall areas of the eastern seaboard to the drier pastoral areas of the west, Merino sheep have become an integral part of the iconic Australian landscape, which is home to about 70 million sheep. Known for its resilience, drape, easy care, biodegradability, fire resistance and health properties, wool is a natural choice when it comes to interior design.
A three-year study on wool and its benefits builds on decades of research and points to the positive role of wool bedding and sleepwear in ensuring better sleep outcomes. The study, conducted by the University of Sydney, Australia, and funded by The Woolmark Company, explored the impact of wool bedding and sleepwear on sleep quality and quantity in adults. The three-year study measured total sleep time and sleep efficiency – the portion of time spent asleep compared to the total time in bed – across 17 participants, and found that wool bedding and wool sleepwear are beneficial to a good night’s sleep.
In warm conditions – set at 29oC – participants wearing wool slept significantly longer, which reflected faster sleep onset and deeper sleep, as they woke up less frequently. They achieved an average total sleep time of 7 hours and 30 minutes, compared with 7 hours 15 minutes when using cotton, and 7 hours 10 minutes when using synthetic fibres. In both neutral (22 oC) and cold (17 oC) conditions, participants using a combination of wool sleepwear and wool bedding reached an average sleep efficiency of 91.25 per cent in neutral conditions and 92 per cent in cold conditions. In comparison, participants using non-wool bedding and sleepwear achieved sleep efficiency of 88.5 per cent per cent and 91 per cent in neutral and cold conditions, respectively.
Earlier studies have also revealed that underweight newborns were able to gain weight 61% more effectively when sleeping on a wool underlay compared to babies using a cotton sheet, which was linked to the quality of sleep the wool bedding helped to achieve. The results are most likely linked to the unique natural properties of wool, which include temperature regulation, moisture management and the fibre’s exceptionally soft feel on the skin. Other inherent benefits include fire resistance, odour resistance and moisture absorption, making it a compelling choice for the home and for every member of the family. Wool is also natural, renewable and biodegradable, meaning its footprint is gentle on the planet.
Styling Steve Cordony | Photography Edward Urrutia