Tired of tossing and turning and struggling to sleep each night? It may be time to put on some flannel pajamas.
A pair of studies in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep found that what people wear to bed matters, and those who swap cotton or polyester for wool fall asleep faster and sleep for longer.
“Not so long ago sleeping under wool bedding was the norm, and science is now rediscovering the benefits of sleeping in wool,” co-author Dr. Paul Swan of the University of Sydney told the Daily Mail this week. “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.’”
The first study from 2016 followed 17 participants – 10 young men and seven young women – as they tested different kinds of sleepwear and bedding. The study monitored skin temperature during sleep, as well as when sleep began and ended, heart rate and brain wave patterns.
They found that those woolly flannel pajamas might actually help sleep, possibly by better regulating body temperature. Participants wearing wool fell asleep about four minutes faster and enjoyed an average of seven minutes more sleep than their cotton-wearing counterparts.
A more recent study followed 36 older adults and tested the way cotton, polyester and merino wool pajamas affected their sleep. Seniors in merino flannel pajamas fell asleep in about 12 minutes, compared to 22 minutes of polyester-wearers and 27 minutes for those in cotton.
“These findings highlight wool, next to the skin, as an efficient insulator that may influence skin warming and hence promote sleep onset and sleep quality,” the researchers wrote.
Switching to flannel pajamas could be a simple way to make sleeping a little more efficient – which can be important nowadays, Swan pointed out.
“Enjoying good sleep has become increasingly difficult in modern times, and so anything that helps is great for your mental and physical health,” he said.