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Beyond the Bale : March 2012
1414 FAST FACTS l Consistent with earlier science findings, an AWI-funded study undertaken by the University of Sydney has found that a better night’s sleep is achieved when sleeping on or under wool. l In the pilot stage of this three- year study, eight volunteers participated in the study and were tested in varying temperatures using both wool and non-wool bedding product. l According to this study, wool sleeping apparel and bedding promotes sleep onset and sleep efficiency. Figure 1. Comparison of Sleep Onset Latency between wool and synthetic sleeping apparel and bedding under neutral (22°C) and cold (17°C) conditions. Figure 2. Comparison of Sleep Efficiency between wool and synthetic sleeping apparel and bedding under neutral (22°C) and cold (17°C) conditions. 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. 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, AWI is building on these earlier research foundations through conduct of a follow-on study with Dr Chow’s laboratory, examining the impacts on sleep quality of sleeping with wool bedding, and in prototype wool sleep wear. The new project is examining a wide range of measures of sleep quality, including polysomnography (brain wave pattern analysis), actigraphy, energy expenditure, and skin temperature measurements, in addition to subjective assessments such as the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaire, and analysis of sleep diaries kept by subjects. AWI is funding a postgraduate 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 (see Figure 1) and have a more efficient sleep (see Figure 2) compared to when tested using non-wool sleepwear and bedding. AWI Group Manager for Market Intelligence and Reporting, Dr Paul Swan, who is responsible for AWI’s investments in wool’s health and wellbeing credentials, is confident these findings will excite both woolgrowers and bedding manufacturers. “Lack of sleep negatively impacts on many areas of human function such as Dr Paul Swan of AWI tests out the facilities at the Sleep Study laboratory. 1414 OFF-FARM March 2012 BEYOND THE BALE Study backs wool for a good night’s sleep