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Beyond the Bale : March 2012
March 2012 BEYOND THE BALE 15 OFF-FARM Dr Chin-Moi Chow and Mirim Shin of the University of Sydney and Dr Paul Swan of AWI. 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. Mirim Shin has endured many sleepless nights during the past six months, a rather ironic situation for someone who is conducting comprehensive research into the benefits and factors involved in sleep. The University of Sydney postgraduate student is working to complete her Ph.D as part of the AWI-funded sleep study led by Dr Chin-Moi Chow, who has established a specialist sleep research facility at the University’s Health Sciences Faculty campus at Lidcombe, in Sydney. It was this facility which was used for the conduct of the 2006 Woolmark Sleeping Comfort Study, led by Dr Chow, and which also figured prominently in the development of SportwoolTM. Having an undergraduate qualification in Health Science, Ms Shin completed an Honours program focusing in electroencephalography – more commonly known as EEG and in simple terms the recording of electrical activity along the scalp. Now, Ms Shin is taking her EEG studies one step further under the supervision of Dr Chow and AWI Group Manager for Market Intelligence and Reporting, Dr Paul Swan. With the pilot phase of the sleep study now completed, Ms Shin is set to begin phase two this March and is excited in what future findings will reveal. “The differences in how people sleep depends partly on the different types of bedding used and the difference in temperature,” Ms Shin revealed. “From the initial study, we found that people sleep better in wool bedding and Merino wool apparel in colder conditions compared with synthetic materials in the same conditions. We also found people have a better night’s sleep in cooler conditions compared to a more neutral temperature.” As Ms Shin and Dr Chow explained how all participants endured all types of testing conditions it became evident that woollen bedding and Merino wool apparel was a clear winner, which is bound to give Australian woolgrowers peace of mind when they sleep at night. With a focus on learning how people sleep under different bedding types and with different types of apparel, in two temperature conditions, the study aims to determine the thermal comfort of individuals and create a microclimate. “ Ultimately we want to find out what is the most comfortable sleeping arrangement.” Previous research has revealed that wool textile products breathe more naturally than synthetic products and wool has a hygroscopic property that draws water vapour away from the body and skin. These qualities make wool products ideal for creating an optimal microclimate conducive to sleep. Unfortunately however, there have not been too many systematically conducted trials to prove this – that is until now, which is why this study will not only excite scientists affiliated within this field but also key stakeholders in the wool industry. From personal experiences both Ms Shin and Dr Chow said they found Merino wool apparel to be quite comfortable. “When I wear wool I feel it creates a comfortable and constant temperature,” Dr Chow said, with Ms Shin adding the Merino wool garments used in the pilot sleep study were easy to wash and dry allowing for a hassle-free environment. And with the immense pressure involved in undertaking a PhD study, a hassle- free workplace is a huge plus, especially considering Ms Shin is bound to have many more sleepless nights ahead of her as she monitors the sleep patterns of others. More information: www.merino.com Sydney University research Study backs wool for a good night’s sleep