Australian Cotton, all the better for sleeping in

For more than 80 years, Sussan have been making bedtime the best time. Committed to bringing joy and unapparelled comfort to sleepwear, we have been using Australian Cotton in our designs for decades.

In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on the role that a good night’s sleep plays in our holistic wellness.

Poor sleep has become a major worldwide health and wellbeing concern, with almost one third of adults suffering from sleep disruption.

This confirms what Sussan have known all along: that self-care should start with sleep.

While cotton has always held a significant place in our night-time routines, the effects of cotton sleepwear and bedding had not previously been quantified or objectively measured, until now.

A new study by researchers at RMIT, led by Olga Troynikov, Professor of Functional Materials and Human-Centred Engineering at RMIT — and supported by the Cotton Research & Development Corporation and its US counterpart Cotton Inc. — has provided a scientifically based evaluation of the attributes of cotton products on our sleep quality. And it’s good news for cotton lovers like us.

To celebrate World Sleep Day, we spoke to Olga about the sleep study results and her team’s findings for a better night’s rest.

How important is what we wear to bed in aiding our sleep?

We have very sophisticated, regulating response mechanisms in our bodies. When it’s hot, we sweat as a cooling mechanism. When it’s cold, we get goosebumps, so our skin surface area reduces, and we lose less internal heat.

When we sleep, these mechanisms slow down because the brain is resting, regenerating and restoring its neurological connections. If you are too hot or cold, then your brain is busy looking after heating and cooling you, rather than resting. It’s the same as if you eat a lot before bed, you don’t sleep as well because the brain has to look after digestion.

When we are too hot, our skin also has receptors that signal the brain to consciously wake or kick off our blankets and remove layers of sleepwear. This means you are tossing and turning, which again interrupts the brain, and your rest. You wake up feeling tired because your sleep has been disrupted.

The fibre composition in our sleepwear and bedding has a significant influence on our sleeping microenvironment — particularly the microclimate temperature and humidity next to our skin.

If your sleeping microenvironment and microclimate remain stable and comfortable, it is easier for the body because it doesn’t have to get involved too much in thermal regulation and your brain can stay focussed on its restorative job. What this study shows, is that cotton, in comparison to synthetic products, keeps this microenvironment and the next-to-skin microclimate temperature and humidity more stable, comfortable and optimal for sleeping.

How was the study carried out?

Because humans have so many variables that can affect their sleep, we eliminated those variables with a sophisticated thermal manikin, Newton.

The research team tested bedding and sleepwear made from 100 percent cotton; a 60:40 cotton-polyester blend and 100 percent polyester. Typical summer sleeping conditions in a hot environment were chosen as hot, ambient sleep environments can have a major negative impact on our sleep quality.

For each experiment, the manikin was placed in selected sleeping systems with the different fibre compositions, programmed to “sleep” through human sleeping cycles and continuous measurement of temperature and humidity in the next-to-skin microclimates were carried out.

When we continuously measured the temperature and humidity next to the skin through sleeping, it showed that cotton keeps this microenvironment more stable and optimal for sleeping, in comparison to synthetic products.

For example, the humidity levels of the 100 percent cotton ensemble remained within the noted human comfort range of 40 to 60 percent across the entire sleep cycle, providing an optimal humidity environment for sleep comfort.

How important is it to have research into our sleeping habits?

Our health depends so much on how well we sleep, and the importance of sleep is becoming more significant to our overall health. Sleep loss impairs task performance and post-physical activity recovery, cognitive performance and mood, impairs decision-making, heightens fatigue and decreases vigour.

With the continued growth of synthetic fibres into sleepwear, our study was critical in objectively measuring and quantifying the performance attributes of cotton versus synthetic.

In the past, the focus of sleep studies has been on the effects of different room environments on sleep quality. Research on sleeping thermal microclimates and their effect on sleep quality is scarce and before this study, the effects of cotton sleepwear and bedding on sleep had not been objectively studied or quantified.

This research provides brands, retailers and consumers with the confidence that cotton fibre products will give a better opportunity for improved sleep quality.

Shop today, sleep better tomorrow, and we’ll pay it forward

For any Australian cotton pyjamas sold on World Sleep Day Friday 18th March, we will donate a pair to Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA). Shop Australian Cotton Sleepwear.

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