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So you're hot in bed? Congratulations!

Let's face it, it's no fun is it? It used to be a term we would all of been proud of in our youth, but it now brings to mind hot sweaty clothes, 3 a.m. wakefulness and even the odd trip outside to cool down.

Well, what if I could persuade you that the materials you choose to sleep in will determine how well you sleep? Would you believe me? Let's see.

Just as you wouldn't take a chihuahua to round up sheep, neither should you wear certain materials in bed. Each material is perfectly designed for a purpose in mind and that may not include sleeping. Materials fall into different categories but for our purposes, let's look at 2 of their properties:

  • Their wicking ability.

  • Their breathable ability.

So what does wicking mean?

A material that can wick, draws the moisture from your body through to the top layer of the material via 'capillary action' (remember your biology class?) The moisture spreads out on the top of the material and evaporates. This action allows your body to be cooler. It can be used for outdoor wear, sports wear and has recently been used in sleepwear. Benefits: It draws sweat from your body so that you cool down.

Draw backs: The sweat can stain the outer layer of your material and it retains the odour, so you stay smelly.

So what does breathable mean?

A breathable fabric has larger holes in the weave which create an air flow, enabling your body to breathe. It basically has larger holes than the wicking fabric and the thread is structured differently. This extra air flow cools you down.

Benefits: You stay cooler for longer. There is less of a smell because you sweat less.

Draw backs: The material can become saturated with sweat after a period of time and this wakes you up.

Now that we have established the parameters, let's consider a few materials that people would normally wear in bed.

Cotton and Linen: Are made from the cotton plant and the flax plant respectively. They can be produced organically or can incorporate a range of chemicals to turn the plants into cloth. They are both considered breathable fabrics so they do cool you but they have no wicking abilities. This means that any moisture gathered stays on the fabric and this makes the wearer uncomfortable. Most of our expensive bedding is made from cotton or linen. Sustainability: If grown organically, they are considered sustainable fabrics.

Polyester: Is made from synthetic polymer yarns, or can be made from a number of different chemicals. It was invented in the 1970's and became popular due to its low cost and high durability. It would be considered a wicking fabric. This means that it draws moisture away from the body, cooling you down: but then this sweat stays on the fabric. Most cheap nightwear is made from polyester. It is not considered a sustainable fabric.

Viscose/ Rayon: Now we have a mixture of a synthetic and natural fibre because the base material is tree cellulose but it is chemically treated to create fiber. This fibre has no breathability and little wicking abilities. It is used often in sportswear, leggings and nightwear. (So check your label.) It is normally cheap, not sustainable but is durable.

Polyamide: Is a synthetic textile made from petroleum based plastic polymers. It is considered a wicking fabric and it dries quickly. It is very cheap to make and is not at all sustainable, in fact it can cause environmental devastation. It has been in use since it's discovery in 1930.

Modal: (Tencel) Let's look at a bio-based fabric that comes from the Beech Tree. It is considered a breathable and sustainable fabric and it hangs beautifully on your body. It can absorb up to 50% more moisture than cotton: without you feeling sweaty. It takes less water to grow than cotton but it does require sodium hydroxide in the manufacturing process. It is durable.

Lyocell: (eucalyptus) Once again we have a material that is made from the Eucalyptus Tree. It is considered a breathable and sustainable fabric and it does not use sodium hydroxide in the manufacturing process. It has a silky appearance and is very durable. It is naturally cooling but can be expensive and is considered a luxury material.

Silk: Is considered a breathable fabric and has good wicking abilities but continually raises environmental concerns for a number of reasons. Did you know that the cocoon around the caterpillar is the material that is made into silk? To gather the silk, the caterpillar is boiled inside the cocoon. Don't fancy it? No, neither do I.

Bamboo: This plant has been used to make material for a number of years because it is naturally breathable and has excellent wicking abilities. It keeps you cool for longer and is super soft on the skin. It has natural anti-bacterial qualities and is great for sensitive skin because it is hypo-allergenic. A lovely semi-durable fabric.

So, what is our verdict?

If you are looking for a material that has wicking abilities, has breathability and is sustainable then Bamboo is definitely the fabric to think about. Eucalyptus is an excellent fabric too because it is also more durable than bamboo, but it can be expensive. What if you could mix the bamboo with the eucalyptus to gain a fabric that is:

  • Breathable

  • Has wicking abilities

  • Is sustainable

  • Is durable

  • Remains silky soft wash after wash

  • Is cheaper than silk

Has this been invented? Well, I am pleased to announce that it has and Kavu Clothing now make a small range of nightwear with a 49% bamboo and a 49% eucalyptus magic mix. The material has a weave with larger holes that allows your body to breathe and the natural wicking ability draws any sweat away from the skin. This new material is revolutionary and we hope will eventually be used for bedding and sleepwear.

In conclusion

Instead of having those sleepless nights, please go and have a read of the label on your sleepwear. Consider if it is a breathable or wicking fabric or if it will just add heat to the situation and make you hotter in bed than is necessary. It is well worth the effort. Thank you.

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