By Karen Carruth

Looking out the window at the sleet that is bouncing off the ground today, I’m feeling rather sorry for our Texel sheep that are looking pretty drookit out there.

However, I know that if I popped my hand between their thick fleece, it is toasty warm in there, and they are snug as a bug, and that’s down to the wonder of wool.

I’ve been thinking about those properties lately as I was looking for an alternative duvet option and a wool duvet had been suggested. One of the main reasons, and I’m going to overshare here, is that I hear they are a blessing to those that suffer from night sweats.

Ladies of a certain age with be nodding along with me here (it’s all glamour getting older), but it’s not just us ladies that suffer, there’s plenty of men waking up in a puddle too.

I need expert advice and speak to Pauline Beijen, of Devon Duvets. She and her husband Dick have been making wool bedding for the past decade originally from their smallholding in Devon, and now in their specialist workshops where they employ 15 people.

What started as a small enterprise in a bid to use up the wool of their own flock has grown to the extent that they are processing 60,000 British fleeces each year.

She talks me through the benefits of sleeping under wool. “It has been proven scientifically that wool has been found to induce a longer and deeper, with people waking less frequently during the night.

The reason why wool can improve sleep in this way is its ability to support the body in maintaining an even sleeping temperature.

Natural wool fibres have the ability to carry excess heat away from the skin but also retain warmth when it is cold.  Our wool retains its natural properties as it has not been bleached or chemically treated.”

Wool duvets receive rave reviews from people who have allergies, as it is naturally hypoallergenic, antibacterial and dust mite free.

Dust mites and their droppings are an aggravator of the symptoms of allergies and asthma.  

If your symptoms flare up in the night, it can be difficult to sleep. You have to reduce your exposure to dust mites, and to do that, it is suggested trying wool bedding.

Dust mites do not like our natural wool. To survive, dust mites absorb water from their environment – however, high quality natural wool fibres that have not been bleached or chemically treated do not absorb moisture.

 I ask whether any specific fleeces are better than others for bedding. Pauline continues: “Yes, we use 100% Certified British wool that we source from the British Wool Marketing Board. We prefer to use Texel fleece as it has bouncy and springy properties and we have found that it makes the best duvets.”

It appears that the UK is a little behind the curve when it comes to wool bedding, around half of all Australians swear by sleeping under wool.  And a simple google search shows that NZ has many successful producers of wool bedding.

What’s available 

There is a readily available range of duvets, wool pillows, and mattress toppers that will ensure a good night’s sleep. No, it’s not itchy, as the wool is encased in high quality, breathable cotton. In the case of Pauline’s duvets, hers are hand finished using the highest quality fabrics.

Pauline continues: “It is important to us that our product is ethically sound. Our wool is shorn from live sheep each year in the centuries old tradition of British Farming and during the year the sheep grow wonderful new fleeces to enjoy in our luxurious natural duvets, pillows and mattress toppers made the next season.

“The standard of animal husbandry on British Farms is extremely high.  Animal welfare and sourcing of the wool is very important to us, for example we only accept spring and summer shearings when the sheep are happy to be rid of their heavy fleeces and we never accept winter shearing or by-products from the slaughterhouse.”

Uan Wool, a Scottish wool pillow and duvet producer, is owned by Julie Hermitage of Wester Coul Farm, at Lintrathen, Angus, she started producing her own wool bedding when her son was suffering from severe allergies. She says: “Wool really is the best material for bedding and interiors, there is so much research going on across the world, particularly in Australia to back this up.”

Reviews are overwhelmingly positive looking at online comments. What does interest me is the option of adjusting your pillow to suit your body. Uan Wool pillows comes with a zip on the cover, so you can remove some of the wool filling to attain your own personal level of softness/firmness ideal.  In all, Julie makes a range of four different wool pillow types, and can make bespoke ones for individuals when requested, she says they are particularly sought after from people with neck injuries. They come in a choice of cotton or merino covers to suit personal preference.

It’s not just wool pillows that Uan Wool specialise in, she makes wool hot water bottle covers, made from 100% British wool woven in Scotland, and each is embellished with their own rare breed wools in Angus. Julie adds: “Each different wool type provides a different texture and a great little work out for your toes, which could help leg circulation while keeping your toes warm.”

Julie also makes V-shaped pillows, and wool eye masks all helpful in getting that elusive good night’s sleep.

I’ve been sleeping under a wool duvet for just under a week now. First impressions, it is very lightweight. Much lighter than the down duvet we had, and quieter when you turn over during the night. I believe it is a summer duvet we have, rather than a warmer winter one.

The wool is not in little pockets like the down, it is somehow stretched evenly along the length of the duvet, making it a little flatter than I was expecting. It does do what it claims, it is warm and I haven’t woken during the night feeling so warm I have had to throw the duvet off, so that’s a plus. All in all, I’ve been having a rather decent night’s sleep.