How to get a perfect night’s sleep

How to get a perfect night’s sleep
How to get a perfect night’s sleep
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Natural fiber bedding, suitable mattress, soft colors… there are several elements that influence the quality of sleep

Article information
  • author, Dominic Lutyens
  • Roll, BBC Culture
  • 2 hours ago

For more than a decade, we have seen increasing interest in the health benefits of sleep.

It is believed that lack of sleep harms not only people’s well-being, but economic productivity itself. And the knowledge and research of sleep medicine experts around the world can help reduce these problems.

And there is also increasing evidence that even bedding impacts the quality of sleep.

In recent years, new varieties of bedding have emerged in the UK. People are making careful choices to buy everything from sheets to mattresses.

Many of us were used to basic mattresses and bedding. But now there are countless variations, designed to blend ingeniously with any bedroom style.

Aesthetics aside, consumers are increasingly investing in mattresses, bedding, blankets and pillows, carefully combined to optimize sleep.

“In the UK, we’re obsessed with sleep,” says Mark Tremlett, one of the founders of the company Naturalmat. Based in Devon, southwest England, the company produces organic and sustainable beds and mattresses.

“The growing interest in well-being, which was once associated mainly with physical exercise, but now also with sleep, is generating more interest in sleeping well,” he explains.

“Covid-19 made people more aware of their health, including their sleep. During the pandemic, they became more aware of the mattress market, due to the numerous e-commerce brands that sold beds and mattresses packaged and delivered to homes .”

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There is an increasing demand for beds and mattresses made from organic and sustainable materials

Many people have endorsed this convenient way to shop, but Tremlett believes trying a new mattress in person is key.

“Each of us is different,” he told the BBC. “People need to find the right mattress combination that provides comfort and proper alignment while keeping their spine straight. This is key to a good night’s sleep.”

“The only science related to correct mattress tension is the person’s weight,” Tremlett continues. “Heavier people need to lean on a firmer mattress. If, when you’re sleeping, your body forms a hole in the mattress and your spine isn’t straight, that’s not good.”

Sleep medicine consultant Allie Hare of Royal Brompton Hospital in London says “there is evidence that suitable mattresses and pillows improve sleep quality, especially for individuals with chronic pain or neck pain.”

Judging by the latest sales statistics, this expansion in the supply of mattresses and bedding is a global phenomenon. A report published in 2023 by the company Globe Newswire, which offers the distribution of press releases and corporate financial reports, detailed the growth of the sector.

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Soft-colored bedding can help create a peaceful sleeping environment

The brands that are driving this sector forward are those that produce bedding only with organic or sustainable materials. Tremlett states that this growth began at the beginning of the century, when society in general began to take the idea of ​​sustainability seriously.

Tremlett decided to found Naturalmat when he noticed that mattresses on more expensive boats were made from cheap polyurethane foam sheets that offered no support. The company originally specialized in mattresses for yachts, until it entered the domestic market.

Tremlett points out that synthetic fiber mattresses appear to inhibit good sleep quality, but they sell well because they are cheaper than higher quality mattresses made from naturally occurring materials.

Mattresses and bedding made of synthetic material were preferred until the 1980s.

In the UK, it was Habitat furniture stores, founded by Terence Conran (1931-2020), that introduced duvets – or “continental quilts” as they called them – in the 1960s. With synthetic fillings, they were a less labor-intensive alternative for traditional sheets and blankets.

The store’s 1983-84 catalog stated that “new synthetic fillings can capture the lightness and warmth of traditional comforters and are still inexpensive, non-allergenic and completely washable.”

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Creating a unique look with bedding can help personalize the space

“About 95% [das pessoas] in the UK currently sleep on synthetic mattresses,” says Tremlett. “But there is now a greater supply of materials made from relatively affordable natural fibres, manufactured by companies that take into account the importance of sleep quality.”

Fortunately for bedding and mattress brands embracing sustainability, natural fibers and bedding are good companions.

It’s a well-known fact that the two main obstacles to good sleep are heat and humidity. And the natural fibers in bedding help keep these two factors away from the body.

“Each individual produces up to half a liter of sweat per night,” according to Tremlett. “The natural fibers keep this moisture away from our body while we sleep.”

They are also beneficial because they are breathable. And the most important thing is that our body needs to maintain a stable body temperature throughout the night, which is essential for sleeping well.

This phenomenon is known as thermoregulation. And bedding made from natural materials helps promote thermoregulation.

“Studies conducted on the physical and psychological effects of bedding and pajamas have concluded that sleep patterns in which people are exposed to heat rather than cold are more susceptible to disruption,” says Hare. “Natural fibers, such as linen, cotton and bamboo, favor thermoregulation more than artificial fibers.”

“If mattresses are made from materials like memory foam or polyester, they trap moisture,” explains Tremlett.

And, according to Hare, a good bedroom temperature, to promote sleep, should be between 16 and 19 °C – so a fan may be needed to reach these temperatures, especially in summer.

Comfort zone

Jessica Hanley founded British bedding brand Piglet in Bed in 2017. For her, bedding made from natural fibers helps maintain good sleep patterns all year round.

“Natural wool mattresses, mattress protectors, duvets, and pillows, as well as all-natural linen bedding, regulate your body temperature while you sleep, regardless of the season,” she explains.

The company has a branch in Illinois and a growing customer base in the United States. It produces bedding made primarily from sustainable linen.

Since thermoregulation is essential to sleeping well, are heat-generating weighted blankets, electric blankets, and hot water bottles advisable? The consensus is that they are comfortable but impede thermoregulation.

“Studies of weighted blankets have concluded that they can reduce anxiety, but they don’t help with sleep,” according to Allie Hare.

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In Scandinavia, the custom among couples is for each person to have their own individual duvet.

Bedding made from natural materials is also advisable for another reason.

“Natural fibers in bedding are also beneficial because studies indicate that thermoregulation is lost during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the deep sleep state that provides our best rest,” says Mark Tremlett.

Bigger beds also improve sleep quality. This partially explains why they grew in size over time. “This was partly because people got bigger,” explains Tremlett.

“The beds you see in old mansions are quite small. A standard double bed from our grandparents’ generation in the 1920s and 1930s was 1m37 by 1m90 and it has grown in size since then.”

“Nowadays, a king size bed measures 1m50 by 2 meters,” he continues. “We now have emperor beds, which measure 2 by 2 meters, giving couples sleeping together plenty of individual space, which allows them to sleep better.”

Bed size also varies by country, according to Tremlett. “The tallest people in Europe are the Dutch,” according to him. “There, the average bed length is 2m10.”

Except for these cases, he believes that cultural differences can be arbitrary. “Our mattresses are sold in Barcelona [na Espanha] and, there, the toughest are popular. In the United States, there is demand for more compressed mattresses.”

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The shikibuton is a traditional Japanese bed that is still popular today, illustrated above in an image from 1880

In China, there is a tradition of kang beds, which incorporate a platform with a hollow space lined with bricks, where hot coals are placed to heat the bed. India has charpai beds, wooden structures covered with a surface of ropes, where people sleep without bedding to facilitate ventilation.

Hammocks are particularly popular in several parts of Latin America. Made from sisal, they help protect people against insect bites and animal bites.

And there is a Scandinavian custom of using individual duvets by couples that is spreading to the UK.

“We have seen an increase in demand for two single duvets, so that a couple can each have their own, like the Scandinavians do,” says Jessica Hanley. “This means you can also have duvets with different weights depending on personal preferences.”

“We tried this at home when I was pregnant and it was really hot at night,” she says. “We avoid a lot of arguments.”

The growth of the bedding sector in the West, driven by the desire for greater aesthetic choices, also raises the question of the possible influence of colors and patterns on sleep quality.

“With the rise of social media and people sharing home images online, our homes have become extensions of our personal style,” according to Hanley. “We’ve noticed over the past few years customers mixing and matching bedding to create unique looks.”

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Natasha Hulse creates soft headboards, carefully embroidered with motifs inspired by nature.

“I believe that expressing individual preferences that feel real to you is the most memorable way to create a bedroom that you feel happy to retire to at night,” explains Hanley.

Other people find that soothing colors can improve sleep quality. “It’s generally a good idea to maintain a calm environment in the bedroom, which can influence your choice of colors and patterns,” according to Hare.

Sumptuously padded headboards, which make a strong design statement by increasing comfort, are increasingly popular.

“I use fabrics I find in the room when creating my headboards, to achieve a harmonious balance,” says Natasha Hulse. She creates headboards carefully embroidered with motifs inspired by nature. “This creates softness, which is vital for us to relax.”

“We live in an overstimulated world and the need to feel drawn to our bedroom to recharge has never been greater,” concludes Hulse.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: perfect nights sleep

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