Penguin Books published Matthew Walker’s tome ‘Why We Sleep’ in 2017 and when I read it, it terrified me. Eat your heart out Stephen King! In answering the question why we sleep, Walker reveals the long term, irreversible physical and mental damage done to our bodies as a result of sleep deprivation which goes way, way beyond the usual things we are told about not getting a decent night’s sleep.

I vowed to re-read the book every three or four years as a refresher lest I lose sight of the scary consequences of insufficient or rubbish sleep. The opening paragraph of Chapter 8 is worth quoting. He says “I was once fond of saying, “sleep is the third pillar of good health, alongside diet and exercise.” I have changed my tune. Sleep is more than a pillar; it is the foundation on which the two other health bastions sit.” (pg 164)

Poor sleep can result in damage to our cardiovascular system, upset our metabolisms, affect our reproduction and compromise our immune systems – oh and by the way it can also addle our brains.

The book has an appendix which lists a dozen tips for healthy sleep. Much of this is common sense but I suggest that Walker omits an important 13th tip. He fails to acknowledge the importance of the quality of bedding in the creation of the optimal sleep environment.

Synthetic duvets are notorious for exacerbating ghastly night sweats, causing the sleeper to wake in a pool of uncomfortable clamminess. Easy-care polyester linen will do the same. Feathers and down duvets aggravate breathing difficulties causing the sleeper to wake with a stuffy, blocked nose, watery itchy eyes and perhaps a thick, dull headache. All these things are not conducive to achieving the holy grail of enjoying the much needed quality and quantity of a good sleep.

In this regard, the solutions are very simple. As far as linen is concerned, keep it 100% cotton – job done. In terms of bedding, let wool wow you and don’t just look to your duvet. Make sure you go the full Monty, complimenting your duvet with wool pillows and a mattress cover. Our Southdown Duvet customers who go from synthetic to wool say it’s literally an overnight revelation in increased comfort and undisturbed wonderful sleep that would make Matthew Walker stand up and bow.

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