Unlike more savvy colleagues who have long extolled the virtues of pure wool pillows and duvets, I am a recent convert. This is mainly because, when I married, I inherited some flat, lumpy, heavy wool duvets (not British) and assumed that was the nature of the beast.
I discovered my newfound zeal through a mattress. Along with the duvets came a squishy (non-wool) mattress, the sort that meant when my husband turned over I bounced – and when I got up in the morning, I ached.
Prompted by my chiropractor, I acquired a new, wonderfully comfy mattress from The Wool Room. I now sleep peacefully and wake rested without an ache in my body. I became such a fan that I recently visited Harrison Spinks, the Leeds-based factory that makes The Wool Room mattresses, to see the whole fascinating process.
The comfort derives from the use of layer upon layer of fluffy wool plus multiple springs, which work independently to adapt to the pressure of each body. But wool has many more benefits. It is intrinsically flameproof, so there is no need to use potentially toxic flame-retardant chemicals (FR s) in the mattress or its ‘smart’ cover of 33% merino wool and 67% viscose.
A 2014 government report says: ‘There is growing evidence that FR s, particularly BFR s [brominated FR s], can be harmful to health and the environment, especially when they break down into individual constituents, eg, by wear or through burning.’
Another benefit of wool is its moisture-management properties. We sweat about half a litre of moisture each night. Most synthetic materials trap it in the bedding. This provides a humid environment that is ideal for house dust mites and fungal spores – key promoters of allergies such as asthma and eczema and respiratory problems – to thrive. Research shows that wool wicks away the moisture and absorbs large amounts before the fibre even begins to feel damp. (Excess moisture is desorbed into the atmosphere during the day.)
Independent tests by national charity Allergy UK have shown that The Wool Room bedding, which has the foundation’s seal of approval, is 100 per cent effective at preventing mites from living and 99 per cent effective at preventing mould and fungal spores.
Unlike other forms of bedding, wool also helps to naturally regulate your temperature at night, a boon for hot sleepers of all ages. Many menopausal women know the misery of night sweats, and various medical conditions can trigger extreme sweating. The fibre gains and releases heat depending on the temperature of the room and your body. Because children often overheat at night, The Wool Room offers a new range of (machine washable) bedding for one-year-olds and above.
The Sleep Council recommends changing your mattress every seven to eight years, but The Wool Room says its mattresses should last 15 to 20 years.
• A new, wonderfully comfy double Deluxe 5000 mattress from The Wool Room costs from £1,399
For a quick energy boost, the YOU features desk nibble high-protein, gluten-free and filling Bounce Energy Balls (I often raid their stash). In nine yummy flavours – we particularly like Almond Protein Hit – they cost £1.99 each, from hollandandbarrett.com and major food retailers.
Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning or septicaemia, is the body’s reaction to an infection when it attacks its own organs and tissues. It is a serious condition that affects 150,000 people annually in the UK. Of those, 44,000 will die and a quarter of survivors will suffer permanent, life-changing after-effects. Despite its devastating impact, awareness of the condition in the general population and, sadly, among health professionals is very low, according to the UK Sepsis Trust (sepsistrust.org). This is partly because sepsis can initially look like flu, a chest infection or gastroenteritis. The Trust offers a leaflet on spotting sepsis in children and advises adults to seek medical help urgently if they develop any of the following:
Extreme shivering or muscle pain
Passing no urine in a day
‘I feel like I might die’
Skin mottled or discoloured