Climate change under the duvet

Most people spend about a third of their lives asleep and they could soon be joined by technical textiles and all they have to offer, as shown by a constellation that, at first glance, appears to be a little curious: the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie – BMWi) as funding agency, two research institutes and four industrial companies – and a duvet. Within the framework of an interdisciplinary project, the participants from research and practice are currently developing a high-tech duvet distinguished by a high slumber factor.

Studies show that only about a fifth of the moisture and warmth produced by the body during sleep is absorbed by the mattress. The rest – a good 80 percent – is regulated by the duvet. Given that people do not like to sweat, at least when they go to bed with the intention of sleeping, the duvet must provide for undisturbed rest by ensuring a warm and, in particular, dry climate and a balanced exchanged of warmth and moisture. What sounds simple can become the subject of a research project when duvets filled with natural materials, such as feathers, down and wool, or even synthetic material blends reach their limits in terms of climate regulation.

In this connection, experts are likely to speak of ‘thermo-regulatory processes’ and to test ‘thermo-physiological’ and ‘textile-physical’ characteristics. To study their special climate duvets, the project partners turned to two textile research institutes, the Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e. V. and the Hohenstein Institut für Textilinnovation, as well as Prof. Jürgen Zulley, a sleep expert who has already conducted studies on the subject in cooperation with one of the companies involved in the project, Gebr. Sanders GmbH. Often called the ‘Sleep Pope’, Prof Zulley has made a name for himself over recent years with his work on the direct links between bed climate and the depth of sleep. Generally speaking, people need a dry bed climate rather than tropical humidity for a good night’s rest.

To achieve optimum conditions, the new duvet is fitted with small islands of net-like, voluminous spacer fabrics that, to date, have mostly been used for the base upholstery of mattresses and armchairs, as well as in automobiles. However, thanks to their positive climate regulatory qualities, they are obviously also suitable for use in duvets or pillows. In this project, the special textiles ensure better moisture permeability and transport. In turn, this results in a dry climate under the duvet and, therefore, unbroken sleep without any waking phases caused by too much moisture.

We do not know whether Sleep Pope Prof Zulley will also canonise the innovative duvet …

Image above: German textile research: sailing hard on an innovative wind (Source: Gebr. Sanders GmbH)

Ronny Eckert

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