Essential Sleep

Steven King eat your heart out! I confess that I am not a fan of horror, but at the risk of a terrifying my readers I must refer to what I deem to be the most scary book on this planet.

Penguin Books published Matthew Walker’s tome Why We Sleep in 2017 and when I first read it, I really sat up and took note. 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 far beyond the usual things we are told about not getting a decent night’s sleep.

So 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. Walker 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 damage our cardiovascular systems, upset our metabolisms, affect our reproduction and compromise our immune systems – oh and by the way, it can also addle our brains. 

The book’s appendix 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. 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 that achieving the holy grail of enjoying the much needed quality and quantity of a good sleep.

In this regard, the solutions are very simple. In short, let wool wow you and don’t just look to your duvet. Make sure you go the full Monty, complementing 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.

Jessica Cross