We all have our own personal preferences when it comes to sleep. Some of us prefer a cold bedroom, and others a warm room. Some (like Hubby) kick the covers off at night and others (like me) like to roll up in the duvet like a Chinese spring roll! For that reason, I have long preferred down/feather bedding. I love its weight, its loft, and the way it settles around me to seal me in.
Some years ago, we invested in top-quality feather pillows and three duvets to cover all seasons. Each duvet was stuffed with Siberian goose down, pocket-sewn to prevent the feathers drifting within, and the shell had a high thread count to stop feathers from escaping. And for years, I was very happy snuggling up in my down-filled duvets.
A downside of down/feather duvets is that they are high maintenance: they must be laundered frequently to avoid build up of dust and dust mites, and then dried very quickly to avoid mould growing in the clumps of sodden feathers. I regularly had our duvets and pillows professionally laundered – a price I was willing to pay for the cosiness they offered.
However, down/feather duvets have other disadvantages. For starters, despite the assurances of the manufacturer, feathers did occasionally escape from our duvets and they also seemed to migrate within the shell – or at least by some means, the top of the duvet became extremely thin compared to the bottom. Of greater concern was the fact that our bedroom was always the dustiest room in the house; something we attributed to the feather bedding. And then I started to notice an irritating cough that would develop shortly after I went to bed each night. I have a known allergy to dust and, despite my diligence with getting the bedding laundered, my symptoms persisted.
Then one morning, as I bent down to unplug my hair straightener, I noticed a layer of dust on the floor.
Looking at that, how long do you suppose it had been since I had last vacuumed the floor? A week? A month? Longer? In fact, it was just four days. FOUR DAYS! I already knew that our down bedding was making the room dusty, but having some measurement of the dust was a real wake-up call. There is no way that sleeping in a room with that much dust was healthy. The feathers had to go!
The Switch to Wool
A few months ago, I met the Gibney’s of Baavet Ireland at a home expo show. They spoke very knowledgeably about their products, but it was handling the samples they had available that convinced me of the quality of their bedding. Given that we had already invested quite a bit in our bedding, changing it all again was a big commitment, but I was persuaded.
There are several reasons I chose wool, and Baavet in particular:
- Wool is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and resistant to dust mites.
- Wool is breathable. It wicks away moisture so you won’t feel clammy in bed (a common problem with memory foam mattresses that is exacerbated with down/feather and synthetic bedding).
- Down, feather, and polyester are insulators, but wool is temperature-regulating. This is actually a fairly fascinating property of wool. When viewed under a microscope, wool fibres have scales. These scales open and close to regulate the sheep’s temperature, keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter. The fibres retain this property even after being removed from the sheep, reacting to the body’s temperature. Tog ratings therefore do not apply to wool bedding, although approximations are given for comparison.
- No harmful chemicals or bleach are used in processing the wool for Baavet. This has obvious environmental and health benefits, but it also protects its temperature-regulating properties of the wool. To prevent wool from shrinking when machine-washed, the scales on the fibres need to be chemically stripped. However, this treatment turns the wool into an insulator and the wool loses its ability to regulate temperature. Because Baavet refrain from using this process, the temperature-regulating properties of the wool are preserved.
- Wool is naturally self-cleaning. I know, I know – this sounds strange and takes a bit of getting used to. We are so used to throwing everything into the washing machine these days that any other approach seems suspicious to us. But because of the way the scales in wool behave, no moisture is retained in the fibres. This creates an environment in which fungus, mould, or bacteria cannot grow. So all that is required to clean wool is to take it outdoors on a dry day and beat or shake it to allow any particles to fall out. I’m actually excited about the prospect of buying one of those old-fashioned wicker rug-beaters for this purpose! If necessary, Baavet duvets can be handwashed or dry cleaned, but it is preferable to just air them out.
- Wool is more environmentally friendly and sustainable than synthetic fibres, and better for animal welfarethan down/feather.
- The shell used in Baavet products is 100% cotton with a 250 thread count to render it fibre-proof. It is also heat-treated to make it dust mite proof to a higher standard than that required by the Asthma Society.
- Baavet supports Irish farmers by providing a market for their wool. (Currently the Irish wool is sent to Britain for processing as there is no facility in Ireland for manufacturing wool quilts.)
- Baavet comes with a one-month customer satisfaction guarantee.
We decided to get the entire kit: a medium-weight duvet, pillows, and mattress topper. A nice touch is that the duvet and mattress topper were packed with little sachets of lavender, which promotes sleep.
The packaging also included a sample to show the contents of the duvet and mattress topper.
The pillows are actually a zipped bag containing balls of wool. It can be opened periodically to fluff up the pillow.
Getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important to me as I don’t function well without it. Therefore I can honestly say that our Baavet bedding is one of the best investments we have made in ourselves as my sleep has improved so much since getting it.
Firstly, I notice that when I climb into bed, the sheets don’t feel cold like they used to before. And I warm up quicker in the bed than I used to.
While I love our Tempurpedic memory foam mattress and wouldn’t trade it for the world, its one disadvantage is the clamminess that I mentioned above. However, since adding the Baavet mattress topper, I’m surprised to find that this has not been an issue at all. In theory, the wool should reduce the effectiveness of the memory foam, which responds to heat as well as pressure. But in practice, I don’t notice any appreciable difference in the comfort of our mattress.
As I mentioned at the outset, I tend to hog the duvet while Hubby throws it off. Usually this works out well for both of us … except on those nights (about half the time) when Hubby does feel a bit chilly and want to get under the covers. Then the tug-of-war starts! However, since getting the Baavet wool duvet, we both sleep under the covers. That we both feel inclined to do so is a miracle! But I just don’t feel the need to roll up in it as much – and that leaves some free for Hubby, who doesn’t seem to throw it off any more. I guess it shouldn’t come as such a surprise given that one of the selling points of wool is that it has the ability to regulate the temperature of both warm and cool people at the same time.
And the dust in the room? That has been reduced dramatically to the point where it is almost unnoticeable. To test it out, I took a photo of the exact same part of the bedroom floor four days after vacuuming. Let’s compare …
Four days after vacuuming with down bedding
Four days after vacuuming with wool bedding
I think that speaks for itself.
In terms of maintenance, all that is required on a daily basis is to air the bed each morning. I simply fold back the covers to the foot of the bed in the morning and then, sometime in the afternoon or evening, I make the bed up properly as I don’t like getting into a messy bed at night.
I feel at this point that I should also clarify that this post is in no way sponsored by Baavet. They don’t even know I’m writing it. I’m just a genuinely satisfied customer who wants to share my good news!