What I have been thinking a lot about lately is sleeping, an activity that we devote 30% of our life to.
Sleeping (and snuggling in bed otherwise) should be all about ease and comfort. But I bet some of your love-hate relationship with your bed largely comes from the lack of such ease or comfort. Your cotton sheets pill and shed, and are hard to dry when you wash them and stiffen easily without chemical softener. Your microfiber sheets wrap you like plastic bags (yes, they are made from plastic - polyester and nylon) and suffocate every pore of yours during hot summer nights...
Do you remember what you feel and crave when you see a literally just-got-out-of-bed picture on Instagram with some lazy sunbeams on the easy-breezy and soft-looking bedding? "I want to snuggle in that," you say to yourself.
More likely than not, the bedding used on these envy-worthy and Instagram-perfect beds is pure linen.
Pure Love for Your Bed Starts with Pure Linen
Made from natural flax fibers, linen has been used by cultures all around the world for thousands of years. Because of its high absorbance and breathability, hypoallergenic and anti-microbial characteristics, and excellent durability, linen is ideal to be used on our skin, as clothing, bedding, napkins and handkerchiefs, (and even wound dressing).
When used in bed, linen can significantly enhance your wellbeing and sleep quality. Let me tell you how.
1. The automatic associations. Your brain feels immediate relaxation just from looking at things made with linen. This may be a result of long-formed association between linen and casual-style clothing: linen jacket for the summer, linen dress for a beach-side vacation... So by simply looking at the linen material, you mind immediately brings you to the lazy summer afternoon by the ocean (I think your mind is already there by now), preparing you for a relax nap or a sound sleep.
2. The thermoregulartory characteristics. Thermoregulation is a fancy word for "temperature control." It's our natural ability to keep our body temperature at a comfortable range: we shiver in cold weather to increase body heat and sweat in hot weather to cold down.
When we sleep, ambient temperature change is one of the biggest external factors that affect how well we rest. This is because if we are uncomfortable when we sleep, we will wake up more frequently and this impacts our progress through the sleep cycle. If we don't have enough complete sleep cycles then our mind and body won't be recharged as much as they should be and we will feel tired in the morning.
Natural linen is like a fabric skin that acts just like our own skin to help us regulate the ambient temperature during our sleep. When its cold, the linen fibers contract to reduce the inter-fiber space between them, trapping the air and allowing your body to warm it up and insulate you as you sleep. When its hot, the inter-fiber space expands and warm air is able to escape and cool you down. Linen has five times the heat conductivity of wool. Hence, it helps you maintain body temperature five times as much as cotton and nineteen times as that of silk. Even when you sweat, the naturally moisture-wicking linen fabric absorbs and drys sweat rapidly, keeping you feel dry and cool.
The result of these special abilities of linen is that you are able to sleep in an optimal temperature all-year-round.
3. The clean fabric. Linen fabric has antimicrobial quality. This means it suppresses all microbes including bacteria, fungi, dust mites, and pollen. Given that bacteria, fungi, dust mites, and pollen are common allergens, the antimicrobial quality makes linen fabric hypoallergenic as well. How clean is linen? Linen is the only natural material utilized for internal sutures in a surgical setting. Research also shows that linen helps prevent many allergic disorders, reduce the risk of inflammatory conditions, and aid effective respiration as well.
Linen also protects us from radiation. Research shows that linen reduces solar gamma radiation by half. Even flax fibers harvested from radio-contaminated soil do not exhibit traces of radiation.
4. The pleasant touch. The natural flax fibers woven into the linen fabric have microscopic "breaks" throughout, which create a pleasant textured touch on the skin. Unlike cotton and wool, linen gets softer and shinier with each wash.
The stone-washing technique takes advantage of the unique wash-enhancement feature of linen and accelerate this process, leaving the look of the linen fabric more natural and the touch softer. Natural stones, such as pumice or volcanic rock, are added to the pre-wash process to wear away any edges of the natural fibers. Stone washed linen fabric looks more easy-going, and feels softer and more flexible than newly produced linen fabric that is not washed. Therefore, your stone-washed linen bed sheets are ready to hug your body right out of the box.
5. The durability and easiness of care. Now, let's talk about some practical stuff. Linen retains its shape thanks to the natural elasticity of the flax fibers, and compared to wool and cotton, linen is twice as durable. Unlike cotton and wool that tears apart and wears away through use and wash, linen stays strong and "matures" gracefully.
Washing and drying bed linen, especially stone-washed bed linen, is very easy. You can machine wash (in cold or warm) and tumble dry (low) these sheets without a fuss. Because of the low thread-count of the fabric and hollowness of the flax fiber, linen is very light to wash and very easy to dry -- big saving on water, detergent, electricity bills, and time! If you prefer to air dry your bed sheets, linen is also your best bet on saving time air drying, just remember to avoid direct sunlight on colored linen.
No ironing is needed on linen sheets. The natural creases and crumples only add to the beauty and comfort of this unique fabric. So you can sleep in your newly washed warm linen right out of the dryer!
At the end, I wish you a sound sleep deeply surrounded in linen.
With all my love,