Our expert guide to the ‘super’ bedding for your ailments
Will copper sheets ease the pain of freezing toes? And can a special pillow reduce heartburn? Our expert guide to the ‘super’ bedding for your ailments
The average person spends more than 9,000 days of their life asleep — which equates to roughly 25 years.
Now, there are many bedding products designed to boost your health as well as your sleep, from pillows to ease a bad back to sheets that warm hands and feet.
But what works and what doesn’t? Here, we asked the experts to assess a selection and then we rated them…
Sleeping beauties: Various products are now on the market to enhance our health as we sleep
BAMBOO BEDDING FOR CANCER PATIENTS
Bamboo Bedding Set, £79.99, livebetterwith.com
Made from 95 per cent bamboo fibre and 5 per cent Lycra, this duvet and pillow cover set is aimed at patients undergoing chemotherapy who suffer from night sweats.
Its manufacturer says bamboo absorbs 41 per cent more moisture than cotton and contains a natural antibacterial, ‘bamboo kun’, which can help protect those with weakened immune systems.
expert VERDICT: ‘Bamboo material is breathable and highly absorbent, so it can wick away moisture from the skin,’ says Dr Anton Alexandroff, a consultant dermatologist at BMI The Manor Hospital in Bedford.
‘It lends itself as a material for clothing and bedding, especially for people who sweat a lot, including patients who may experience sweating as a side-effect of cancer treatments.’ 5/5
HEAVY BLANKETS FOR ANXIETY
Gravity Anxiety Blanket, £149, gravityblankets.co.uk
Comfort blanket: These weighted blankets are sold as a way to help with everything from anxiety and autism to stress and insomnia
These weighted blankets are sold as a way to help with everything from anxiety and autism to stress and insomnia.
They are made from cotton, with dozens of tiny ‘panels’ stitched into them — each panel is filled with glass beads that can make the total weight about 30 lb (normal bed blankets weigh only a few pounds).
The theory is that this weight creates a feeling of security and aids relaxation. A 2008 study in the Journal of Occupational Health involving 63 people with anxiety found two-thirds were less anxious than normal if they used a 30 lb blanket. A 2015 study found sleep quality improved when insomniacs used weighted blankets.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Some patients say these blankets help reduce their anxiety and improve sleep,’ says Dr Olga Runcie, a consultant psychiatrist at BMI Albyn Hospital in Aberdeen.
‘However, the studies conducted into them so far have only been small.’ 3/5
BODY-LENGTH PILLOW FOR BACK PAIN
Kally Pillow, £49.99, kallysleep.com
According to the maker, this pillow keeps the neck and spine aligned during sleep and ‘reduces pressure on the lower back’, allowing those with persistent back pain to achieve ‘a better night’s sleep’.
The idea is that you sleep on your side, your head resting on the top end of the pillow, with one arm and leg draped over it, so that it slots between the knees. The manufacturer says that this creates a feeling of ‘weightlessness’ and eases pressure on muscles and spinal joints. It is also said to help support the body in pregnancy.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘The maker claims this “keeps your spine correctly aligned” during sleep, but there is no evidence this is beneficial for back pain,’ says Ashley James, a physiotherapist and spokesman for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. ‘It is too simplistic to suggest using a cushion at night can get rid of back pain.
‘It may help a pregnant woman get into a more comfortable position, but I don’t see why or how it would be superior to using pillows they already have.’ 2/5
BED TILTER FOR HEARTBURN
Memory Foam Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow, £66.54, cosyco.co.uk
Clever? This wedge-shaped cushion is placed under a pillow, propping the torso at 15 degrees, to stop acid pushing out of the stomach
Around seven million people in the UK have severe heartburn, or acid reflux. Normally, a muscle that works as a one-way valve at the base of the oesophagus lets food into the stomach, but stops stomach acid escaping.
If this doesn’t work properly, acid leaks up the oesophagus, causing heartburn. It’s often worse at night because of the effects of gravity.
This wedge-shaped cushion is placed under a pillow, propping the torso at 15 degrees, to stop acid pushing out of the stomach.
EXPERT VERDICT: Cushions such as these are a highly effective way to prevent heartburn symptoms at night and even reduce the need for medication such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) — drugs that reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces, says Dr Rehan Haidry, a consultant gastroenterologist at University College Hospital London. (Long-term PPI use has been linked to increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and stomach cancer: it’s thought PPIs stimulate release of a hormone called gastrin, known to play a part in triggering the growth of cancerous cells in the stomach.)
‘A cheaper option might be to put old books under the legs at the head of the bed,’ adds Dr Haidry. 4/5
COPPER SHEETS FOR COLD HANDS AND FEET
Warming Copper Bed Sheets, from £97.99 for a single, raynaudsdisease.com
Hot stuff: Copper has powerful heat-retaining properties, so the tiny strands woven into this bedding warm rapidly in response to body heat, claims the maker
Up to ten million in the UK have Raynaud’s disease, where small blood vessels in the hands, feet, fingers and toes are over-sensitive to cold or the slightest temperature change.
Even in hot weather, they can have painfully cold extremities.
Copper has powerful heat-retaining properties, so the tiny strands woven into this bedding warm rapidly in response to body heat, claims the maker.
EXPERT VERDICT: Copper does retain body heat, says Dr Francesco Del Galdo, an associate professor of rheumatology at the University of Leeds.
‘The problem is that the extremities of people with Raynaud’s are often cold to begin with, so there is little heat to preserve.’
He says that feet warmers — self-adhesive heat pads — or electronic feet warmers (like a fur-lined boot you slip feet into, costing about £30) could be cheaper and, in some cases, more effective. 2/5
SILKY BEDDING FOR SORE SKIN
DermaTherapy double duvet cover, £129.95, esperehealth.co.uk
HALF polyester and half nylon, this is woven to feel like silk, so it is less likely to irritate those with eczema or dermatitis, says the maker. Gaps between the tiny fibres let heat escape, so you stay cool, which can reduce feelings of itchiness.
In the U.S., the bedding range, which includes duvet covers and pillowcases, is classed as a medical device by the Food and Drug Administration, the only bedding of its type to have this authorisation.
A 2008 study published in the journal Pediatric Dermatology found the bedding significantly reduced soreness and itching in patients with dermatitis.
expert VERDICT: ‘This bedding does resemble silk in texture and is useful for patients with skin conditions that can be aggravated by rubbing on bedding, as well as the heat generated in bed,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Anton Alexandroff. 4/5
COATED DUVET FOR EMBARRASSING LEAKS
Economy Waterproof Double Duvet, £31.14, completecareshop.co.uk
Dry touch: This is a waterproof double duvet for those who suffer from urinary incontinence
This is a waterproof double duvet for those who suffer from urinary incontinence.
It has a coating of polypropylene, a synthetic resin that is fluid-proof and fire-resistant, meaning the duvet stays dry and only the cover needs washing after night-time accidents.
The maker advises using it with a waterproof fitted sheet (£13.14) coated with the same material.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘This sounds quite good for the duvet, but not the patient, who’ll still end up soaked in urine,’ says Jeremy Ockrim, a urological surgeon at University College Hospital London.
‘Their sleep is likely to be disturbed and they are still likely to have to change bedclothes in the night.
‘A better option might be to wear disposable incontinence pads that absorb moisture, so that the patient is less likely to have broken sleep.’ 1/5
COOLING GEL FOR MENOPAUSAL WOMEN
JML Chillmax, £9.99, Argos
Night sweats are common in menopausal women, triggered by changes in the levels of hormones that control body temperature.
This gel-filled plastic pillow works for up to three hours — at just under a foot long and around 6in wide, it sits under your head or in the pillowcase. The maker says it does not need prior refrigeration.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Many menopausal women benefit from this sort of device,’ says Ian Currie, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and BMI The Chiltern Hospital, both in Buckinghamshire.
In the long term, he adds, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the best way to reduce night sweats. 4/5
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