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Performance Materials Move From the Gym to the Bedroom

Combine the fabric technology that allows for temperature control in athletic endeavors with the basic human need to get a good night’s sleep, and the outcome is the field of “performance bedding.”

Products and materials in the category are generally made of breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics that, like sports gear and apparel, are meant to keep people cool and dry—except while they’re asleep.

Many companies and stores have invested in the product that goes beyond the cool cotton sheets that were the staple of comfort for so many years.

The Sleep Trend

Sharon Graubard, founder and creative director at trend forecasting firm MintModa, said the field of performance bedding is part of the overall movement toward wellness and comfort in consumer products.

Graubard noted that the product innovation trend in the sleep market parallels what’s been going on in the apparel world in fabric development with value-added and performance characteristics, notably in activewear and outerwear.

“There’s a lot of attention being paid to sleep as it pertains to wellness,” Graubard said. “As soon as performance fabrics started to come out as technology developed, the industry started catching up with how to use them.”

Cool Mattresses

For instance, Tuft & Needle, an e-commerce and manufacturing company based in Phoenix, markets a proprietary foam mattress that works in three ways to draw heat from the body and disperse it out of the mattress.

This includes heat wicking, in which heat is drawn into the mattress where gel and graphite work together to disperse heat outward and away from the body. With the help of the fabric, air flows through the foam cells to boost the speed of heat transfer through the mattress, then a support layer helps hold people closer to the surface to avoid the oven effect caused by sinking in too deeply.

MintModa’s Graubard said, “There’s a new generation buying mattresses looking for new materials,” adding that foam mattresses became popular but they could be too warm. “So mattress companies started investing in and incorporating these additive properties.”

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These include aspects such as antimicrobial and wicking, as well as cooling materials.

[READ MORE ABOUT HOME GOODS INNOVATION: Home Goods Roundup: CertainT for Two, Hollander Heavier With Feather, Clean Cert for Tuft & Needle]

At Bed Bath & Beyond, performance bedding is addressed through its “Build a Better Bed: Ultimate Cooling” offering.

This includes a PureCare Cooling Pillow Protector that features rapid chill cooling fibers that create a cooler sleep environment, the Therapedic TruCool Mattress Pad made from soft and thermal-controlled mineral nanotechnology, and gel-infused accessories designed to increase airflow.

Bedgear’s performance mattresses “delivers weightless support that reduces heat for cooler comfort” and its lightweight sheets wick away heat and moisture to maintain ideal body temperature.

“We have mastered advanced textile fabrication techniques to engineer top-of-the-line sleep essentials that deliver the clean, cool, fresh environment your body needs to regenerate and recover while you sleep,” Bedgear’s marketing materials states. “Creating differentiated products built on our patent-pending sales process to fit your sleep position and body frame, Bedgear is redefining the way people look at sleep.”

Pillows & Sheets

Performance bedding also extends into pillows and sheets, and beyond.

Utah-based bedding accessories maker Malouf recently launched what it calls Z Shoulder Cutout pillows in several new “Zoned Dough” options, including Chamomile, Lavender and Peppermint aromatherapy pillows that come with real essential oil spritzers. Based on the success of these pillows, which are specially-designed for side sleepers, the company will also debut Zoned Dough Bamboo Charcoal and Zoned Gel Dough options.

“We released our first Shoulder Cutout pillow a year ago as a personalized solution to side sleepers and we’ve seen them grow in popularity since,” Mike Douglas, vice president of sales at Malouf said. “It was a natural progression to pair that design with some of our best Zoned Dough pillow experiences – our scent-infused pillows, our odor-neutralizing bamboo charcoal, and our temperature-regulating Gel Dough. Finding a pillow with the right feel, fit, and temperature is key to getting restorative sleep.”

Malouf also recently introduced the CarbonCool Omniphase pillow. Combining the temperature regulation properties of graphite with Omniphase technology—a proprietary application of phase change material—the pillow is a combination of materials that effectively stays cool all night long.

The pillow is also infused with conductive graphite particles that inherently move heat away from the head, face and neck. The CarbonCool is covered in a Tencel mesh cover that quickly absorbs and releases moisture for a soft, breathable feel. The pillow is also CertiPUR-US certified and made in the U.S, ensuring a high-quality pillow that will last.

“The CarbonCool pillow is the result of extensive research and development, so we couldn’t be more happy with the positive feedback we immediately received,” Sam Malouf, chief executive officer, said. “The buzz surrounding it verifies the industry is anxious to find better solutions for cooling and temperature regulation in sleep products.”

Sheex’s Sleep Fit Technology offers soft fabrics, enhanced breathability and advanced thermoregulation to keep people from waking up hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. Sheex says it fabrics transfer body heat up to two times more effectively than traditional cotton allowing the body to cool itself, yielding to a better, deeper, and more restorative sleep.

Sheex claims its fabrics breathe nearly 50 percent better than traditional cotton to reduce sleep-disrupting temperature fluctuations at night. Sheex sheets incorporate advanced heat and moisture transfer through evaporative cooling, have been tested at Diversified Testing Laboratories and are resistant to pilling.

Graubard noted that wellness products from the beauty industry such as calming mists and waterless humidifiers, are also part of the renewed awareness of sleep as important to overall health and well-being.

“Consumers are also looking for added value and something that functions,” she added.