The Best Fabrics for a Good Night's Sleep

Why sleeping in natural fabrics matters

The Sleep Shirt was founded when Alexandra Isenberg decided she was sick of sleeping in silky nighties, traditional pyjamas, or her husband’s old t-shirts. After designing the first nightshirt and discovering for herself how comfortable it felt after a good few washes and wears, she realised how much of a difference natural fibres make. Here’s why.

Synthetic materials such as polyester or rayon simply don’t breathe. Why is this important? Because it means that they don’t help regulate your body temperature – which is why you might find yourself waking up in a pool of sweat or shivering uncontrollably, no matter what the temperature’s like outside.

On the contrary, The Sleep Shirt uses only natural materials – fabrics such as linen, cotton, cashmere, or sometimes a blend of these. These fabrics may be treated differently for a different feel (washed linen, for instance, has a weightier feel than traditional linen, and of course, cotton can be woven into warmer flannel or a fresh, crisp poplin), but they’ll all breathe while you sleep.

Here at The Sleep Shirt, when our sleepwear reaches the end of its life cycle, we want our products to biodegrade naturally. We are concerned about the environmental impact of synthetic fabrics, especially as many release microparticles when washed in domestic washing machines. This is another reason why we use only cotton, linen, or cashmere in our products.

Primarily sourced from Japan, Italy, Portugal, and China, our fabric selection is high quality, durable, and stylish. Our cottons range from lightweight voiles to classic shirtings with dobby, twill, or Oxford weaves. During the warmer months we offer linens, which are known for their moisture-wicking properties and breathability; delicate, semi sheer voiles woven in Italy; lightweight polished shirtings; and breathable patterned cottons and blends. In fall and winter, our cotton selection features flannels, brushed cottons, and midweight materials suitable for colder environments.

We know that fashion is not a sustainable industry, and that the ultimate way to live more sustainably would be to curb our consumerism overall, but the next best option is to choose products that really last.

As we enter our ninth year, we know and are confident that our products are truly durable: when you buy one of our nightshirts, you’re buying it for long-term wear rather than as something you should expect to replace in a few months or a year. In fact, many of our customers and friends have seen their nightshirts last over 700 wears.

The majority of fabrics used by The Sleep Shirt are Oeko-Tex certified and/or BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) certified – fabrics that are made to last but will biodegrade at the end of their life cycle. Oeko-Tex is the industry standard for consumer communication when it comes to potentially harmful chemicals on clothing and textile-based goods, while the Better Cotton Initiative is the international non-profit group that promotes better cotton farming standards and practices across 21 countries. The BCI exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it and better for the environment it grows in.

Frankly, knowing that we’re using tried-and-tested fabrics that are better for the environment also helps us sleep better at night, too. Wouldn’t you?