What Exactly is Bamboo Bedding?

Widely celebrated as a potentially eco-friendly choice and lauded for the sleeping conditions it provides, bamboo bedding continues to see an increase in its popularity. From bamboo pillows through bamboo sheets, bamboo stands out among natural fabrics for its ability to regulate temperature—which, in turn, promotes a restful night of sleep. And with one in three Americans reporting they get less than six hours of sleep per night, anything that can increase sleep quality and quantity is a welcome addition into people’s homes—and beds.

It’s not just about poor sleep. Even the position of your body while you sleep can affect you in the long run, particularly if you are putting a lot of stress on specific parts of your body. You might tend to sleep on a limb and cut off circulation, or sustain a lot of weight—and stress—on a particular spot on your hips over time if you favor a certain sleeping position.

Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

How is bamboo made into a fabric?

In the first step, the bamboo is harvested and the stalks are cut into smaller pieces. It is generally the seasoned, older bamboo that is used to make bamboo bedding because the flesh is a bit more malleable and therefore easier to work with. After all, the end product—the bamboo fabric—needs to make use of soft fibers. Who would want to wrap themselves up in stiff bamboo sheets?

Then, the bamboo is soaked for an extended period of time to help break down and soften the fibers. The most environmentally-friendly manufacturers achieve this via a closed-loop process to minimize the ecological footprint. What remains from the soaking step is a thick bamboo pulp that can be drawn into sheets and dried as such.

Once the sheets are completely desiccated, a mill processes them into a fluffy material that can be spun into bamboo thread. This is used to make bamboo pillows, bamboo sheets, and even bamboo clothing.

There are three main types of bamboo fabric: rayon/viscose, Tencel, and linen. Rayon was the original type of bamboo fabric, although there are several variations in how it is produced (some more environmentally-friendly than others). Tencel is another option and is a great choice because its processing doesn’t leave any environmental footprint. Linen is the last option, and let it be known: bamboo linen is extremely breathable—and hence very cooling.

Improved blood circulation — Without any pressure limiting blood flow, your blood can move freely and evenly throughout your blood vessels. This prevents you from tossing and turning as you sleep and also facilitates the restorative functions your body takes on while you sleep since every part of your body can receive oxygen and nutrients and have wastes toted away, unhindered.

Benefits of bamboo pillows and bamboo sheets

Some manufacturers tout bamboo bedding as being superior to other popular natural fabrics; for example, some claim that it is twice as soft as cotton. That makes resting your head on bamboo pillows sound all the more enticing, doesn’t it? Not only are soft fabrics more comfortable to rest on, but they can be better for your skin in the long run. Bamboo silk is a lesser-known option that is available and might be tempting if you are worried about hair breakage or fine lines and wrinkles—which silk does not cause, unlike other fabrics. This silk can be used to make your bamboo pillows.

Bamboo is cooling and moisture-wicking. The nature of its fibers and the way they come together in the fabric makes for a very breathable matrix. While cotton absorbs moisture or heat and sits with it, bamboo wicks away moisture and pulls away heat. This is one reason why bamboo bedding is such a robust option. Since so many people sleep hot or sweat while they sleep (or both), they benefit from bamboo sheets that can directly tackle both issues.

As if those aren’t enough reasons to love bamboo, it is also said to naturally repel odors. Scientists have looked into this, and while not inherently antibacterial, the ability to absorb and release moisture (known as “hygroscopicity”) that bamboo fibers have can contribute to some of the observed odor-repellant effects. Hygroscopicity is likely what accounts for the claims that it resists funky smells since it can resist the growth of the contributing culprits: bacteria and fungi.

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