Sheepskin wool mattress pads have long been popular in hospital and nursing home settings because of the way it reduces bed sores in bed-ridden people. They are becoming increasingly popular at home now because of their comfort and durability. I have had one for years now and can’t imagine living without it. I love getting home to my own bed — and wool mattress pad — after traveling.
In their never ending quest for ultimate comfort, many sleepers take a hint from their slippers. The warmth and seductive comfort of sheepskin wool mattress pads makes them a popular choice, as do the marketing efforts of shepherds.
Some sheepskin wool mattress pads are actual sheepskins, complete with the leather backing. These mattress pads do not cover a full bed, but are designed to provide comfort in specific pressure point areas. Sometimes they are called medical or hospital pads. They are used with bedridden patients to relieve bedsores caused by point pressure. They are processed to be machine washable.
Full-sized, and bigger, sheepskin wool mattress pads don’t really have any sheepskin in them. Sheep just don’t grow that big. Instead they have wool fibers shorn from sheep and twisted into tufts such as one finds in a carpet. These tufts are sewn onto a cotton backing. Corner straps sewn to the backing provide a grip on the mattress’ corners, and a bottom sheet goes over the sheepskin wool mattress pad.
The tufts of most sheepskin wool mattress pads are generally around 1.4 inches (3.5 cm) long. The density of tuftson sheepskin wool mattress pads runs around 800 grams per square meter -– enough to provide support without making the sheepskin wool mattress pads too heavy.
Vendors tell us that the wool in these mattress pads wick perspiration moisture away from the body and allow air to circulate under the sleeper, providing a more comfortable night’s sleep. Some vendors mysteriously claim that wool acts as a “natural thermostat”, constantly adjusting to one’s changing body temperature throughout the night.
It is also claimed that wool mattress pads are especially good on waterbeds, and help to prevent that “clammy” feeling that waterbeds can have. In fact, a waterbed won’t have surface dampness unless it is leaking. If it feels “clammy”, it is probably too cold. An insulating sheepskin wool mattress pad might help keep the sleeper warm, but turning up the thermostat on the waterbed will help even more.
Wool is often associated with people with allergies because of its dust mite and allergen reducing qualities. Even people with wool allergies can use sheepskin wool mattress pads because they can be covered in cotton so people don’t touch the wool.
Most of these mattress pads are made from “virgin” wool, which simply means that the wool has never been used in another product before. One is unlikely to find a non-virgin sheepskin wool mattress pad, but it would probably be described as “recycled” wool. Australia and the U.S. are the most common sources of wool.
The construction of sheepskin wool mattress pads varies, and whether it makes a difference is debatable. Some vendors swear that it matters how the wool fibers are oriented; supposedly, if they’re pointing in the same direction they did on the sheep, they will stay springy longer. Others have their own proprietary way of attaching tufts to backing, claiming greater durability and springiness. Take such claims with a grain or two of salt.
There is no denying that sheepskin wool mattress pads feel luxurious and comfortable. They may even have some health benefits for the bedridden, such as aiding in relieving bedsores. They are more expensive than regular mattress pads, but not by a large degree, so by all means try one — you might get the most restful and comfortable sleep you’ve ever had.