Smart fabrics, by definition, are textiles that can sense and respond to changes in their environment. They typically fall into two categories: passive and active smart textiles. Their application and history are so broad, you can find an entire book on the subject, titled (quite smartly) “Smart Textiles and Their Applications.”
The term “smart textile” was arguably defined for the first time in 1989, a nod to a silk thread that featured shape memory—the ability to revert back to its original form. Wearable smart textiles were later pioneered in the military and aerospace as a way to enhance functionality, and in sportswear as a way to enhance performance. Some smart fabrics are now government mandated as a means of protection: for instance, since 2007, all mattresses have been required to be treated with a fire retardant, able to withstand a two-foot wide blowtorch, open flame for a minimum of seventy seconds. (If bringing flammable objects to bed is your thing.)
With that bit of history in mind, let’s take a look at two categories—featuring the hottest smart fabric trends in the mattress industry—that can actively contribute to a better night’s sleep.
Gel infusions are a relatively new development that allow manufacturers to infuse certain technologies into mattress foam layers to provide an added benefit. Naturally occurring elements like copper and silver add stability to the foam (a bit of a yawn, we know, but structural integrity for the life of your mattress is important!) Proprietary technology, like CopperGel™ houses particles that band together under pressure to ensure that your foam doesn’t bottom out under heavy loads. Perhaps more compelling, copper is highly conductive and helps dissipate excess body heat. Copper also naturally provides protection against viruses and microbial growth, which contributes to a healthier sleep environment.
Among the most popular surface treatments are those related to cooling. Many sleepers love the customization and comfort of foam beds, but don’t love their tendency to sleep hotter than other types of mattresses. Another exclusive technology, called TitaniumGel™, contains titanium particles, used to conduct thermal energy. As foam is compressed, particles group together, creating a pathway for the heat to escape and disperse. This process is particularly important to ensure cooling in areas of deep compression support, like shoulders and hips.
More advanced technologies, like TitanCool™, react even more intelligently to their environment. The average skin temperature is 91 degrees, but a type of phase change molecule (PCM) surface infusion, TitanCool™, is designed to moderate skin sleep temperature to an ideal 88 degrees. Cooling gel beads liquefy at higher temperatures to deliver cooling relief; those same beads solidify at lower temperatures to ensure the ideal sleep environment.
While surface infusions rely on thermal energy to do their multitasking, multi-faceted benefits thing, there are certain categories of technology that leverage thermal energy so uniquely, they’re in a class all by themselves. You probably remember the debut of thermal responsive clothing products—like swimwear or evening wear—that changed color, based on a reaction to heat.
The science behind Upcycle™ technology is similarly reactive, based on the fundamental principle that heat is energy—and that energy is safely and naturally transferred every day by one of three means: conduction, convection, and radiation. Upcycle™ uses a thermo-reactive process on the surface of the mattress to convert your body heat into Far Infrared Rays, safely emitted back into your body as invisible waves of energy. Why does it work? Because Far Infrared Rays are unique in their ability to penetrate, soothe and stimulate local blood flow, enabling a more restorative sleep.
Kinetic energy is actually a form of thermal energy—characterized by motion. One of today’s lightning rod issues (no pun intended) is our relationship with the earth. Intense™ technology takes its cue from the “earthing” movement, the idea that connecting to the earth’s natural energy is foundational for vibrant health and balance of energy.
To understand how that balance can be achieved, consider that an average person generates a body voltage between 10,000 to 20,000 volts while sleeping, often through movement. Higher body voltage can affect sleep patterns, namely because an increase in voltage leads to an increase in cortisol, the “stress hormone” that contributes to insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Intense™ technology utilizes Nega-Stat trilobal carbon thread to reduce the voltage to a body neutral level, a “grounding” effect that can help you achieve a deeper, more relaxing sleep.
So now that you know more about intelligent textiles, how do you decide which smart fabric solution is right for you?
That really depends on your own hot button issues, and what thermal energy can do for you. At Brooklyn Bedding, we always recommend cooling benefits when searching for the perfect sleep surface—knowing that sleeping too hot is a top contributor to sleep disturbances. Our newest addition to our growing portfolio of personalized sleep solutions offers three of the smartest solutions in one mattress: the Propel Hybrid by Brooklyn Bedding delivers the recovery benefits of Upcycle™, coupled with a high-end layer of CopperFlex® foam and two cooling gel infusions, including TitanCool™.
Which leads us to the most important question. In a world of smart phones, smart homes and smart cars, isn’t it time to get smarter sleep?