Alternatives to Bamboo Fabric For Night Sweats When Bamboo hasn't Worked

Alternatives to bamboo fabric when you suffer from night sweats

After my own experience suffering from chronic night sweats due to menopause, I set out to create sleepwear that was highly effective at heat and moisture management to help other night sweats sufferers. While I was thinking about what fabric to use, I knew that I wouldn't even consider bamboo. My husband had given me bamboo sheets for Christmas one year after I’d been suffering from night sweats for a few months. I was really excited about trying them but after one night I realized that not only were they ineffective, I didn’t like the feel of the fabric.

A friend of mine describes bamboo as “wet lettuce.” I have to agree. It’s just not a fabric feel (known as the “hand” in fabric speak) I like. I get all caught up in them and feel like they cling to me. Further, the “cooling” effect lasts about 3 minutes before they adapt to your body’s temperature and then they’re just as warm as you are.

If you search for “bamboo pjs for night sweats” or “bamboo sheets for night sweats” on any search engine, you’ll see nothing but raves about the fabric from bloggers, big magazines and websites alike, so I get that I’m in the minority.

Despite that, I take heart in knowing I’m not alone. I’ve spoken to many people who, like me, suffer from night sweats, and who, like me, have tried bamboo and have had zero relief.  

The problem is that with bamboo sheets and sleepwear dominating search engine results, you may be hard pressed to discover what alternatives are out there, and further, if they will work for you. You may also be skeptical about whether there really are fabrics out there that can help you sleep more comfortably.

That’s the main reason I’m writing this blog post – to present alternative fabrics to try when bamboo hasn’t worked for you. I’ll be honest – these alternatives may or may not work for you. Fabrics can only accomplish so much. They are as reactive as sponges, and even sponges have limits. But it’s worth a try to find sleepwear in a fabric that will work for you so that you can get your sleep back, wake up refreshed and be you again (and not the walking zombie who has currently taken over your body).

Why bamboo sleepwear may not work for your night sweats – hint: it’s not actually “bamboo”

Bamboo sleepwear has been heavily marketed in recent years as a moisture-wicking, breathable solution for night sweats. However, most bamboo sleepwear today is not actually authentically bamboo. The majority of modern bamboo textiles are actually rayon created through a process called viscose manufacturing.

During this process, bamboo cellulose is treated with harsh chemicals like sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide to break down the fibers and form a viscous solution. This solution is then forced through tiny holes to form cellulose filaments for weaving into fabric. Through this process, the bamboo's original structure and beneficial properties are completely destroyed. 

The resulting viscose fabric, while marketed as "bamboo," lacks the key moisture-wicking and highly breathable qualities of pure natural bamboo fiber (known as bamboo silk or bamboo linen). The infusing and extruding process strips away the very aspects that could potentially help with night sweats. For many of us, bamboo viscose sleepwear and bedding does not live up to its promises and fails to provide relief from chronic night sweats.

The bottom line is, most bamboo fabric on the market is actually just rayon and behaves identically to rayon. In fact, in the US, the FTC requires all bamboo viscose fabric must be displayed as bamboo viscose and not just “bamboo.”


Alternatives to bamboo fabric for night sweats

So, if bamboo isn’t as effective as it’s made out to be for night sweats’ sufferers, what should you be sleeping in?

Here are the properties a fabric needs to help you sleep more, toss and turn less and wake up dry:

Fast wicking: A fabric that can wick sweat away from you as fast as it’s happening so you barely notice your sweat.

Heat managing: when you are in the throes of a night sweat and your temperature shoots up before plummeting below your normal body temperature, you need a fabric that can draw most of that heat away but keeps some of it for the downturn in your temperature. You need a lightly insulating fabric.

There are a few materials that include one or both of these requirements well:

Linen is made from the flax plant and is highly breathable, moisture-wicking and helps regulate body temperature. The natural fibers allow linen to absorb and release perspiration.

Bamboo lyocell (lyocell's brand name is Tencel) is made through a closed-loop manufacturing process that uses non-toxic solvents to turn bamboo cellulose into a soft, smooth fabric. Bamboo lyocell retains more of bamboo's natural properties, making it more effective than bamboo viscose. This is Tencel that is specifically made from bamboo - most lyocell is made from beech trees.

Merino wool has moisture-wicking fibers that absorb sweat and naturally regulate temperature. The wool fibers allow a cooling flow of air next to the skin. Merino is also antimicrobial and minimizes odors. However, note that Merino wool has powerful insulating properties, so a little goes a long way. Summer weight Merino garments are best for night sweats’ sufferers.

Hemp/cotton blends (must be majority hemp) combine the temperature regulation of hemp with the breathability of cotton for maximum heat management and sweat absorption. The blend retains the inherent properties of each natural fiber and together they promote wonderful comfort.

Our Simone Nightgown will help you sleep more comfortably all night long

Why we think our fabric tops them all (hey, what can we say, we’re definitely biased)

Our unique fabric provides several key benefits that make it ideal for keeping you dry and comfortable when night sweats strike:

Superior wicking properties: The fabric naturally pulls sweat off the skin and into and through the fabric, keeping your skin dry and preventing that clammy feeling.

Allows airflow next to skin: With moisture wicked away, air can circulate next to the skin, accelerating evaporative cooling. The looser weave also allows more air to flow through the fabric itself.

Absorbs and evaporates sweat quickly: Our fabric absorbs excess sweat effectively, then dries rapidly to keep you cool and dry through the night.

Stays soft against skin: Unlike some athletic moisture-wicking fabrics, our hemp/cotton blend maintains a soft t-shirt like feel against the skin. Even people with sensitive skin are comfortable in it.

Washes easily without retaining odors: Night sweats can lead to body odors lingering in the sleepwear fabric. Our sleepwear washes well and remains fresh smelling. It doesn’t need handwashing either – just throw it in the washer with like colours. The antimicrobial properties of hemp prevent bacteria from growing. It also needs to be washed less frequently.

 If you're suffering from menopause-related night sweats, you can read about how our sleepwear helps you sleep more comfortably.

The key to effective sleepwear for your night sweats,

Find fabrics that actively wick moisture away from the skin while enabling airflow in addition to managing your hot and cold swings such as lyocell, linen, merino wool, and our hemp/cotton blend. These fabrics have specific properties that make them ideal for heat and sweat management when bamboo viscose falls short.

But sleepwear doesn’t work alone…

For optimal comfort, your sheets and bed linens need to be set up to promote wicking and heat management as well. You want water and heat to be pulled away from your body by each layer, so consider using sheets, blankets/duvets in similar fabrics to your sleepwear.

Avoid sleepwear, sheets and blankets made from these fabrics:

Fabrics such as microfibre, polyester, and luxury cotton can actually trap the heat and sweat next to you even when you’re wearing your night sweats sleepwear. Think of it as the same as being in a steam room, even the best moisture-managing garments will still get wet when there is nowhere for the heat and moisture to go.

When bamboo sheets might be acceptable

As much as I don’t love bamboo (which is really just rayon), you may find that with your new, effective night sweats sleepwear, your bamboo sheets may now work just fine. That’s because they draw the heat and moisture away from your sleepwear. As long as the next layer (your blanket or duvet) is cotton, wool, lyocell, you may be very comfortable.

So, if you’re thinking about buying bamboo sleepwear because you suffer from chronic night sweats, know that it:

  • behaves exactly like any rayon sleepwear
  • isn’t very effective at managing moisture if you have moderate to severe night sweats
  • isn’t as good a heat manager as some other fabrics
  • is a delicate fabric that can tear easily, and
  • lower quality garments and sheets will pill quickly

If you have any questions or comments (or want to tell me off because you love your bamboo sleepwear), please leave a comment below. 😉

Sweet dreams!

You might also like:

The Best Fabric for Night Sweats Sufferers

Thermo-regulating Fabric: A Cool Solution for Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Is Breathable Fabric The Key To A Good Night's Sleep for Night Sweats Sufferers?


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