Outside Magazine

Do You Really Need Performance Pajamas?

Kelly Bastone        

A new sleepwear company is on a mission to improve women's sleep using the same material gear companies have relied on for years

Betsy Seabert couldn’t sleep. The problem wasn’t stress or too much wine at dinner—it was breast cancer and its insidious treatment, which brought on night sweats. A wildly fluctuating body temperature woke Seabert several times each night, and falling back to sleep in soaked PJs proved impossible.

Seabert’s case is extreme, but she’s not the only woman plagued by troubled sleep. According to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, women are twice as likely as men to experience problems falling or staying asleep. Pregnancy and menopause often play a role, but so do monthly periods.

Seeking a solution, Seabert turned to her 15 years of experience with wool. She had worked first at Smartwool, then the sock company Point6. At both posts, she touted the temperature-regulating magic of merino, so Seabert started sleeping in the same base layers she wore for hiking, paddleboarding, and telemark skiing. “The difference was incredible,” she says. Sleeping in merino didn’t stop Seabert from sweating, but it did handle the moisture better than anything else she’d tried. Instead of waking up soaked and chilled, she stayed cozy enough to not wake up because of it.

If wool PJs could help a breast cancer survivor, Seabert thought, they could probably help all women ride out their own temperature fluctuations.

Of course, not everyone wants to sleep in clingy tights and shirts, so Seabert worked up a few loose-cut sleepwear designs: a tank-style nightgown ($129), boxer shorts ($79), a classic pajama top ($129) and bottom ($120). Her company, Chill Angel, launched last month.

I love merino base layers, but I initially wasn’t sure I wanted to sleep in wool—I was afraid it might feel scratchier than the cotton and silk pajamas I’m used to. But the Chill Angel pieces passed the itch test. They’re made from superfine New Zealand merino that’s not blended with nylon or anything else.

After a few weeks of testing, these have become my favorite pajamas. I reach for them instead of my super-plush flannel or my buttery cotton knits. I sleep great in them. But I also like how they feel before and after I go to bed. They make the evenings cozier and the chilly mornings less bracing. And if they help me get out of bed for dawn-patrol missions, that’s value in my book.

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