Think about the most comfortable bed you’ve ever slept in, and what comes to mind? If it’s the sheets, you’re in good company. Because they come in direct contact with our skin, sheets are as important as a quality mattress and cozy blanket in sending us off to dreamland.
But when it comes time to buy the perfect set of sheets- it can be a nightmare. The linen section is intimidating. Pages and pages of search results are filled with sheets, and you have to be sure to buy all the necessary parts: fitted sheet, flat sheet, and shams. Understanding some basics about the fabrics they’re made of will help you compare labels wisely and make a smart choice. Here are the things you need to know before investing in your next dreamy set.
Cotton remains the most popular sheeting fabric, due to its durability, comfort and breathability. Egyptian, pima and Sea Island cottons are the gold standard. Bamboo blends have become more popular in recent years, often blended with cotton or other materials. Because bamboo is sustainable and naturally antimicrobial, and sips up moisture, it’s well worth considering. Linen sheets, which work well in hot climates because they wick away body heat, are another option. Just be prepared to do a lot of ironing, unless you like the wrinkled look. Although satin sheets look glam and feel romantic, they can be too warm and slippery for many people.
With all the buzz about thread count — it’s easy to assume that higher means softer. But that’s not always the case. A lower-thread-count sheet made from fibers that are softer by nature, such as Egyptian cotton, will feel silkier than a high-thread-count sheet made from a lower-quality cotton blend. Don’t be tempted to buy 800- or 1,000-count sheets, however; you’ll do just fine with a style in the 400 or 450 range.
The weave of a sheet influences the way it feels, the way it looks, its longevity, and its price. Look for a percale weave; it’s a balanced weave, sort of like a basket weave, and it has a crisper or cooler feel.
If you can figure out what type of fiber is used to make the sheet, do it! Pure linen is airy and soft and feels cool to touch. It has a high propensity to absorb moisture without feeling wet. This makes it a very comfortable fabric for sleeping in whether you tend to be a “hot” or “cold” sleeper. Of course, Joe Manganiello is a hot sleeper.
Most sheets are finished with chemical processes to keep them from wrinkling or shrinking (look for terms like shrinkage control). Though it’s nice not to have wrinkly sheets, try looking for pure or organic sheets, which should be chemical free.
If you’ve ever tried to wrestle a too-small fitted sheet onto a mattress, you know how important it is to buy sheets that are the correct size. If you have a standard-size bed, such as a twin, queen or king, look for features such as elastic edging all the way around, which helps to ensure a smooth, snug fit. For extra-long twin, California king, pillow-top and other nonstandard mattresses, you’ll need to look for sheets specifically marked for those sizes. If you add a foam pad or other topper to your mattress, measure the height, then buy an extra-deep sheet that corresponds.