Your bedding can make all the difference when it comes to a good night’s sleep. Scratchy sheets, a lumpy duvet, or blankets that trap heat and moisture can cause you to wake up in the night and disrupt your sleep. The material of your bedding matters!
When you shop for bedding, you will find a variety of different materials. Each fabric has its pros and cons and will range in softness, weight, breathability, and price. But, before we get into the different material options – here is why it matters.
Temperature plays an important role in sleep. Your body’s temperature will naturally fluctuate throughout the day. This is a crucial element of your circadian rhythm, where your temperature drops when it's time for sleep and then increases when it’s time to wake up. When your bedding is too warm, it can prevent your temperature from dropping as it should making it hard to fall asleep. Research has found that temperature is one of the most important factors in sleep and can be a significant disruptor. If you are either too hot or too cold, it can cause you to wake up prematurely. A Cooling Pillow is just one way to keep your temperature regulated.
Although our temperature typically drops as we sleep, some people are “hot sleepers.” Night sweats are more common when sleeping in a room that is too hot or when bedding is too warm. It can also be triggered by hormone disorders, certain medications, cancer, or infections. In addition, certain fabrics, pillows, and mattresses will trap heat and moisture, so when you sweat at night, it stays in the material. Although it’s easy enough to throw your sheets in the washer, this can’t be done for your mattress, so it is best to reduce sweat and choose breathable bedding material.
Bedding that is soft, breathable, and flexible will feel more comfortable. Cheaper sheets can feel scratchy and rough on your skin, whereas luxurious, high-quality bedding will feel soft and smooth. High-quality bedding is why beds in five-star hotels feel so amazing (read this blog post if you want to transform your bedroom into a luxurious hotel suite). When you are comfortable, you sleep better. Just as a supportive buckwheat pillow will keep your head and neck comfortable, the right bedding material will keep your body comfortable.
The weight of your sheets can affect your sleep as it will impact your comfort and temperature. Different fibers vary in warmth, weight, and thickness, and which is best for you is a matter of personal preference. You should factor in the room temperature and your blanket to choose the correct weight of your sheets. For example, if you sleep with a down duvet, you may want to opt for lightweight sheets, whereas if you have a light throw blanket, you may prefer heavier fabrics.
According to the Sleep Foundation, most people wash their bedding once a week. This keeps their sheets fresh and clean and can reduce allergens like dust mites. However, if you sweat a lot in your sleep or have pets that share your bed, you may want to increase this. Washing and drying your sheets regularly wears them down, and over time they can thin out, become discolored, or even rip. Certain materials are more durable than others and can withstand years of weekly washings.
The cost of bedding varies significantly! You can find a sheet set for $30 or spend up to $500. The type of material, the thread count, and even the brand will affect the price. Most people will have at least two sets of bedding so they can alternate between washings. The more sets of sheets you have, and if at a higher price point, the more it will cost you. Some materials offer greater value than others. For example, some fabric types, like Tencel, have the same durability, breathability, and softness as Egyptian cotton but for a fraction of the cost.
When you throw out your bedding, it ends up in a landfill. Certain materials are more sustainable than others and will decompose quickly. For example, organic cotton can be composted and will decompose in a few months or less, whereas polyester can take anywhere from 20 to 200 years to decompose. To choose a material that is better for the environment, select bedding that will last longer. This will reduce the amount of bedding that ends up in landfills.
As you can see, there are several reasons why the material of your bedding matters, and they should all be considered when buying new linens. When you purchased your mattress and pillow, you likely spent a lot of time looking for the right one. For example, a buckwheat pillow is firm, supportive, breathable, and sustainable.
When it comes to softness, cotton, Egyptian cotton, linen, and Tencel are the best materials you can get. Cotton is a natural fiber and one of the most common materials for bedding. It is durable and holds up well to frequent washing. The downfall to some cotton sheets is they can vary in thread count and quality, with some feeling scratchy and uncomfortable.
When shopping for bedding, you will often see the term “thread count” used. This is commonly used when referencing cotton materials and refers to the number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch. This can range from 200 to 1000, with the higher the number, the softer and more durable it will be. Thread count has become a marketing tool, and it is said anything above 500 is unnecessary and won’t make much of a difference. Thread count also describes the threads. Higher thread count sheets usually use more delicate threads, whereas lower thread counts use thicker threads.
There are different types of cotton sheets like Egyptian, American, or organic that vary in fiber length and processing. Egyptian cotton is known for being extra durable and soft because of its long fibers and a higher thread count. It is often blended with other materials to reduce cost while still being able to use the name. Egyptian cotton has a reputation for being the best fabric for sheets, but this is debatable. These sheets are often expensive and not necessarily worth the higher price tag. Although it is used in many luxury settings, there are other materials that provide the same softness and durability but for a fraction of the price.
Flannel is another cotton fiber often used during colder months as it provides extra warmth and comfort on cool nights. It is made from cotton fibers that are finely brushed, pulling the top threads loose. These sheets are great when the temperature drops but can easily cause you to overheat and make sleep uncomfortable.
Linen has a long history in bedding and has recently surged in popularity. The material is natural and heavier than cotton. It also feels a little rougher but softens up over time. This is a popular choice for those with allergies as it is naturally bacteria resistant and suitable for those with sensitive skin. Additionally, its fibers are breathable and highly absorbent. The downside of linen is that the fibers are non-elastic. This means they wrinkle and look crumpled up quickly. Right now, many are embracing this look, but if you like a cleaner, sleek sheet, then linen bedding may not be the right choice for you.
Tencel is another excellent choice for breathable bedding. Tencel fabric is made from eucalyptus trees and is moisture-wicking, breathable and ideal for temperature control.
It is also exceptionally soft, feeling like silk but for less money. A Tencel sheet set will meet all the criteria mentioned previously, helping you get a good night’s sleep. Bamboo is another natural fiber that feels lightweight and soft. It is also more durable than cotton and has cooling properties.
Man-made fibers like polyester and microfleece are also commonly used in bedding. Polyester was developed in the mid-20th century and is entirely synthetic. This makes it very durable, affordable, and resistant to wrinkles. The downside to this material is that it isn’t very breathable and can trap heat and moisture. It is also prone to staining, leading people to throw these sheets in the garbage faster than other fabrics. Microfleece is a type of polyester that has been pilled, giving it a similar feel to flannel. Bedding made from microfleece is very warm and affordable but can often be too warm. These sheets also don’t last as long, especially if you put them in a dryer after washing.
We spend so much of our time in bed. The average American spends about half their life in their sheets. The material of your bedding matters and the fabric your sheets are made of can make all the difference. In many cases, the right sheets for you are a matter of preference, so consider the climate you live in, the temperature of your room at night, and if you tend to feel warm or cold at night. With the right bedding material, you can improve your sleep quality and quantity.