The Best Material for Bed Sheets Based on Your Sleep Type

Getting a good night’s sleep is not always the easiest thing to do. Gone are the days where you just went out and bought a bed and some sheets then settled in for the night. Today, technology has stepped up the game and the market is filled with products that say they can help you sleep better. One of those items is sheets. They have gone from simple cotton to newer and more complicated choices.

When you are looking for new sheets, some types that are better than others depending on how you sleep. We all want to be comfortable and get the best sleep possible so finding the sheets that are the best fit for you is important. While the assumption is that a higher thread count is the way to go, that is not always the case. When it comes to a night of comfortable sleep, the material is more important. The other misconception about bed sheets is that the most expensive ones are the best. Neither of these assumptions is correct and finding the ones that suit you best is the key to getting a good night’s sleep.

Tips to find the right sheets for you

Once we are old enough to buy our own sheets and the Mickey Mouse ones our mom bought us no longer do, there are a lot of options to consider: which ones are best, which ones feel good, and which ones help us sleep better? What material best supports our sleep type? Here is a guide to some sheet materials and tips to help you make this important decision:

 

Cotton

 

As bland as cotton sounds, it’s the most popular material for sheets on the market. With newer technology and blends, cotton has something to offer almost everyone. If you’re thinking about getting cotton sheets, remember that not every cotton is the same. There are different quality ratings, thread counts, weaves, staple lengths, and much more. Understanding all of these distinctions will help you choose the right cotton sheet for your sleep type.

  • Staple Length – When cotton is grown, it produces in what are called boles. These are the white fluffy puffs on the plant that you probably picture when you think about cotton. Boles are stretched into fibers and woven into cotton material. The length the boles stretch is called the staple length. In layman's terms, staple length is the length of fibers used to weave the cotton into a sheet. There are short-staple (approximately 1-1/8” long ), long-staple (minimum 1-1/4”) and extra-long staple (1-3/8”-2”) options. The longer the staple is, the higher the quality of the cotton. A longer staple also means the sheets are softer and much more durable than short-staple. These are further broken down into various types of cotton: 
  • Egyptian Cotton – This is the highest quality cotton on the market when it comes to sheets. Egyptian cotton is usually more expensive as it is made with an extra-long staple. These sheets are extremely soft and durable.
  • Pima or Supima – Supima is a trademark for American Pima cotton. This type of cotton is a long staple and is a little less expensive than Egyptian. It is still considered high-end quality and is super soft and durable.
  • American Upland – This is your basic cotton sheet. If the label has 100% cotton on it then it is probably American Upland. This type is a short-staple weave and tends to be a little rougher to the feel, but it is the most common kind of sheets purchased. It tends to run a little cheaper than the Egyptian or Pima and softens after a few washes. These sheets are durable but not as soft as the more expensive kinds of cotton. 
  • MicroCotton – This cotton has been trademarked through India and is made with a very fine thread with a long-staple cotton blend that makes it soft and strong. A good product for a comfortable sleep.
  • Weave - Along with staple, you should consider the sheet’s weave to determine the softness and durability, even with lower quality sheets. This means you can get softness without the high costs by choosing the right weave.
  • Flannel – These are the sheets we often use in the winter for extra warmth. They are a plain or twill weave making them soft and more supple and get softer after a few washes. These sheets are good for cold sleepers as they keep the heat in when the temperature drops.
  • Percale – This a plain weave used for high-end cotton sheets that are combed and then woven very tightly. The tight weave makes the sheet feel softer and sleek. These are a great sheet for people who sleep warm or hot as they are cooler sleep than a lot of other sheets.
  • Sateen – Sateen uses four threads over and under to create a product that smooth and silky in its feel. It is extremely durable. This weave is best for warmth at night rather than a cool sleep as they’re a bit heavier and hold in body heat.
  • Jersey knit – This weave reminds us more of clothing than sheets but it is made of cotton or a cotton blend and is knitted rather than woven. Jersey sheets are stretchy and fit well on mattresses. They’re also really comfy to sleep on and similar to flannel. They hold in heat and are great for those who get chilly at night.
  • Thread Count – Who knew there were so many things to consider when choosing cotton sheets? Thread count is one of the things people commonly know about bed sheets but they are often misinformed. Most people think a higher thread count is always better. This is not the case. Thread count is the number of threads both horizontally and vertically in one square inch of material. While thread count is good to know, it is not the only thing to consider and should probably be lower on the priority list. That said, you do want a thread count that is somewhat high so you know the sheet has a good weave. This tells you about durability and softness at the same time. Aim for a thread count of 250+ and the sheet should be fine when combined with the other characteristics.
  • Single or Two-Ply – In this case, ply does not apply to paper products. It actually means something different. Two-ply sheets have a loose weave so they feel less soft to the touch and are far less durable. Single-ply is better as it will be softer and stronger, even if the thread count is lower.

Beyond Cotton 

As stated earlier, cotton is the most popular material for bed sheets simply because it’s what people know and is not overly confusing but other materials are just as good to support your sleep and your sleep type. Technology and design are constantly improving to meet the needs of sleepers so don’t rule out other materials when you are looking to buy sheets.

  • Flannel – While we talked about flannel a bit already, it deserves its own mention as it has its own special weave that keeps the sleeper warm. Flannel captures body heat to keep the sleeper cozy but, if you are a hot sleeper or get night sweats, it’s not the best choice for you. It does not have a thread count but is instead rated in ounces per square yard as it is a loose weave and two-ply. This is a great winter sheet unless you are a hot sleeper.
  • Tencel – Tencel is created from wood pulp from the eucalyptus tree. It sounds odd but this material is naturally anti-microbial and environmentally friendly. It uses less water, chemicals, and energy to manufacture when compared to cotton but is still soft and cozy. One problem, though, is it is not breathable like cotton sheets. Tencel keeps heat in rather than dispersing it. It still has good airflow compared to materials like flannel but is not quite as cool as cotton in general.
  • Silk – Many of us think of silk sheets as sexy and high end, a luxury purchase - and they are well worth it, top of the line and a great way to sleep. Silk is produced by silkworms and is a cool option for sleeping. Silk sheets are great for people who sleep hot. They are also hypoallergenic and great for those with allergies who may be bothered by cotton sheets. That said, they are expensive and delicate. Silk sheets are harder to maintain and not as durable when compared to the cotton sheets you can just toss in the wash.
  • Polyester – These sheets are a little more durable and a lot cheaper. They are made of the same polymers found in clothing and plastic bottles and tend to have a scratchier feel, particularly if they are 100% polyester. If you can get a blend, you can alleviate that issue. Cotton and polyester blends are a little more expensive but a lot softer. There are also microfiber sheets that are polyester as well but the tight weave offers a softer feel and better durability. This material is generally not very breathable so if you are a hot sleeper, it’s not a great choice. On the upside, polyester tends to be stain resistant so it is good for kids.
  • Linen – Linen seems like an old fashioned material but it's actually one of the best when it comes to comfort, strength, and breathability. It is made from flax and feels soft thanks to a specific weave. Linen sheets have good airflow for hot sleepers and can be used year-round. They are extremely tough and will not rip or tear if you are a restless sleeper.
  • Bamboo – Rayon – These sheets are considered eco-friendly and the newest trend. That said, if the majority of the weave were really made of bamboo, it would be very rough and uncomfortable. Bamboo sheets usually have a significant amount of rayon or chemically treated bamboo pulp. So, it’s actually not as environmentally friendly as you might think. This doesn’t take away from the good things about these sheets but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re doing something for the environment when you really aren’t. These sheets are soft and durable and they tend to sleep cool so they’re great for hot sleepers. They are a good option when it comes to breathability and cheaper than high-end cotton sheets.

Final Thoughts 

While thread counts have long been the focus of people looking for high-quality bed sheets, there are more important things to consider when looking for new sheets. If you get hot or cold when you sleep, have sensitive skin, or move around a lot, several options suit your needs. Everyone can find something to make their sleep more comfortable. While people need to meet their sleep needs, they also need to consider their budget. If you do your research and read reviews, you can find what works for you both economically and practically. 

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