Selecting the Perfect Bed Sheets for Sweet Dreams

You toss and turn at night wondering if you will ever find the perfect bed sheets. Besides the bed itself, sheets are the second most important factor when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Once you understand the different types of fabrics, thread counts and sheet sizes, you will be ready to purchase the bed sheets of your dreams.

Fabric Type and Weave
Cotton is king, or so the saying goes. Actually, cotton has been and is still the preeminent fabric used in bed sheeting. Not surprising, given the natural fiber’s durability, breathability, softness and year-round comfort. However, not all cotton is created equal.

Choose from American Upland, Pima or Egyptian cotton. Upland cotton is the type used in most bed sheets. It can have long or short fibers and is typically labeled “100 percent cotton.”  Pima cotton features long, slender fibers, giving it a softer feel. The extra long fibers and strict growing/manufacturing process of Egyptian cotton yield a super supple, luxurious and expensive end product.

Not only is the type of cotton important, you also need to consider the weave. Percale and sateen are both extremely popular. Percale weave consists of cotton yarns woven in an over-under pattern, producing a durable fabric with a crisp feel. Extremely soft sateen sheets have a weave comprised of more vertical yarns and undergo a final heat process resulting in their characteristic satiny appearance.

Some of us don't care for the wrinkles inherent in cotton sheets. Consider cotton blends instead—they can save you time and money. Cotton-polyester is a popular choice, but lacks the cooling nature of pure cotton. On the upside, cotton blends are less expensive and are virtually wrinkle-free.

If you have expensive taste and a penchant for pure luxury, you may want to invest in linen or silk bed sheets. They are extremely durable, making them a good investment over time. Linen sheets are perfect for hot, humid climates due to their natural cooling capabilities. Silk, on the other hand, will keep you insulated and toasty warm during the winter. Be advised: they do involve special care with regard to cleaning and maintenance to keep them looking good.

For those concerned with the environment, several types of sustainable textiles top the list of choices for bed sheets. Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides and chemical additives and dyes. Bamboo bed sheets are more absorbent than organic cotton but just as durable. Modal bed sheets, made from beech cellulose, naturally resist wrinkles, shrinkage and fading.

When choosing sheets, size does matter. The proper size sheets give your bed a neat and tidy appearance and make for a comfortable night’s sleep. Look for manufacturers that make slightly longer and wider flat sheets that stay neatly tucked in all night. With the variety of mattress types out there, you must also consider mattress depth when purchasing fitted sheets.

Fitted sheets with the “deep pocket” designation are made specifically for thicker mattresses like pillow tops or memory foams. Another good idea is to purchase fitted sheets with elastic around the entire perimeter so they stay snug and in place. (Check out the link to mattress dimensions and sheet sizing in “Images and Sources”.)

Thread Count
Thread count can be as important as fabric content and weave. Thread count refers to the number of threads contained in one square inch of sheeting fabric. Low thread counts of 200 and less are rough to the touch and tend to pill easily after a few washes. While extremely high thread counts (800-1000) may sound heavenly, in some cases, they are no better than a sheet at a thread count of 400. It depends on the quality of the fibers. Take that into account before you plunk down big bucks for high thread count sheets.

Do Your Homework

While all of these factors play into making an informed purchasing decision, personal preference is of utmost importance. Since used and laundered sheets are typically not returnable, go the extra mile and do your homework before buying. In this case, online research can be your best friend. Select a few types/brands of sheets you think you might like--then go online and read customer reviews. You'll avoid making a costly mistake that could literally keep you up at night!

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