The Perfect Bed Sheets for Sweet Dreams

Updated on April 24, 2019
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Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

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Do 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 weaves, thread counts and sheet sizes, you'll be ready to purchase the bed sheets of your dreams.

Fabric Types and Weaves

Cotton is king, or so the saying goes. Actually, cotton has been and still is the preeminent fabric used in bed linens. 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.
  • Egyptian cotton has extra long fibers and strict growing/manufacturing process, which yields a super supple, luxurious and pricey end product.

The type of cotton isn't the only important factor. You also need to consider the weave. Percale and sateen are both extremely popular.

  • Percale weave consists of cotton yarns woven in a one over-under pattern, producing a durable fabric with a crisp feel.
  • Sateen sheets have a weave comprised of one-under and three-over, giving it a tight weave, exceptionally soft feel and 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 sheets. They are extremely durable, making them a good investment over time.

  • Linen sheets are ideal 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 sheets made from beech cellulose naturally resist wrinkles, shrinkage and fading.

Sateen has a soft sheen and percale has a flat, crisp appearance.
Sateen has a soft sheen and percale has a flat, crisp appearance. | Source

Caring for Extra Delicate Sheets

  • Gently break them in. Go with lukewarm water when washing. Use a biodegradable gentle detergent. It will protect the sheen and soften the fibers.
  • Try not to use the dryer. Air dry the sheets if at all possible. For example, silk sheets don't do well in the dryer unless it's on a very low temperature or air fluff.
  • Use the handwash cycle. Always set the machine on the delicate cycle and in tepid water. Wash them alone to keep out other clothes or towels that can damage the fibers.
  • Iron out wrinkles. Iron linen sheets while they are slightly damp. For a crisp look, use a low temperature on the reverse side of the fabric.

Determining the Right Size

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 foam. Another good idea is to purchase fitted sheets with elastic around the entire perimeter so they stay snug and in place.

Mattress Dimensions and Sheet Sizes

Bed Sizes
Dimensions
Fitted Sheet Sizes
Twin
39 x 75 inches
39 x 76 inches
Full
54 x 75 inches
54 x 75 inches
Queen
60 x 80 inches
60 x 80 inches
King
76 x 80 inches
76 x 80 inches
California King
72 x 84 inches
72 x 84 inches
Pillow top and extra deep mattresses are still popular. Before selecting sheets and mattress pads it's important to measure the depth of your mattress. You'll still need to make sure your flat sheet is large enough to stay snug under the mattress.

Choosing the Ideal 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 or less can often feel rough to the touch and tend to pill easily after a few washes. However, they can feel better than a 400 thread count if they are made from a high quality single ply cotton yarn. While extremely high thread counts (800-1200) may sound heavenly, they are often no better than cheap multi-ply yarn at a lower thread count number. It really all depends on the quality of the yarn. Take this into account before you plunk down big bucks for high thread count sheets.

Before you look at the thread count check the yarn quality. The sheets will have a softer feel and smoother appearance.
Before you look at the thread count check the yarn quality. The sheets will have a softer feel and smoother appearance. | Source

Do Your Homework Before Shopping

While all of these factors play into making an informed purchasing decision, personal preference is of the utmost importance. Since used and laundered sheets are 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 and 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!

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Linda Chechar

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      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Chechar 

        10 months ago from Arizona

        Emmy, I also love the feel of cotton sheets. I recent purchased new ones and they are heavenly soft and barely wrinkled out of the dryer. They're my favorites!

      • Emmy ali profile image

        Eman Abdallah Kamel 

        10 months ago from Egypt

        Thank you, Linda, for this useful and detailed article. I love cotton fabrics. I think also, the cotton was and still the king of fabrics.

      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Chechar 

        10 months ago from Arizona

        Thanks, RTalloni, I've purchased a number of cheap bed sheets over the years and they just don't hold up. They may last a few months before falling apart. I've finally realized better quality is an solid investment. That way I end up spending less money over time.

      • profile image

        RTalloni 

        10 months ago

        Thanks for an informative post on choosing which bed sheets to buy. Am getting ready to make an investment and appreciate the info on fabric types as well as your other details.

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