There’s a lot of confusing information out there, and it’s easy to spend a whole lot of money. But with a little knowledge, you can make an informed choice that will help you stay comfortable and sleep through the night. Here’s a quick primer to help you find the bedding that gives you the best results.
Learn the Terminology
It can be confusing to hear manufacturers throw around terms like thread count, weave, and durability. While these are all important concepts, there isn’t a magical scale that rates one better than another. But it does help to understand what they’re trying to say to help you compare different options.
Thread count : This is simply the number of horizontal and vertical threads per square inch. High-end sheets like to use this figure to brag, as the higher the count is generally connected to a softer feel. Most sheets range in thread count between 180 and 1,000, although 400-500 is considered the luxury range. The problem with high thread-count sheets is that at some point the additional fibers start to make them feel stiff. At the very least, there are diminishing returns as you go higher up in thread count.
Fibers : This is the material used to make the sheets. Cotton is probably the most popular, but there are many other options. Jersey (a type of cotton), flannel, linen, polyester, microfiber, and satin sheets are all well represented on the market.
Weave : This is the pattern of thread used to create the sheet. The most popular is known as percale, which is a plain weave that is lightweight and produces a smooth finish. A sateen weave uses more vertical threads than horizontal, which creates a softer sheet, but chances are it won’t last as long.
Durability : This is harder to put a number to, but it describes how long you can expect the sheets to last. Jersey sheets offer a soft, tee-shirt-like feel that kids like, but they don’t last very long and are prone to tearing. Inexpensive polyester sheets will often start to deteriorate after a year of use. High-quality sheets should last you many years if cared for properly.
Understand the High-Tech Performance
Perhaps one of the more exciting developments in bedding is the increased use of performance-based fabrics to help people get better sleep. Keeping your body at the right temperature is a critical component of restful sleep, and bedding made with 37.5 Technology will help you stay in the comfort zone longer throughout the night.
How does it work? Active particles that are permanently embedded into the sheet’s fibers capture and release moisture vapor to help your body maintain the optimum levels of temperature and humidity. The name 37.5 refers to the ideal body temperature (37.5 degrees Celsius) and humidity (37.5 percent) that the fabric helps maintain next to your skin, known as the microclimate. The technology will help you stay cool in warmer conditions, but if you get too cold, those active particles will trap your body’s infrared energy to warm you up.
Some examples of sheets using this technology come from Sleep Number, but you’ll also find the technology in pillows, mattress pads, duvets, and even mattresses.
It’s also worth noting that the patented, active particles used in 37.5 Technology are embedded directly into the fabric, so they will never degrade. They actually refresh with every wash and maintain their effectiveness for the life of the product.
Select the Proper Size
Of course, knowing the size of your bed is critical when buying sheets, but you may not realize that not all mattresses are the same size. While the length and width are standardized (a queen size bed is always 60 inches wide and 80 inches long, for example), the depth of the mattress can vary widely. Those with thicker mattresses may end up with sheets that aren’t big enough for a proper fit. (If you use a foam mattress topper, like the Novaform model, take that into consideration as well.) Better sheets will offer the width dimension as well, stating that they fit mattresses up to 15 inches deep, for example.
Take Proper Care
There are a variety of steps you can take to ensure your bedding stays clean and lasts for as long as possible. Here’s a rundown of the basics for caring for your sheets:
Wash your sheets – Most experts suggest you wash your bedding every week, but at least every two weeks is a good rule of thumb. A clean bed is a comfortable bed, and that helps with your sleep. Along those lines, avoid eating in bed, which can lead to crumbs and other food debris, which is not only uncomfortable but unsanitary.
Take a shower before bed – Showering before jumping into bed will help eliminate skin dandruff and keep your sheets fresher for a longer period of time. It’s also a good idea to use your bed as a place for sleeping, not watching TV or working from your computer or phone. Once again, your bed will stay cleaner, and your sheets will last longer.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing – All sheets come with the tag telling you how to best care for your bedding, but in general, you want to use the warm water setting. Using hot water can weaken the fibers on some sheets. Drying them on low or medium heat will also add to their longevity.
Keep two sets of sheets and pillowcases – You’ll wash the sheets more often if you know there’s a backup at the ready. How often do you need to replace the sheets? Again, this is largely a function of the quality of the sheets and the care you give them. Quality sheets should last you many years, but when they do start to look and feel worn out, it’s worth replacing them. You may not notice the gradual decline in quality, but once you get the new set, you’ll realize what you’ve been missing.
So give your sheets some thought. A good night’s sleep is worth the effort—and with some new, high-quality bedding, chances are you’ll have many more nights with sweet dreams.
Written by Jeff Banowetz for Matcha in partnership with 37.5.
Featured image provided by Gaelle Marcel