There are many factors to consider when trying to get a better night’s sleep. The right mattress, the right diet, the right lifestyle. Another factor, often overlooked: finding the best bedding. Thread count and infused mattress toppers may not seem like significant changes, but once everything is put together, they could determine how comfortably you sleep. For example, sheets can either promote breathability (leading to a cool, peaceful sleeping environment) or restrict airflow (leading to a hot, tossing-and-turning sleeping experience). Pillows can support the neck and complement the natural curve of the spine, or they can make a great mattress feel unsupportive and uncomfortable. To help, we’ve created this comprehensive list of bed sheets, blankets, comforters, duvets, mattress protectors and pads, toppers, and pillows in order to educate customers and help them achieve the best sleep possible by exploring all available options. Let’s begin!
Bed sheets are the basic forms of cover and comfort when it comes to your mattress. Most people get their sheets from a department store, however, online shopping has lead to luxury sheets being available at more affordable prices. Sheet sets generally include a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and two standard pillowcases. Bed sheets come in a variety of different materials:
- Cotton – one of the most popular choices, cotton is a breathable, all-natural material that becomes softer after each wash. Types of cotton include Egyptian, Pima, and Upland.
- Lyocell-Tencel® – this non-organic material is an eco-friendly option that mimics the softness of cotton. It’s also very strong and resistant to aging.
- Linen – with its rustic appearance, linen runs naturally cool and gets softer after each wash.
- Silk – breathable and light, silk hardly wrinkles and feels luxuriously soft. It is also known as one of the strongest natural fibers.
- Polyester – this soft and synthetic material is usually blended with other fabrics such as cotton and rayon. Polyester tends to be more durable than other materials.
- Microfiber – finely woven materials made from polyester and nylon make up this lightweight material.
- Bamboo – a synthetic rayon-viscose fiber, this material is hypoallergenic, soft, and durable.
The best bed sheets provide breathability and comfort. Sheets are generally machine-washable, and easy to care for. When purchasing sheets, consider the weave and thread count. Why? Weave will determine the strength and appearance of the sheet, while thread count can decide how dense a sheet will be. This will affect the breathability aspect. There are five main weaves:
- Percale (plain) – this criss-cross weave leaves material soft with a matte look.
- Sateen – smooth, wrinkle-resistant with a higher shine, this weave is looser than percale.
- Twill – diagonal pattern that makes material more water and air resistant.
- Flannel – a tight weave that’s great for wicking away moisture.
- Jersey – produces a soft, t-shirt-like material.
Blankets are placed between the top sheet (flat sheet) and the comforter for added warmth. They’re sized differently than mattresses in order to overlap on the sides of the bed. Blankets can be made from the following material:
- Fleece – warm and dense wool alternative
- Wool – wicks away moisture and a durable, temperature-neutralizing option
- Acrylic – a lighter, hypoallergenic alternative to wool
- Polyester – same softness and durability as cotton, but less expensive
- Cotton – lightweight and cool
- Cashmere – shares similar properties with wool, but more expensive
Weighted blankets are becoming increasingly more popular due to the comforting pressure it provides in relieving stress and anxiety. The amount of weight can range from 5 to 30 pounds.
The heated blanket provides an even distribution of heat through small wires that are spread throughout internally.
Lighter than a standard blanket, the throw is usually placed on top of couches and chairs in the living room areas.
Usually crocheted with large gaps in the stitching, afghans are made more for decor rather than for providing heat.
Comforters are the American version of the European duvet. They are the top layer that completes a bed. Stitching holds together layers of fabric filled with materials such as down, feathers, or synthetic fibers. Comforters tend to have less stuffing and lie flatter on the bed than a duvet. Unless specifically mentioned, comforters are not machine-washable. A nice money-saving perk in choosing a comforter over a duvet is that most comforters come in bedding sets, including bed sheets and pillowcases. They also come in various designs and colors, consisting of the following materials:
Duvet & Duvet Covers
The European version to the American comforter, duvets are different in a few ways. Unlike the comforter, a duvet should have a duvet cover. What makes the duvet so versatile is that the cover can be switched out. Additionally, a top sheet is not required since the duvet cover acts as the top sheet. When it comes to cleaning, most duvet covers are machine washable. However, duvets often need special washing such as dry cleaning, though some can be cleaned through the washing machine and air dried. If heavily stained or damaged, duvets may need to be replaced. Duvets may be stuffed with the following fillings:
- Down/Down Alternative
Duvet covers are made using different materials and are secured around the duvet via ties, buttons, or zippers. These materials include:
- Bamboo Rayon
- Organic Materials
When it comes to choosing between comforters and duvets, typically it all comes down to the customer’s preference. While comforters come in a variety of styles and colors, in addition to being sold in complete sets, it lacks the option of switching out the cover. Covers can be switched out and purchased at a lower price versus the purchase of a whole new comforter. Also, duvet covers can easily be placed in the washing machine. Convenience-wise, some customers choose comforters for simplicity – when duvet covers are switched out or cleaned, stuffing the duvet back into the cover can be slightly difficult. Also, comforters can act like a duvet and be placed inside a duvet cover.
Mattress protectors are just that; they are designed to protect mattresses from wear and tear, spills and stains, dust mites, and bed bugs. They provide a healthier sleep environment. There are two types of mattress protectors; a zippered mattress encasement and a fitted sheet style protection. The zippered mattress encasement is the equivalent of placing the whole bed inside of a sealed bag, while the fitted sheet style has an elastic band that secures the top and sides of the protector. Unlike with the zippered version, the fitted style will not protect the bottom of the mattress. Mattress protectors can come in different fabrics:
- Cotton – provides a breathable, cooling sleeping experience that’s naturally hypoallergenic
- Polyester – durable and comfortable, this fabric is easy to wash and offers the greatest protection
- Tencel® Lyocell – eco-friendly, moisture-wicking, and ideal for those with sensitive skin
- Plush Velour – similar to velvet, a luxurious option for warm, dry comfort
- Bamboo – naturally hypoallergenic, providing soothing comfort to sensitive sleepers
- Cooling – composed of fabrics that neutralize body heat and provide a cooling sensation for those who sleep hot or prefer a cooler temperature.
- Waterproof – prevents liquids from seeping into the mattress. There are two types:
- Polyurethane – thin and flexible membrane that provides air flow but still protects against liquids and pests. Cooler and quieter option.
- Vinyl/Plastic – a thick barrier providing effective protection against liquids and pets. Not as breathable resulting in increased heat and can be noisy from sleep movement.
No matter which option you choose, always make sure your mattress is properly covered and protected. Mattress protectors and pads are designed for wear and tear. Adding a mattress protector to your bedding will promote a night of healthier sleep and a longer-lasting mattress. It will also help prevent pests and allergic reactions.
Unlike mattress protectors and pads, toppers consist of a thicker material that rests on top of the mattress. While mattress pads offer protection, toppers add extra cushioning. Toppers can be especially useful for guest beds and camper beds. Mattress toppers can also be used to offer better comfort and support. Cooling toppers are typically used to reduce temperature, preventing heat traps that could happen from the mattresses. They also provide a comfortable sleep experience. Materials like latex, gel-infused memory foam, feathers, and wool are generally used to create cooling toppers to improve airflow and heat absorption. Another major component to mattress toppers are PCMs. PCMs, or phase change materials, are designed to absorb heat until a certain temperature is reached to maintain an even, comfortable temperature throughout the night. If your current mattress is sleeping hot, and you are unable to completely replace the mattress, consider getting a cooling topper as a temporary solution.
Pillows are the last item in completing a bedding set. Finding the right pillow doesn’t have to be a tricky affair if customers know what to look for. Customers should look at their weight, head size, shoulder width, and sleep position in choosing the right pillow. Also consider if the customer suffers from chronic pain, as some pillows can help ease discomfort. Types of pillow include:
- Feather – soft and supportive
- Down & Down Alternative- ultimate softness and malleability
- Latex – absorbs heat and maintains its shape
- Natural & Organic – absorbs less heat and offers comfort and support
- Polyester Polyfoam – hypoallergenic and supportive with little to no odor
- Memory foam – adjusts to your weight as you move
- Microbead – firm support
- Buckwheat – plant-based, firm support
- Neck – supports the spine
- Body – hip and lower back support, ideal during pregnancy
- Lumbar – provides support and relieves lower back pain
- Wedge – multi-use from relieving the discomfort of varicose veins to easing acid reflux
- Sleep apnea – ideal for those who sleep with a CPAP machine
Pillow price can range from $10-$15 for cheaper, department store options to over $200 for high-end down pillows. A couple of other factors to consider when shopping for a pillow are size and loft. Pillow sizes include:
- Super Standard
Most customers choose the standard pillow size if sleeping in a Twin/Full mattress. Some who sleep on a queen-size mattress will also use a couple of standard pillows. Super Standard pillows are slightly longer than Standard. Queen and King sizes are a great match to their corresponding mattress sizes. Also, they are ideal for those who move around in their sleep. Euro is square-shaped, used to support the upper body when reading in bed and, true to its name, in Europe also used for sleep. Body pillows are best for side sleepers, those who like to cuddle, and those who are pregnant.
Loft refers to the thickness or height of a pillow. There are three sizes of loft; low, medium, and high. Choosing the correct loft depends on a person’s sleep position, pillow position, body weight, body type, and mattress type. It all comes down to ensuring spinal alignment, support, and ultimately, personal preference. According to Web MD, pillows typically last about 18 months. If a pillow doesn’t spring back into shape after it’s folded in half, it might be time for a replacement.
The best sleep involves the correct amount of bedding. This includes sheets, blankets, comforters or duvets, mattress protectors and pads, mattress toppers, and pillows. Though there are many different types and materials, finding the right combination is all based on personal preference and how you sleep. Always consider sleep position and weight as these factors can determine the level of support needed for the best sleep.
It’s important to note that a complete bed also adds the best protection on top of comfort and support. According to Sleep Savvy, many consumers don’t use protectors, pads, toppers, or comforters/duvets. Instead, they only use the bedsheets with an occasional blanket. While this may seem minor (after all if that’s what they’re comfortable with, then they’re good, right?), this does put them at greater risk for bed bugs, dust mites, allergic reactions, and damage to the mattress. Why risk ruining a perfectly good mattress? Always ensure proper bedding to prevent these risks from occurring. Plus, as we discussed above, proper bedding also adds comfort and support.