What kind of bed linen and sheets should I choose?
There's nothing like the feel of snuggling into bed for a good night's sleep. Our beds are our sanctuaries, and the right sheet sets, bed linens and quilt covers are the essential components you need to create a calming cocoon.
There are a lot of options these days when it comes to dressing your bed, and it's important to choose what's best for you and your family.
Cotton is the staple of most bed sheets and bed linens, and it's a favourite for a reason - it's a natural, breathable fibre that lasts well and offers premium levels of comfort. Cotton sheets are usually easy on the skin but, if you or your family has known allergies or sensitivities, make sure you look for sheets made from natural cotton fibres. Not all cotton is created equal - there are variations in quality.
Egyptian cotton is famous for its long and flexible fibres, celebrated for delivering both luxury and durability. It's usually the most expensive thread type for bed linen but it feels so good and lasts so well that many fans think it's worth the extra investment.
Pima cotton is another high quality cotton and a popular choice for bed linen. It comes from Peru and is made with medium-to-extra-long fibres that are known for their softness and sheen. Pima cotton is often referred to by its trademarked name: Supima.
Natural linen sheets are thick and strong, making them feel heavier and crisper than cotton bed sheets (especially when first purchased). Linen is excellent at absorbing moisture, so it's a great choice for those who tend to heat up at night, or if you live in a hot climate.
Flannel or flannelette
In contrast to cotton, flannel or flannelette sheets are perfect for people who tend to feel cold in bed. Flannel is a type of cotton that has been 'fluffed up' to create an extra soft texture. It has a nap (texture and a pile) that helps retain body heat, which creates that warm and cosy feel people commonly associate with flannelette sheets.
Just like bamboo quilt or doona fillings, bamboo sheets are growing in popularity, due to their breathability and silky soft feel against the skin.
Organic bamboo is hypoallergenic but, take note, many bamboo bed sheets and linens are actually bamboo rayon - a manufactured fibre constructed from cellulose that has been treated with chemicals. If you have allergies, note the contents carefully to ensure no adverse reactions.
Polyester or synthetic
Polyester or synthetic sheets are a budget-friendly option for bed linens. Polyester is a man-made fibre that's easy to wash and wrinkle-resistant.
These sheets are also highly durable and can manage stains well but they don't repel moisture as well as other types of material. This means they may not be the ideal choice if you get hot during the evening.
The weave of your sheets and bed linen - that is, the way the threads are stitched together - is another factor that determines their feel against your skin and how much enjoyment you'll get from sleeping in them. Bear in mind, weave is different to the actual material or fabric your bed linen is made from, but it does have an impact on the quality.
The two most common types of weave are percale and sateen. Percale is typically the weave you'll find in cotton sheets - tightly woven with a cool, crisp feel. Sateen sheets are densely woven, and extra smooth and soft.
The thread count of sheets is the number of threads woven together to make up one square inch of fabric. Most of us have been taught that a higher thread count means a better quality of sheet and, while technically that's true, the thread count number can be a little deceiving.
There is a finite amount of threads that fit into one square inch of fabric, and experts contend that number is generally around 400. If a thread count is over 400 - and some are listed over 1,000 - it usually means the manufacturers have twisted together a higher number of thinner strands of fibre to multiple the number used. Accordingly, the thread count goes up significantly but the actual quality does not.
So, remember, while thread count does play a role in helping you choose your sheets, it's not as all-important as it may have once seemed.
Once you have chosen your sheets, you'll want a quilt cover set to complete your ensemble and update the look of your bedroom.
As with sheets, quilt covers are available in a wide variety of materials - that includes cotton, linen, flannel, bamboo and synthetic. The same principles apply for these materials as with sheets but quilts and bed toppers usually see more wear and tear, especially if you have young ones or pets that stop by for a play or a nap. Make sure you factor in ease of washing and durability if your bedroom covers are likely to see a lot of family action.
Quilt covers with low-to-medium thread counts tend to be better at regulating temperature and allowing airflow. So, if you're worried about getting too hot but need some warmth and protection, opt for a lower count.
Whatever bed linen you choose, you'll need to take care of it to make it last. Read our guide about caring for bed linen and sheets, so you get the most value for your money, and enjoy the qualities of your bed linen and sheets for as long as possible.