Bedding 101: Preparing for a Good Night’s Sleep

The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night, which means most people end up spending close to a third of the day’s hours in bed. You should make it count, right? The quality of sleep impacts your daytime concentration, energy, and overall health, so it makes sense that you should optimize your sleep time with the most comfortable products available. That means paying attention to your bedding, which can make a big difference in achieving a peaceful sleep.

Bedding manufacturers use a lot of numbers—some are helpful, some are not—to try and convince you to choose their product. Here are some tips for cutting through the hype and finding bedding to help you get a restful sleep every night.

What Should You Look For in Bedsheets?

Let’s start with the materials. Cotton is most widely available, and it comes in a wide range of colors and thread counts—generally, the higher the thread count, the softer the sheet. Percale is a type of cotton with a tighter weave and a higher thread count, and sateen is made from long-fibre cotton strands, treated to give them a more luxurious feel. Flannel sheets, which are made for colder climates, don’t usually list thread count, but are instead categorized by weight. Flannel can be made from wool blends, cotton, or synthetic fibers, with all strands loosely knitted and cozily soft and warm. Bamboo sheets are also rising in popularity—but keep an eye out for eco-friendly harvesting and construction. The different varieties of bamboo sheets include bamboo rayon, bamboo sateen, and bamboo twill.

Some sheets are made with a combination of natural materials and a high-tech process to give users an even better sleep experience. Bedding made with 37.5 Technology can help you better regulate your body temperature throughout sleep. Active particles permanently embedded within the fibers of the bedding help capture and release moisture vapor, which in turn delays or even prevents liquid sweat from building up. Conversely, when you’re cold, the particles capture and return your Infrared Energy to help warm you up. The Sleep Number True Temp sheet set is an excellent example of 37.5 Technology in action. Another benefit of 37.5 Technology is that the active particles are woven into the fabric, meaning that the performance will not fade away with washing or time. It will work for as long as you own the sheets.

What Does Thread Count Mean?

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The thread count of a sheet refers to the number of threads sewn into one square inch of fabric.

37.5 Technology

Thread count refers to the actual number of threads that are sewn into one square inch of fabric. In general, the higher the thread count, the higher the quality of the sheets, with a few exceptions based on the style of weave. Most people will be fine with a thread count between 200-500 for cotton sheets, such as the Sleepsmart 37.5 Cotton Sheet Set from Pottery Barn. Percale sheets will feel the nicest between 400 to 500 thread count. A denser weave of the horizontal and vertical threads will yield a thread count up to 800 or higher, but these sheets will not be as breathable. In general, most people won’t be disappointed with thread counts between 200-800 for all fibers and weaves. This will yield a durable, breathable, and soft sheet with a good next-to-skin feel.

How Do You Predict the Durability of Sheets?

Take a close look at the description and materials on your sheets. Despite popular opinions, the quality of the fibers and the type of weave matter just as much as the thread count. Pure cotton sheets are easy to clean, and within that category, long-fiber cotton is less likely to pill. Most cotton sheets are a plain weave, percale is a higher-end plain weave, and sateen has more vertical than horizontal threads. This means that sateen sheets feel softer and more luxurious, but they can be more apt to pill or rip.

How Should You Store Bedding?

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When storing your sheets, choose a linen bag to allow air to circulate while keeping them free from dust.

37.5 Technology

It’s not uncommon to change your sheets from season to season. In the summer, you want a light cotton or sateen set, like the Sheex Microbalance 37.5 Performance Sheet Set from Bed, Bath & Beyond. In the cold weather, having a set of flannel sheets for more insulation can be welcome. Before storing your sheets, make sure they are freshly laundered and completely dried to avoid any mustiness from developing in the linen closet. The less light the better, and a fabric-friendly storage option is your best bet. A linen bag or sealed chest will help prevent dust from accumulating. Avoid plastic bags to allow the sheets access to air circulation, and steer clear from cardboard, which can make your white sheets turn yellow.

How Often Do You Need to Wash Your Sheets, and When Should They Be Replaced?

Most experts recommend washing your sheets once a week, but twice a month is also acceptable, especially for people who shower before bed. Unwashed sheets build up body oils and dead skin, which can lead to dust mites. Keeping at least two sets of sheets per bed is a good way to ensure freshness, and all sheets should be replaced every 2-3 years—even with rotation. Frequent washing can wear down the fibers, make the sheets feel starchy, and it’s just a good habit to be in for general health and cleanliness. Another option to help with your sleep is to use a mattress topper, which can give you better comfort and support than a mattress alone. The NovaForm LURAcor Support 3” Foam Mattress Topper uses an advanced foam to help align your back properly—and it features a cover with 37.5 Technology to help keep you at the right temperature.

Getting a good night’s sleep makes all areas of your day better. Take the time to consider all the options when it comes to bedding and choose bedding that is going to make your sleep time pleasant and comfortable. You’ll never regret it.

Written by Matcha for 37.5.

Featured image provided by Brianna Santellan