After a long, hard day at work or, better yet, play, there’s nothing better than slipping into some cool, crisp, comfy sheets. Then again, one person’s comfy sheets are another’s nightmare. It used to be for most of us that you’d walk into your favorite store, pick out the pattern you wanted and you’re off. Now, there are so many choices, how do you know what to buy, what’s going to give you the best night’s sleep and better yet, does it make a difference? Let’s take a look.
Admit it though – most of us don’t really care about our sheets as long as the bottom sheet stays put through a night of tossing and turning and we don’t wake up sweating because of the sheet material. Some would say it’s because you haven’t tried 8000-thread-count sheets (they don’t make them that tight, but you catch my drift).
The first thing to remember is that buying sheets is purely a matter of personal taste and where you live, so you have to decide how you want your sheets to feel – soft and comfy or cool and smooth? Living in Central and South Texas, you’re less likely to want flannel sheets than if you live in Massachusetts or Oregon. The decision then becomes cotton versus silk versus flannel versus jersey versus microfiber, cotton blend versus 100% cotton, high thread count versus whatever is cheapest.
The most confusing question has to do with thread count. Thread count is the number of threads per inch of material – the higher the thread count, the more expensive the sheets are. Sheets under 150 thread count are more likely to pill and fall apart than sheets above 300. Some sheets, like microfiber and flannel, don’t have thread counts, but most other types do. Then again, it has to do with personal taste, comfort and budget. The cost difference between 250 thread count and 500 thread count can be surprising, if you don’t normally spend a lot on your sheets.
What’s the difference between 100% cotton and a cotton blend? For starters, 100% cotton sheets wrinkle like crazy. A cotton blend (cotton with polyester) gives the breathability of cotton without the wrinkling and provides longer use. Microfiber sheets tend to wrinkle less and keep cool in the summer, warm in the winter.
Another consideration is whether the sheets will shrink once they’re out of the package. There’s nothing worse than buying a new set of sheets that look great on your bed only to have them shrink up a size after the first wash; then you’re fighting the fitted sheet as it pops out from under the mattress every time you turn over. If the sheets are 100% cotton, make sure they’re pre-shrunk. Cotton blends shrink less but whenever you’re dealing with cotton, there’s bound to be some shrinkage. Most microfiber sheets don’t shrink at all. Look for extra-large mattress pockets, large enough to accommodate your mattress plus a mattress topper.
After that, your budget comes into play again. Egyptian cotton is more expensive than just regular cotton; linen sheets are the top of the line but are a washing, wrinkling nightmare.
Bottom line – even if you’re on a tight budget, it is possible to buy comfortable, long-wearing sheets that give you a little feel of luxury. Just look for the highest thread count you can afford, a cotton/poly blend or microfiber if you don’t want wrinkled sheets and longer wear with a pattern you like. And if you live where it gets cold in winter, definitely opt for the flannel; there’s nothing better on a cold night than to snuggle up with soft flannel sheets.