So now that you’ve made your bed, how comfortable is it to lie in? Did you know that the one activity you spend most of your life doing is sleeping?
On average one sleeps for 26 years of your life. Sleep impacts every aspect of our life, it affects the way we think, learn, behave, feel, and interact with others and is essential for our overall physical and mental well-being.
So, it is safe to assume that a great mattress and carefully chosen bed linen will contribute greatly to achieve a good night of sleep. So let us take a look at a few options you may need:
- Bottom sheet – fitted or flat
- Top sheet
- Duvet cover for duvet inner
- Pillow cases
- Duvet inners
Mattresses are made in a variety of sizes and thicknesses it is therefore crucial to check your measurements before purchasing any sheets. There are generally two types of bed sheets that come in all sizes, materials, weaves and thread count. There is a bottom sheet and a flat or top sheet.
This sheet, either flat or fitted, is the sheet that covers your mattress. Fitted sheets have four pockets for all the corners of the mattress, the elastic grippers in the pockets allow it to secure the sheet in place. When purchasing fitted sheets, the emphasis must be on getting the right size for your mattress.
The flat sheet is placed on top of the bottom or fitted sheet and under the blanket, comforter or quilt. Most believe that they’re not necessary, but they are great for making sure that an individual’s sweat does not reach the blanket. In some countries, a duvet cover takes the place of the top sheet.
An additional aspect to look at is the sheet’s pocket depth, there are standard and deep pocket sheets.
Standard pocket sheets are ideal for most mattresses. However, those that move a lot in their sleep may prefer to get deep pocket sheets to ensure that the sheets stay in place.
Sheets with deep pockets are for those who have an extra thick mattress or if you have a mattress topper.
A duvet cover encases and protects a duvet. It has an opening where a comforter or duvet is inserted then closed with either snap fasteners or a zip. A duvet cover generally comes in four styles:
Has an edge-to-edge seamed cover. This is the traditional style of hotel duvet cover that has an open end usually tucked under the mattress, making it easier to change.
It has an internal flap which closes the duvet inside and keeps it in place.
Shoulder or Tack
This is another variation of the standard bag or open bag style but shorter. Instead of having the open end tucked under the mattress, the corners of the cover have stitched shoulders which hold the duvet in place.
This has an extra ornately stitched border or frill around the entire duvet cover.
What is a pillowcase and what are the different types of pillowcases?
A pillowcase is used to cover a sleeping pillow and sometimes a decorative or bolster pillow. It’s usually a rectangular shape with an opening on one end where you insert the pillow. Just like mattresses, pillows come in a variety of sizes so it’s advisable to have the pillow measurements before buying the pillowcases.
Generally, there are four types of pillowcases:
Housewife pillowcases are the most common choice. It is an edge-to-edge pillowcase that fits to the contours of your pillow and is usually the one you sleep on.
Bag style pillowcases are extremely popular in the hospitality sector. Many hotels use this style as it allows housekeepers to easily change the bedding when time is an issue. The entrance to a bag style cover is completely open, with folding ends that can be tucked in.
Considered a more luxurious variation, Oxford pillowcases have a decorative stitched border around the edge. Wonderful for adding a touch of elegance, a traditional Oxford pillowcase features a mitred corner.
Also known as a Continental pillowcase, square pillowcases are frequently chosen for decorative purposes. Often combined with Housewife or Oxford pillowcases, square pillowcases complete the look of luxury in your interior.
Blankets are used for additional warmth. One may use a blanket on its own, or place a more attractive quilt, comforter, or duvet on top of it. Blankets are usually made of wool, cotton, polyester, microfiber plush, or a blend of fibres.
A comforter is a bed cover stuffed with fibres or down feathers for warmth and then sewn together on all four sides.They are available in a range of colours, patterns, and styles and are a key decorative accent in the bedroom. Most are made of either cotton or polyester.
A duvet is similar to a comforter except it requires a duvet cover, where a comforter does not. Usually, a duvet is solid white and stuffed with down or an alternative.
A bedspread is a thin, decorative covering that usually covers the entire bed reaching the floor. Cotton, chenille, wool, or polyester are common bedspread materials.
Once you have an idea of the bed linen items you require, other essential aspects to look at are the:
So let’s take a look at the available options starting with materials.
An important aspect to look at when choosing bed linen is the material it is made from. There are a variety of materials such as linen, cotton, lyocell, silk, polyester, bamboo and blends. All these materials, either made from natural fibres or synthetically, offer unique qualities which should be carefully considered before buying.
Made from the fibres of the flax plant, it is an absorbent and very strong material that can withstand even your roughest toddler. Linen is suitable for all seasons and is lauded for its coolness and cleanliness. It allows a lot of airflow through which is similar to that of a straight cotton sheet. Linen is however one of the most expensive materials, but will last for decades.
Cotton, made from the fibres surrounding the cotton seed, is one of the most widely used fabrics in the world and consequently the most common bed linen material. Cotton is valued for various attributes, its softness and relatively high tensile strength, its exceptional breathability, lightness and heat retention. Cotton is very water absorbent, but dries relatively quickly and can be washed in high heat. However, cotton material is prone to wrinkling and pilling and will shrink when washed unless it is exposed to a pre-treatment. Cotton’s Staple length refers to the length of the fibre, categorised as, Short-staple cotton, Long-Staple cotton and Extra-Long Staple cotton. The longer the staple, the higher the quality of the cotton and the softer, more durable the material will be. Some examples of cotton are: Egyptian, Pima, Supima, American Upland, Asiatic and Sea Island
Lyocell, also known as Tencel, is a semi-synthetic fabric more commonly used to substitute cotton or silk. It’s a type of rayon, comprising primarily of cellulose from wood. Lyocell is soft to the touch, generally most cannot detect the difference between lyocell and cotton. It is a very strong material whether wet or dry, and it is more resistant to pilling.
Silk is the strongest natural textile in the world. Most of the world’s silk is from Bombyx mori larvae, worms that only live on mulberry trees. Prized for thousands of years for its incredible softness and durability, silk, to this day, is still preferred over synthetic alternatives. The flat surface of the silk fibrils reflect light at many angles, giving silk a natural sheen. Silk’s absorbency makes it comfortable to use in warm weather yet Its low conductivity keeps warm air close to the skin during cold weather. Silk possesses good abrasion resistance as well as resistance to pilling.
Polyester is a synthetic material that’s usually made from petroleum and is one of the most widely-produced fabrics in the world. It’s very durable and is resistant to shrinking, stretching, wrinkling and abrasions. Polyester fibres are very strong and lightweight and are easy to dye, furthermore, it retains its shape very well. While some forms of polyester are biodegradable, most of them are not, making its production and use a contributor to pollution worldwide.
Bamboo fabric, made from the bamboo plant, generally refers to bamboo rayon, bamboo yarn, retting and bamboo linen. Bamboo material shimmers like silk and is very soft. Due to its hollow fibre, it has unusual breathing capabilities, the fibre is filled with micro gaps, allowing for better moisture absorption and ventilation. Bamboo material is naturally hypoallergenic, very breathable, moisture-wicking, fast drying and thermal regulating and is also anti-static so it doesn’t cling.
Unfortunately, most types of bamboo fabrics are made using a chemical process which is harmful to the environment. There is an environmentally friendly bamboo fabric, generally known as bamboo linen, made by a mechanical process. The yarn produced mechanically usually has a silky texture that is strong, long-lasting and is of the highest quality.
When choosing your material, it is also important to take note of the weave as it creates different textures, looks & feels.
Let’s take a look at some of the common weaves:
A plain weave that differs from standard cotton due to a combing process ensuring the loose fibres are combed off. It has a firm, smooth finish and higher quality feel that rarely requires ironing.
Flannel cotton is constructed with a plain or twill weave, making them softer and more pliant than many other weave options. Flannel traps body heat, keeping you toasty while you sleep.
Intricate weave that has extra threads on the surface, creating a wonderful silky feel and satin-like finish.
Usually made from a mix of fibres, satin has a soft and subtle sheen and is perfect if you like silky sheets.
A highly textured look, creates has a striking grid or honeycomb design made from recessed squares.
Jacquard is woven on a special loom to create a multi-dimensional pattern of sateen (which is raised threads) and matt (which is flat), usually in a stripe, check or floral design.
Simply put, the thread count is the number of threads per square inch of fabric. These consist of vertical threads (warp) and horizontal threads (weft) woven together. It’s a common mistake to assume that a higher thread count means a better quality fabric. In fact, it is the fineness of the yarn that is more significant. On average thread counts range from as low as 144 to as high as 800 plus.
What about single or two ply? Two-ply fabrics are woven more loosely than single-ply, making it rougher and less durable, therefore, you’re more likely to enjoy a single-ply sheet.