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Until you’ve tried out different types of sheets, you may never realize just how impactful they are to a good night’s sleep. Of course, the type and quality of your mattress matters, too, but your skin serves as a thermoregulator for your body, explained Erum Ilyas, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and functional textile expert. “If your bedsheets are not supporting your skin’s ability to do its job, you will find your sleep may not be as restful,” she said.
LEARN MORE Types of sheets and materials
The feel of the sheet against your skin in terms of softness or comfort can contribute to how “aware” you are of your skin, too. “When your mind is finally at rest from the stresses of the day, it has the ability to focus more on your skin,” Ilyas said. “To avoid aggravating this tendency, softer sheets can make a world of difference.”
But fabric that feels smooth enough to wrap yourself in for eight hours a night isn’t the only shopping priority. There’s a wide range of materials to consider, each with its own unique benefits, said Kobi Karp, the principal at Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design.
“Some are better for keeping you warm on winter nights, others are light and breathable for hot summer weather,” said Karp, who’s designed luxury interiors for celebrity homes in Miami and the One Hotel. “At the end of the day, it will come down to personal preference as much as anything else.”Other factors that Karp suggests taking into consideration include: cost, durability, wrinkle resistance, weight, temperature regulation, moisture-wicking properties, hypo-allergenic properties and ease of care.
“The right sheets can go so far to making your bedroom feel like a relaxing retreat, which is something we are all looking for a little more nowadays as we're home so much,” she added.
Top-rated bed sheets of 2021
Based on guidance from the experts we consulted, here are some of bedsheets worth considering right now, from cozy flannel to cooling bamboo, as well as some specific recommendations from experts.
Affordable sheet set: LuxClub
More than 71,000 reviewers on Amazon have given this anti-pill set a 4.5-star average rating. Georgina Borneman-Street, the CEO and principal designer at Cobalt Blue 1802, told us it’s her favorite set of percale sheets. The bamboo viscose fabric is blended with microfiber and, according to the brand, is softer than jersey. Due to the percale weave, these wrinkle-free and hypoallergenic sheets also help regulate temperature to keep you cool.
Sheets to keep you warm: Boll & Branch
Available in a range of colors and prints, this flannel bedding is popular among the experts we consulted for its softness and warmth. Not only is it 100-percent organic but its fabric isFair Trade Certified, GOTS Certified and Oeko-TEX certified. “These sheets are luxurious, impressively soft and have a great weighted feel to them,” said Karp.
Cooling sheet set: PeachSkinSheets
Designed for warm sleepers who sweat at night, these hypoallergenic sheets are known for temperature control abilities. Newhart told us that these are her personal favorites to sleep with. France recommended them for the same reason, adding that they’re “hands down the best all-around sheets for hot sleepers.” These durable sheets are also pill- and wrinkle-resistant, antimicrobial and moisture-wicking — they feature a 1500 thread count.
Bamboo and splurge sheet set: Cozy Earth
This lightweight set of bamboo sheets isn’t just one of Oprah’s Favorite Things, it’s also recommended by multiple experts we consulted. Made of 100-percent viscose sourced in bamboo fabric, this set is chemical free instead of made from rayon, breathable, hypoallergenic and comes with a 30-day trial with free returns (shipping isn’t covered). “These are a bit more of an investment up front, but if you’re in a position to do so, I highly recommend them,” said Borneman-Street. “Because bamboo is so durable, they’ll also stand the test of time, whether they’re being used in a guest bedroom or in a main bedroom.”
Percale sheet set: Brooklinen
Made with a 270 thread count weave, these breathable sheets are designed to offer a hotel sheets feel and are available in a range of 11 color-and-print options. Although Brooklinen recommends you line-dry these sheets, they can be put in a dryer on low, are made with 100-percent cotton and carry the OEKO TEX certification. “These are supersoft,” noted Ilyas. “Percale also carries the cool, crisp feel that is great for hot sleepers.”
Sateen sheet set: Nordstrom
Available in four soothing colors, this set of machine-washable organic cotton, sateen sheets brings a buttery-smooth feel to your bedroom linens. They are 100 percent organic cotton, Global Organic Textile Standard certified, have a high thread count at 400 and are sateen for the weave. “These sheets have a luxurious look and feel and cover multiple categories,” said Ilyas. “Breathable, durable, comfortable and look luxurious.”
Flannel sheet set: Garnet Hill
Borneman-Street said that she particularly loves this cotton flannel set because it offers the appearance of “normal” sheets while still providing the warmth and comfort of flannel. “When we think of flannel sheets, what comes to mind for many is the old school, plaid flannel you might find in a cabin. Aesthetically, that can be a turn-off for some, but these flannel sheets actually have a really luxe look and feel,” she explained. “They’re made from extra-long staple cotton, which makes these sheets super soft — almost velvety — and they definitely have a more modern look and feel.”
Jersey sheet set: Amazon Basics
Newhart is impressed with this heather jersey sheet set’s lightweight-meets-T-shirt soft feel. The machine-washable set is also made in an Oeko-TEX-certified factory with 100-percent cotton, which Ilyas noted isn’t always the case for jersey sets. “If you are seeking 100 percent cotton, be sure to check the label as the composition can vary across the brand,” she added.
Linen sheet set: Brooklinen
Similar to bamboo, linen can be a bit of an investment up front, noted Borneman-Street — with this set, you will “definitely get your money’s worth,” she said. “Brooklinen actually washes and dyes their linen sheet sets in small batches, so they are certified for chemical safety, making them a great choice for sensitive skin.”
Lindsay France, a stylist and former Textile Technologist for Ralph Lauren and Victoria's Secret, agreed that “these linen sheets from Brooklinen really hit all the marks.” “They are a washed, 100-percent linen that gives it that perfect lived-in feel with little shrinkage after washing, she said.
Microfiber sheet set: Mellanni
These low-maintenance microfiber sheets are made from 100-percent polyester with an 1800 thread count — upwards of 205,500 reviewers on Amazon have given this set a 4.5-star average rating. Available in 42 different colors, this brushed microfiber bedding also comes in 11 size options from Twin XL to Split King. Not only are machine-washable (on cold), but also these velvety soft sheets are fade-, stain-, shrink- and wrinkle-resistant for easy care, making them more durable than cotton, according to the brand.
Sheets that are breathable and stylish: My Sheets Rock
For those who prefer to sleep in their birthday suits, these cooling bamboo rayon sheets wick away moisture and “minimize your natural man-scent,” according to the brand. This lightweight bedding with a soft stretch also helps reduce humidity and is available in a bold color palette with ten options. The company also offers a free shipping and a 90-day free trial with full refund if you don’t end up loving their sheets.
Bamboo twill sheets (rayon): Brooklyn Bedding
Made from bamboo twill, these breathable sheets have the softness of rayon with a sheen finish. They are also hypoallergenic properties and promote an antimicrobial sleep environment that’s gentle on sensitive skin, according to the brand. The temperature-regulating material is also moisture-wicking to help maintain ideal body temperature and is machine-washable. They’re available in four colors and eight sizes, and comes with a 30-day free trial.
How to shop for bed sheets
The secret to successfully sifting through endless options and choosing the perfect sheets, according to Newhart, is to think of what you're looking for across different categories:
- Look and feel. Consider if you want a fabric that feels heavy (flannel) or light (microfiber); sheets with a glossy finish (silk/sateen) or a matte fabric (percale); something that feels thick and looks tailored (sateen) or a fabric that feels stretchy and comfy like your favorite tee (jersey).
- Comfort level. The two main considerations here are temperature regulation and moisture-wicking. “We sweat as we sleep, which can help release toxins or keep us cool, so finding the right sheet set that wicks away moisture appropriately for your body is key,” she said. “Sheets also vary in their ability to keep us warm — overall higher thread count sheets are going to be warmer since the weave is tighter.”
- Care and durability. Think about whether you’d not have to worry about ironing your sheets (flannel/microfiber) or if you don’t mind the maintenance if it means a crisp and tailored look (linen). Also consider if you want your sheets to feel amazing now, even though they might wear over time and need replaced sooner (sateen /jersey) or if you prefer a sheet set that is durable, but may take a while to break in and feel extra soft (linen/percale).
- Thread count. Pro tip: don't buy sheets based on thread count alone, Newhart told us. “It used to mean a lot back in simpler times when more threads equaled higher quality fabric,” she explained. “But fabric innovations have come so far that thread count should be a consideration that's way far down on the list.”What matters more is the type of thread. “A sheet of a better-quality fiber with a lower thread count will feel softer and stand up to washing better than a sheet of a lower-quality fiber with a higher thread count,” added Karp.
- Oeko-TEX certification. This certification checks materials for harmful substances and facilities involved in manufacturing a product, ranking factors like environmental friendliness and workplace safe and social responsibility. “The goal of this certification process is to try to add another level of consumer confidence for a growing concern about textiles, human health and our environment,” Ilyas said. “I consider this one more bonus to look for.”
- Organic material. Cotton is increasingly popular since it is grown without toxic or synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. “However, to be labeled as organic, the only criteria to meet is to utilize USDA certified organic crops in production,” Ilyas explained. “The word organic can still be ascribed to cotton that utilizes certified organic crops even if it has been chemically modified with finishes or dyes.” If your goal is to buy organic cotton sheets to avoid added chemicals in the production process, she suggested looking for undyed organic cotton to meet your goals.
Types of materials
When you’re looking for a new set of bedsheets, two of the main features you’ll come across are the sheet’s fabric and its weave.
Bed sheets: weave
The weave refers to how these fibers are brought together, which impacts how the sheet feels.
Percale, typically found in hotel rooms, is a type of textile weave that gives fabric a crisp look and feel. “These sheets are cool and crispy and lovely to slide into — like a cool, cotton button-down shirt,” said Jennifer Porter, a garment designer and manufacturer in Seattle. “The higher the thread count, the more luxurious the feel, with limited pilling and good durability.”
Typically made from 100-percent cotton, percale sheets usually have a matte-like finish since the weave doesn’t take on the shine of sateen or other cotton weaves, explained Ilyas. “Due to the construction, the fabric is lightweight and very breathable,” she said. “These sheets are also durable through multiple washes.”
Percale sheets are a great option for those who sleep hot or live in warmer, more humid environments. “I also have many patients that sleep with a humidifier on for eczema and other skin conditions and tend to find that percale is a good option here too because some patients will feel like their sheets feel damp if they choose a different weave or blend,” she said.
Although these machine-washable sheets are low maintenance and typically break in over time, Newhart does note an important con: “Low quality percale sheets can feel stiff and they wrinkle easily, especially if you go with a high thread count.”
Sateen is another type of weave where cotton threads are tightly woven in the same style as silk. “This gives it a glossy look, which can look luxurious and has a soft feel,” explained Newhart. “Sateen sheets are a little warmer overall so they’re great for colder climates or people who sleep cold, and are my personal favorite since they have a buttery smooth feel.” Karp noted that “sateen sheets resist mildew, making them a good choice for anyone suffering from allergies.”
One downside to sateen is that the sheets’ sheen can fade overtime with washes. However,
The fabric refers to a textile’s thread, be it cotton, linen, bamboo or silk
Jersey sheets are made primarily of 100-percent cotton or cotton blends with synthetic fibers and are knit like T-shirts, Ilyas explained. “The construction of the jersey is knit, not woven, and just like a T-shirt, jersey is soft and breathable,” she said. “It is meant for warmer climates as it keeps your skin a little cooler but they’re not as durable as sateen or percale, given the knit construction.”
To Newhart, these sheets feel like sleeping in your favorite T-shirt but there are some potential drawbacks worth flagging. “These sheets aren't eco-friendly since the process for producing synthetic fibers has many environmental consequences,” she said. “They are super prone to shrinking, which can be helped by washing in cold water — but that’s not very hygienic — and they aren't exactly trendy, since they're well known as the go-to for college bedding.”
Linen is a classic bedding option that’s a natural material made from the flax plant’s fibers — if you aren’t afraid of some extra ironing. It is breathable, long-lasting, very durable and great for moisture-wicking. However, they are very wrinkle prone and “can feel rough until it softens over time — and that can take a while,” said Newhart. Plus, "it can potentially pill and create lint easily.”
But linen is considered an eco-friendly product given its recyclable and biodegradable qualities, noted Ilyas. “In the medical literature, linen has also been shown to have antimicrobial and wound-healing properties,” she said. “Its lightweight quality also makes it a favorable option for those that tend to get ‘overheated’ at night.”
Flannel sheets are the ideal option for cold weather to keep sleepers cozy all night because they hold onto body heat despite a loose weave that helps them stay breathable. This heavier bedding can be composed of cotton, cotton blends, wool or made of other synthetics but it is typically cotton that has been "fluffed up" for added softness, according to Newhart.
Although flannel does not wrinkle easily, it can pill easily as fluffy fibers form fuzzballs.
Bamboo sheets are soft, durable, silky, breathable and oftentimes more expensive. This material is available in different weaves like sateen and percale, and is also antibacterial as well as hypoallergenic.
“They wick moisture away instead of absorbing it, so they do not discolor over time as much as materials like cotton,” said Karp. The only thing to watch out for in purchasing bamboo sheets is that most bed sheets labeled as bamboo are actually rayon, explained Karp. “This is a material created by turning the bamboo into pulp, dissolving it with chemicals and then re-solidifying it and turning it into a thread,” he said. “So, while the idea of using bamboo sheets sounds environmentally-friendly, it is quite the opposite.”
However, Newhart noted that some companies do use a chemical-free process, you just have to be on the lookout for it to avoid any “eco-friendly” misrepresentation.
Not all cotton sheets are the same, explained Ilyas, as they vary greatly in how they feel against your skin based on the construction, weave and thread count of the textiles. Each type of cotton — Tencel, Egyptian cotton, Organic cotton, Pima cotton, American Upland — puts out a different feel. “Blends with polyester and other materials make these sheets a little more wrinkle-resistant and softer to touch,” she said.
But before deciding on cotton, she suggests considering your preferences when it comes to warmth overnight. “Many of my patients that struggle with hot flashes in the middle of the night may find cotton sheets more likely to trap in moisture and heat and not love this material,” Ilyas highlighted. “However, many people in cooler and colder climates may prefer these to stay warmer at night.”
Ilyas explained that silk is a fabric that repels and prevents absorption of droplets, when compared to other textiles, which may be of benefit to those with acne-prone or eczema-prone skin.
No matter what other sheets you use, Newhart recommends grabbing yourself a set of silk pillowcases since the fabric doesn't catch on your skin or hair. In addition to preventing damage to your locks or bed head, she noted other pros of silk sheets include its natural fibers —produced by silkworms — and that it’s hypoallergenic. However, she warns that silk sheets are often expensive and require delicate care to keep them looking nice. And products are often marked as silk but are actually mixed with other fibers, “so be sure to read the package if you're looking for 100-percent silk,” she added.