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How to Choose Bed Sheets: A Bed Sheet Buying Guide

by Olly Mason

Take our advice: Do not undervalue the importance of good bed sheets. While they’re mostly hidden under the loft of your favorite comforter, bed sheets serve as the middleman between you and all the potential comfort of your mattress. We’re not simply talking about smooth sheets—in this bed sheet buying guide, we’re deconstructing the humble bedding essential and giving all the tips and info you need to know how to choose bed sheets tailored to your personal comfort needs.

Related: The Importance of a Good Pillow for Your Sleep Type

At a Glance:

The Best Cooling Bed Sheets

The Best Warming Bed Sheets

The Best Soft Bed Sheets

Understanding the Types of Bed Sheet Weaves

Bed Sheet Count Guide: FAQs

The Best Materials for Sheets

Comfort is subjective—what is good for some may not be so great for others. Overall, there are a few general factors that give each type of bedding material its unique advantages and disadvantages, as we discuss in the following bed sheet material guide.

Coolest Bed Sheet Materials

Hot sleepers have it especially hard when it comes to getting comfortable at night, and it’s not just the warm months when the struggle is real. Colder seasons can also trigger heat flashes from being piled under heavy comforters or having your home’s heat on full blast. And if you sleep on a memory foam mattress, all these small details amplify, increasing the effects of hot sleep.

Luckily, cooling bed sheets are readily available on the market, providing satisfying relief for sleepers who fall on the toasty side of rest.

Linen

Natural fibers have the amazing ability to respond to heat better than man-made textiles and linen sheets are no exception. Made of flax, this material is incredibly breathable and even has some conductive properties, meaning hot air is less prone to trapping between the fibers and heat transfers away from the body and to the fibers, keeping you cool. Be aware, though: this type of bedding is notorious for wrinkling!

Tencel

Eucalyptus is the star of this naturally cooling bedding material, which is also growing in popularity as a sustainable alternative to cotton manufacturing. Tencel fibers tend to be smoother than cotton with virtually no pile where heat can settle in and have a softer feel as well. You can find these sheets in a sweet spot between inexpensive cotton bed sheets and luxury bed sheets.

Bamboo

Here’s another breathable bed sheet option that is rivaling the eco-friendly production of cotton. Bamboo—which is technically a grass—is a thirsty plant and can absorb up to 40 percent more moisture than cotton, making it especially great for sufferers of sweaty sleep. The lighter makeup of the fibers does require special care, though, so make sure to follow washing instructions to reap all the benefits of bamboo sheets. 

We Recommend: DreamFit® Degree 5 Bamboo Rich Ecru Queen Sheet Set-FFBB004-49-4Q5

Close up of DreamFit bamboo sheets

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The cooling touch of this five-piece bedding set from DreamFit caresses the body in a combination of cooling bamboo and high-quality long staple cotton—the same kind used in Egyptian cotton varieties. The effect is a luxurious sensation of heat wicking, natural breathability, and a softness that is a dream come true.

Warmest Bed Sheet Materials

Which is the coziest bed sheet material? The answer might surprise you.

Flannel

While flannel bed sheets are just a variation on cotton, their special brushed finishes put them in their own class of warm bedding. The finished result is a plusher touch (you know, like the feel of your favorite fall flannel top), a bonus for anyone who enjoys particularly cozy sleep spaces.

Polyester

Polyester is everywhere, from clothing and furniture, to—you guessed it—bedding. It’s no wonder, considering how durable and inexpensive this textile is, but that doesn’t mean it has universal appeal. This material is particularly great at trapping heat and has a low breathability rate. For hot sleepers, that makes polyester a no-no, but for those who welcome balmy sleep, polyester can be a match made in bedding heaven.

Modal

Modal is a flexible bedding material that offers up to 50 percent better absorbency than cotton, which works for both cooling and warmer sleep settings. As for the feel of modal, you can expect a silk-like finish that’s an upgrade from standard cotton, but with a price tag that is less than silk bedding.

Cotton

Cotton is the star child of textiles, thanks to its versatility, durability, and inexpensive manufacturing that can be used a number of different ways. In fact, cotton is so popular that it’s available in a spectrum of options, from standard cotton bed sheets, to premium Egyptian and Pima cotton bed sheets (more below), both which are considered some of the best sheets on the market. The ultimate quality depends on thread count and material grade, which directly relate to the cooling and warming qualities of cotton, so knowing which is best for your sleep needs is particularly important when it comes to selecting cotton bed sheets for your mattress.

We Recommend: DreamFit® Degree 2 Fine Combed Cotton Ivory Queen Sheet Set-FF26003-05-4Q2

Close up of DreamFit bed sheets in ivory

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DreamFit showcases a premium example of cotton’s unbeatable benefits in this two-piece bed sheet set made of 100 percent fine-combed cotton. That’s industry talk for cotton that is carefully handled and spun for next-level softness your body will enjoy, especially on chilly nights. While this duo is great at keeping you warm, the natural properties of cotton mean the material still breathes, reducing the chance of waking up in a sweat puddle.

Softest Bed Sheet Material

Bamboo

Cotton isn’t the only bedding material feeling the competition from bamboo. For some, the luxuriously satiny feel of silk can often be satisfied by the less-expensive feel of bamboo. The difference lies in the manufacturing process: spun bamboo pulp is processed with a chemical treatment, essentially altering the genetic makeup on a molecular level. The finished product is softer, more durable, is extremely breathable, antimicrobial, and cool to the touch. 

Silk

There’s something about the silk-making that makes the final product feel even more luxurious. Yes, actual silkworms are used during the process, but they’re not harmed. Instead, manufacturers harvest silkworm cocoons and their natural protein fibers, which have an elasticity and structure that are super-soft, satiny, and delicate to the touch unlike any synthetic textile. Of course, this makes silk a pricey material, but for those who believe in splurging while sleeping, silk bed sheets are a natural go-to.

Egyptian & Pima Cotton

Both Pima cotton and Egyptian cotton are hand-harvested in order to preserve that softness that is unique to the strain’s extra-long fiber. In terms of grading, Pima cotton ranks immediately below Egyptian cotton, though, factors such as origin and thread count also affect the quality of each variety. In general, Pima cotton has said to be softer, while Egyptian cotton is especially durable and flexible. Both options are considered top-tier bedding options no luxury bed setting is complete without.

We Recommend: DreamFit® Degree 3 Pima Cotton Soft Linen Queen Sheet Set-FF30003-12-4Q3

Close up of DreamFit Pima cotton bed sheets

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With a 300 thread count rating made of Pima cotton, this DreamFit four-piece bed sheet set is the affordable way to enjoy the bliss of premium bedding without breaking the bank. A word of caution: Once you fit your bed with this collection, you might not want to ever leave the feel of its soft weave and patented design that are nothing short of luxury.

Bedsheet Weave

While it’s often overlooked, a bedsheet’s weave structure is nothing to be underestimated; knowing the difference can make the difference between bed sheets that feel cheap and bedroom sheets that feel like a 5-star hotel.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Percale Weave: This variety uses a tight weave that feels like a dress shirt, is breathable, and cool to the touch.
  • Sateen Weave: Thicker fibers provide superior warmth, while a 3 over 1 weave pattern looks and feels silky-soft—a must for cold sleepers!
  • Twill Weave: Rather than over-and-under patching, twill weaves use parallel ribs (like on jeans), providing great durability and a cool feel.
  • Patterned Weave: Paisleys, brocade, florals, damask—these are all examples of patterned weaves. These bed sheets run on the heavier side, meaning they’re great for keeping warm.
  • Dobby Weave: With patterns stitched entirely across the surface, dobby weaves provide texture and style with a dash of craft, but do not affect the heating or cooling properties for a particular bed sheet.

Bedsheet Thread Count FAQ

  1. What is thread count?

Essentially, thread count indicates how many fibers run a vertically and horizontally across the axis of a single square inch of a bed sheet. 

  1. What is a good sheet thread count?

There is no magic number when it comes to the best thread count, but generally, 200 thread count is the as low as you will want to go. Any lower, and comfort becomes seriously compromised. The higher the thread count, the softer the sheets will be. However, it’s important to consider the materials used and the level of softness they provide as well.

  1. What is the highest sheet thread count?

Bed sheets are available in thread counts below 200 up to 1000 TC, and beyond. Keep in mind, there is no exact benchmark when it comes to the best thread count for sheets, and higher numbers don’t always indicate quality. Overall, shoppers are able to find luxury bed sheets while searching between 400 and 600 thread count.

Bed Sheets by Mattress Type

Once you understand the type of mattress you’re sleeping on, you can maximize its comfort by selecting the right type of bed sheets. Here’s what you need to know.

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are great for contouring support that cradles the entire body, but their materials are also notorious for trapping heat. Many newer memory foam mattresses offer cooling covers, often infused with a gel or even metals that help aid in cooler sleep. Regardless of whether your bed uses these technologies, the best bed sheets for memory foam mattress models are ones with light materials and that are breathable and flexible.

We Recommend: Nectar Resident Serenity Sleep Queen Bundle-847420061187

Close up of Nectar Resident Serentity four piece bedding set

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Sweet dreams are made of bed sheet sets like this Nectar bundle. The silver lining to this six-piece bedding package? Literal silver infused into every fiber, providing dual-purpose antimicrobial properties that keep the material fresh, plus superior heat conductivity that keeps you fresh, too. Made of 100 percent cotton, this ensemble is also breathable, meaning it’s perfectly suitable to use with a memory foam mattress.

Innerspring & Pocketed Coil

Virtually any kind of bed sheet will work. However, since innerspring and pocketed coil mattresses have a breathable base, you can really take advantage of their natural insulation. Take this Stearns & Foster pocketed coil mattress, for example. Special air vents and PrimaCool material with Tencel fibers counteract hot sleep when combined with lighter fabrics like bamboo or silk, but if you prefer a warmer sleep space, shoot for heavier materials like flannel and cotton for a snug feel.

Hybrid

Hybrid mattresses can be tricky. On one hand, the foam surface can run hot, but the airy base offers relief. Fit models like this SleepFit hybrid mattress to suit your needs. Do you like it warmer? Go for heavier bedding materials like flannel or dobby weaves to harness your own body’s warmth. Or keep it light and refreshing with a bamboo or Tencel bed sheet to this give this pick a boost of cooling touch to avoid paying extra for the mattress feature.

Learn More: Memory Foam vs. Hybrid Mattresses

Shop Bed Sheets at Your Local Mattress Land

Fitting your bed with the best bed sheets is an inexpensive way to jumpstart better sleep health and a better you overall. From color choice to the type of material, Mattress Land offers a wide selection of bed sheets that complement your taste and your desired level of sleep comfort.

Explore everything mattress and bedding at your local Mattress Land—the only mattress supplier with exclusive BedFIT technology that ensures sleep crafted to your unique needs. Shop online by phone at (877-477-5337), or at a mattress showroom near you in California, Nevada, Washington, and Idaho!

Before you Shop: Take the BedFIT Challenge!