Key comfort points:
- Cotton sheets will help keep you cool and are easy to wash and dry.
- If you move around a lot while sleeping, invest in a duvet a size larger than your bed for extra coverage.
- A box stitch duvet will have a criss-cross pattern which means it has small compartments to keep filling evenly distributed.
Research indicates that humans need at least 6 - and up to 9 - hours of sleep a night to function well. A relaxing environment leads to better sleep, so make sure those hours really count by choosing great bedding.
Washing your sheets
Considering the number of skin cells we shed in bed, there are millions of good reasons to wash bedding regularly, and a full guide to cleaning your mattress and washing bed sheets can be found here. While regular washing to get rid of dirt and microscopic dust mites is important for hygiene, the type of bedding chosen can affect comfort.
Don’t forget your pyjamas: They can harbour dead skin cells and bacteria, not to mention perspiration odours, so to feel fresh it’s a good idea to wash PJs every three days.
Types of sheets
Sheets can be made from manmade materials such as polyester, or natural fibres such as cotton or silk.
Polyester and poly/cotton
Polyester is easy to care for, holds colour well and is often combined with cotton for a durable blend that can dry quickly and may require little ironing.
This natural fibre is very popular for sheets as it is durable, and it “breathes”, which helps sleepers stay cool and dry. Different types of cotton and finishes are available.
- Percale: This is a popular, tightly woven sheet that is smooth and has the same matte finish on both sides.
- Sateen: Frequently heavier and more tightly woven than percale, this finish has more sheen, gives cotton a silkier feel and is considered more luxurious.
- Thread count: This refers to the number of threads – vertical and horizontal – found in a square inch of sheet fabric. Often an indicator of quality, a higher thread count generally means the sheets are more luxurious and durable, although fibre type and weave also contribute to quality. Finer fibres tend to feel softer.
- Egyptian cotton: This material is popular for quality bedding, as its long fibres mean sheets last well and feel soft, often becoming even softer with repeated washing.
- Supima: This trademark is applied to premium, US-grown cotton of the long-fibred Pima variety. It is valued for its silky feel and durability.
A natural fabric made from flax, linen offers breathability, which helps with staying cool in summer and cosy in winter. However, it may wrinkle more than other fabrics.
This is the ultra-luxe option, valued for its smooth texture and breathability. Made by silkworms, this natural fibre is more costly, and may require special care. Silk can vary in quality and weave – charmeuse is shiny on one side and dull on the other.
Duvets and tog ratings
The tog rating of a duvet refers to its thermal insulation – or how warm it is. The scale starts at 1 (coolest), going up to 15 (warmest). In general a tog rating between 1 and 7 is suited to spring and summer, depending on temperatures, while for winter most people need between 10.5 and 15. An all-season duvet can be a versatile choice, being comprised of two duvets with different tog ratings that can be joined together or used alone to provide the right amount of warmth.
The weight of a duvet is linked to its filling. Duvet fillings can range from feathers and down, to a range of natural and synthetic substances that can be treated to reduce growth of bacteria, dust mites or fungi for those who suffer from allergies. To wash duvets & pillows, see this guide.