Consider this your complete checklist for sheets that not only look good but ensure you clock those eight hours of zzz’s.
There seems to be a zillion and one gadgets and gizmos out there promising better sleep. But sometimes it’s best to go back to basics and start with your bedding. Yep, what you’re sleeping in can be the difference between a sound, peaceful night and one filled with tossing and turning.
“Your sheets are so important,” stresses Sydney-based sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo. “Having a 200 to 400 thread count in a natural fibre is super important. Why? Because your body needs to be kept in that range or otherwise it might overheat. And when you overheat, this compromises your production of your sleepiness hormone – melatonin. Melatonin is only produced when you have a cool body temperature. Without melatonin you are less sleepy, more likely to wake up and less likely to fall asleep.”
“This is also why women going through menopause and pregnancy experience more frequent wake ups because the body is often overheating in those life cycles,” Arezzolo adds.
Makes sense right? So how to you go about finding the right ones for you? While the rest of us often pick bedding based on looks, Arezzolo’s checklist includes:
- 200-400 thread count – to keep the body’s core temperature just right.
- Natural fibre: “Synthetic thread bed linen made with polyester is known to cause a sweaty and sticky feeling which can interrupt sleep however 100% organic cotton bed sheets is ideal for naturally regulating body temperature,” adds Rebecca Winckworth, co-founder and director of linen company White & Green.
- Organic: “If it’s not organic it can be made with pesticides which can exacerbate allergies and irritations, leading to tossing and turning which can wake you up,” says Arezzolo.
Arezzolo’s final – and potentially most important – point, consider bedding as an investment and be prepared to part with some dough. She says to ask yourself: How many nights are you going to sleep? “Price is relative to value and you need to ask yourself how much do you value sleep?” she stresses.
“People spend thousands on insurance for a car, but then second guess spending a couple of hundred on sheets that will last them for years.”
So what are best sheet materials on the market?
“I recommend cotton and wool as they are natural and being a natural fibre, they help absorb moisture which can otherwise exasperate heat,” explains Arezzolo. “Wool in particular is thermoregulatory which means it responds to how hot your body is. If it needs to evaporate heat it will, wicking moisture from the skin and absorbing it. Which is going to support healthy sleep which is what we want.”
Olivia is currently sleeping on White Terry Home bedding (which is pegged to start shipping to Australia soon). “They are great, very pretty and good for sleep. Win-win.”
The other perk of cotton is that you can get different weaves making it very versatile for people’s wants and needs. There is percale, sateen, flannel and herringbone.
“Cotton is the fibre which is then weaved together in various ways to determine the feel of the bedsheets,” explains Winckworth. “ If you want a soft feeling, opt for a sateen weave. If you are in need of a cosy texture like a cotton t-shirt against your skin, the herringbone is the right choice or if you are after a crisp white material, a percale weave is the perfect fit.”
What you should look for when buying cotton sheets:
“An easy way to identify high-quality bedding is by the Organic and Fairtrade Certificates. As well as being ethical, organic cotton is more durable due to the avoidance of heavy chemical processes,” explains Winckworth. “Overall, look for a genuine sustainable brand that cares about its products and beware of the brands who use high thread count as a marketing ploy.”
What skin types would benefit from cotton sheets:
Winckworth and Arezzolo both agree that while cotton works best for all skin types, it is ideal for anyone who suffers from skin allergies or sensitive skin as it does not cause any irritation.
Cotton brands to shop:
Linen, like cotton, is a natural fibre, which Bed Threads founder Genevieve Rosen explains it means it “boasts a premium quality that synthetics never can or will.”
Linen is also a natural temperature regulator. “This means it insulates heat in winter, keeping you warm and cosy, and stays light and cool and summer.” In fact it can absorb up to 20 times its weight in water. “These capabilities mean that you’ll never be cold or overheat, and that your sheets are optimised to help you sleep well, which is their primary purpose, after all. It is the ultimate trans-seasonal bedding, which explains its growth in popularity over the last few years, especially in Australia,” says Rosen.
Another benefit is that linen is an-eco-friendly choice.“Linen originates from flax—a humble plant—and requires less water and fewer pesticides to cultivate than other manchesters. Plus, the entire linen crop is utilised and it is a renewable, biodegradable and recyclable resource,” Rosen adds
What to look for when buying linen:
Once again look for natural fibres rather than blends.
Rosen also explains that “beyond the physical and science-backed reasons your sheets are standing between you and those precious eight hours, there are some psychological factors here, too. If your bed is clad in old, stained, pilling, ripped or just generally ugly and uninviting sheets, you are less likely to make early nights a priority.” So look for colours, styles on the market that you love and that will make you want to jump into bed each night.
What type of skin types work better with linen:
This is a good choice is you’re sleeping with a partner. The reason? “If you are a cool sleeper and your partner is a hot sleeper, the linen will be comfortable for both of you,” Rosen explains.
Another perk? “The best thing about linen is that the more you use it and wash it, the softer it becomes. It also looks amazing from the minute its washed and the bed is dressed, no iron required.”
Linen brands to shop:
Booming in popularity lately, bamboo is a sustainable, renewable resource that this essentially made from a bamboo fibre – this fibre is then manufactured in a number of different ways to produce three different types of bamboo fabric – bamboo rayon (the most common), bamboo lyocell and bamboo linen.
Bamboo is also a natural fibre (so it fits Arezzolo’s checklist) and has a soft, silk feel – lovers say it’s much softer than cotton. Bamboo is also said to be more durable than other fabrics, however, requires a little bit more care. It’s important you follow washing instructions and sick to air drying or tumble drying on a low temperature.
While bamboo bedding can generally be more on the exxy side, good sheets should last you over two years. Plus it’s non absorbent nature means it wouldn’t yellow from your body oils over time.
What to look for when buying bamboo:
Organic ranges and thread count.
What type of skin types work better with bamboo:
Bamboo is naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial. As it reduces the amount of moisture in your bed is can also discourage dust mites. It’s perfect for kids and adults who are prone to allergies.
As bamboo is one of the fastest trees grown on the plant, it means it’s an easily renewable source, therefore it’s also a good choice of the eco-warrior. Bamboo tends to have a lower environmental impact than other materials, and hardly any carbon footprint. It doesn’t require excessive water, pesticides or harmful chemicals to grow or produce it – making it a great choice for the planet and your health.
Bamboo brands to shop:
Another fabric worth mentioning is corduroy. On trend at the moment and perfect for cooler months, look for corduroy that is made from 100% cotton. Hayley Worley the founder of The Sheet Society explains that their corduroy is made with a cotton of 400 thread count. “ It is made of 100% cotton, meaning it’s breathable and hypoallergenic,” she adds also explaining that it’s super easy to wash. You can put it in the washing machine as well as the dryer, making it perfect for the lazy launders among us.
Brands offering corduroy:
So how often should you wash your sheets for better sleep?
“A general rule of thumb is to swap out your whole bedding ensemble every two weeks,” says Worley. “Winter is a tricky time for drying laundry, and if you don’t have a dryer or any space to hang washing inside, a great option is to just switch out a few items each week. Your pillowcases can get grubby quickly, so we’d suggest refreshing these ones weekly… keeping on top of cleaning your sheets really does help avoid that ‘stuffy’, uncomfortable feeling that can keep you up at night.”
To maintain the longevity of the sheets, Winckworth says to use natural detergent where possible. “There are various organic options available which will care for the bed sheets. They are also safer for your skin too. Wash the bed sheets at no more than 40 degrees Celsius. This is softer on the bedding while also being eco-friendly and saving energy.”