We need to stop discounting the impact of sleep on human health. Next to eating well and exercising, resting well is the third pillar of healthy living. Too often, our culture valorizes sleepless nights in pursuit of success. Meanwhile, successful people understand the importance of sleeping well every night. One of the ways they ensure their rest is by investing in high quality bedding. Last year, the world spent $87 billion on new bedding. Buying and caring for the right sheets can transform the way you sleep at night.
The first step in buying new bed sheets is determining if you really need to. You may need new sheets if you have stains or smells a wash won’t remove. Old sheets might hold onto materials they shouldn’t, which can ruin sleep and trigger allergies. If holes are forming and seams are fraying, it’s time to invest in a new set.
When it comes time to buy new bed sheets, the first decision to make is material. Linen is a breathable fabric that softens by the wash, but it’s relatively expensive. Polyester is the cheapest, most durable option, but the fabric traps heat and moisture. Cotton is the best of both worlds, combining affordability, durability, and comfort all in one. There’s a reason cotton is a classic favorite when it comes to sheet selection.
If you do choose cotton sheets, you should also consider the fabric quality. Thread count is the quality measure most people think of, but it’s only one of many. Any thread count above 250 should be durable enough for most purposes. Other indicators include staple length, weave, and ply. In staple length, longer fibers tend to create softer, more durable fabric. The weave considered most desirable changes by season. Percale is great for summer weather while twill is commonly found in flannel, making it better for winters. Finally, a single ply with a lower quality cotton is often better than two ply. Two ply may be used to increase the thread count of a sheet without increasing its quality.
After choosing material and quality, color is the next important aspect of sheet selection. Whites are the easiest to clean, but dark colors hide stains better. Neutral colors are the most psychologically soothing while bright colors stimulate the brain. What color palette a person prefers depends on their individual taste.
Once you have new sheets, it’s important to maintain them properly. For best results, experts recommend washing sheets and pillowcases once a week. Sadly, only about 32% of Americans follow these instructions. The rest either don’t believe the expert recommendation, don’t have time to wash this regularly, or simply forget the trip to the washing machine. Yet the studies don’t lie; people who wash their sheets more often sleep better. Individuals who rate their sleep quality well wash their sheets an average of every 12.8 days. On the other hand, people who rate their sleep quality poorly wait an average of 19.9 days to do so.