Sleep is nature's most deeply satisfying restorative for tired bodies. But it isn't a luxury; it's a necessity. And if you want your best sleep ever-the kind that will boost your energy levels and slow the aging process-you need more than just a great mattress.
Even the most comfortable bed isn't complete without good linens and pillows. This guide will help you understand bedding terminology and assist you in choosing products that will get you on the road to sweet dreams.
Sheets and pillowcases protect your mattress and pillows from dirt and dust. A sheet set includes a fitted sheet, a flat or top sheet, and two standard pillowcases. (A twin-size sheet set will include only one pillowcase. A king-size sheet set will include two king size pillowcases.) Bedsheets are available in the same sizes as mattresses: twin, full, queen, king and California king.
The chart below depicts standard bedsheet sizes (in inches). Please note that sizes vary by brand, so consult the manufacturer's guidelines before you purchase. Also, realize that mattress thicknesses vary, due in part to additions like pillow tops. The sheet pocket depth on a fitted sheet must be large enough to accommodate your mattress. Sierra Trading Post provides the pocket depth for many of its sheet sets, so you can compare this measurement to your mattress thickness and be sure to get the right set.
|Bed Size||Fitted Sheet||Flat Sheet||Pillowcase|
One of the most important things to consider when buying sheets is thread count. Thread count is the total combined number of threads woven lengthwise and crosswise into each square inch of fabric. The higher the thread count, the tighter the weave. This close weave creates stronger, softer and more durable linens. Consumer Reports recommends choosing sheets between 200 and 400 thread count for the best quality at a reasonable price, but the highest-quality sheets may exceed 400 thread count.
Pillow shams are decorative pillow covers. They generally only cover regular-sized pillows, but because you won't be sleeping on them, the quality of the pillow doesn't matter much. Pillow shams feature either straight or ruffled edges and come in many styles, colors, fabrics and patterns.
Bed skirts (also known as bed or dust ruffles) hide the bed frame and anything that's stored underneath. The one thing to remember when purchasing a bed skirt is its "drop". The standard drop is 15 inches; however, longer drops are available to fit higher beds. Choose a bed skirt made of heavier materials like polyester or poly/cotton blends for better drape and coverage.
Mattress pads are inexpensive and help protect your bigger investment: the mattress. They are removable and machine washable, unlike the mattress itself, and add a little extra comfort.
Comforters are thick, padded bed coverings intended to be used as the main source of warmth during sleep. They are filled with natural or synthetic insulating materials usually made of polyester, cotton batting, down or wool. Comforters are available in standard bed sizes, but their thickness varies among brands and models.
Down Comforters, insulated with the soft, light clusters of underfeathers from waterfowl, are perhaps the best bed covers for trapping warm air. Down is the lightest, most effective type of insulation, keeping you exceptionally warm during colder months.
High-quality down has a high "fill power". Fill power refers to the volume (number of cubic inches) that one ounce of down will occupy. Down with a higher fill power is made of larger, stronger clusters from mature birds. These clusters fill more space with less weight, providing a roomy air pocket to trap in warmth.
Down comforters can provide years of warmth with minimal maintenance. Many are machine washable, and if you cover your down comforter with a duvet, you can protect it from daily wear, as well as eliminate the need for frequent cleaning. Note: Not all down products are machine washable. Please check care labels before laundering.
Duvets are slip-on covers for comforters (used mostly for down comforters) that protect against dirt, dust and wear. You can also use a duvet alone if you need only lightweight coverage in the summer. Duvets are thin and manageable, making them easy to store.
Coverlets/Bedspreads are decorative bed covers with little or no padding that must be paired with a blanket in order to provide adequate warmth. Coverlets are normally made of cotton using different weaves such as chenille, corduroy or jacquard. They may also include details like eyelets, fringed edges and embroidery.
Quilts are lightly padded, three-layer bedcovers. The top layer is made of fabric pieces sewn together by hand or machine in a decorative cross-stitch design. The middle layer is one of several types of fill, including polyester, cotton, wool or down. The bottom layer is typically one solid piece of fabric. As with a coverlet, you may have to pair your quilt with a blanket for extra warmth.
Beds-in-a-Bag are essentially bedding packages that include all key bedding components (a sheet set, comforter, pillow shams and bed skirt) in one bag. They are convenient and eliminate the hassle of trying to find bedding coordinates separately. Usually the bedding in this type of package is of lower quality or is only offered in discontinued styles and colors. However, these sets are relatively inexpensive and good for guest bedrooms, summer homes, RVs, etc. where top-of-the-line products aren't necessary.
The chart below depicts standard comforter, quilt and duvet cover sizes (in inches). Please note that sizes vary by brand, so consult the manufacturer's guidelines before you make a purchase.
|Bed Size||Comforter Size|
Note: Coverlets are designed to be slightly longer and wider than the dimensions for comforters and other bed covers shown in the table; coverlets should reach down to about the floor.
Blankets can be paired with quilts or coverlets to provide extra warmth, while throw blankets (or "throws") are used to add a decorative touch to your bedroom décor. Blankets, like comforters, are generally sized from twin to king. Throws typically measure about 50x60" and are great for curling up under.
Blankets also come in a variety of materials. You may need to keep several blankets on hand in order to switch them out when the seasons change.
The right pillow is essential for a good night's sleep. If you wake up feeling unrested or with a sore neck, your pillow may be to blame. On average, pillows should be replaced every two years, depending on their quality. Chances are, yours need to be replaced right now!
The chart below depicts standard pillow sizes (in inches). These sizes may vary by manufacturer.
Proper care is essential in prolonging the life of your linens. The following are general guidelines to follow when laundering your linens. As care instructions vary by brand, please consult the manufacturer's directions before washing.