Your bed is your sanctuary—your place of rest and rejuvenation. So, it should be as comfortable as possible, not only when it comes to your mattress, but also your bed sheets. When choosing the right type and brand of bed sheets, many advertisements want you to believe that the higher the thread count, the more luxurious the sheets. But is that really true?
Not necessarily. Here, we will break down the criteria you should be using when it comes to choosing the right bed sheets for you (because you deserve your best rest).
What is Thread Count?
As its name suggests, thread count refers to the number of threads cross-woven together in every square inch of a sheet, counted lengthwise plus widthwise (warp plus weft).
For example, a thread count of 200 is 100 warp threads and 100 weft threads woven together.
Thread Count and the Quality of Bed Sheets
Many experts say thread count isn’t as important as you’d think when it comes to a nice set of bed sheets. Especially when, as some consumer experts warn, some companies artificially inflate their thread counts to justify charging more. Instead of counting each thread, these companies count each plie (the strands that make up a single thread) separately.
For example, a single thread might be made up of four plies twisted together. Most companies count that thread as one, but some companies will count each plie as a separate thread, inflating their thread count by as much as 75 percent. This is why the Federal Trade Commission is starting to get involved, introducing strict standards for how companies count and advertise their threads.
What Should I Look for When Shopping for Bed Sheets?
To find the right sheets for your comfort and preference, the material, feel and breathability are important to consider, as well as sturdiness after multiple washes and cost.
The experts at Consumer Reports agree—thread count is not always an accurate measure of how “good” a particular brand of bed sheets is. You can’t always trust how a sheet feels to the touch in a store, since many companies will use synthetic chemicals that make them seem softer in the package. The true test is when you take them home and wash them.
Consumer Reports recommends the following measures of quality to help you pick the best sheet for you. The most important questions you should be asking yourself in order to pick the best sheets are:
- Are the fitted sheets deep enough to fit your mattress without slipping off? (Measure the height of your mattress before you start shopping!)
- Will they shrink after multiple washes?
- Do the top sheets hang over enough on the sides of the bed?
- Are the sheets breathable or do they lock in heat? Will you get too hot while you sleep?
- How soft are they after five washes? Does the material start to pill?
- How sturdy are the seams? Will they rip after multiple washes? Will they snag easily? (This is especially important for pet owners.)
Different Types of Bed Sheets
When it comes to feel and breathability, the type of fiber used, as well as the length of that fiber, may be more telling than a sheet’s thread count.
One of the most popular materials in bed linens is Egyptian cotton. But what makes it so special? The fibers that make up this particular type of cotton are longer than most other types of cotton. Experts say this makes for a sturdier and softer material.
The raw materials in Egyptian cotton are put through a rigorous combing process that weeds out the weaker, shorter threads, leaving only the best (and softest) behind.
Pro Tip: When shopping for cotton sheets, look for the words “combed cotton.” Those sheets will probably be sturdy and soft.
Fun Fact: In the past, Egyptian cotton was only grown in Egypt (hence its name), making it mysterious, exotic and of course, adding to its price. However, due to its popularity, it’s now grown in several regions around the world, making it more accessible and affordable.
Types of Weaves
In addition to the length of the fibers in your sheets, the type of weave also has an impact on the thickness, breathability and softness.
Weave refers to the pattern in which fibers are woven together to create a piece of fabric. In a plain weave, the warp and weft threads are woven together in a single under-over pattern. It is consistent and repeats, creating a lighter fabric that allows airflow while you sleep. Other types of weaves include twill, satin and sateen. The way twill is woven, for example, gives it a diagonal rib pattern, making for a stronger and sturdier fabric.
Pro Tip: Pet owners who have to worry about tiny claws snagging their sheets may appreciate a twill weave.
Satin and sateen weaves have nearly identical patterns: both consist of four threads over, one thread under. However, they are made from different types of fibers.
Originally, satin weaves were made with 100% silk threads, though to offer more affordable alternatives, many manufacturers today use nylon, polyester or a blend of all three. For the weave, typically the softest thread will be the visible one on top, making for a very soft, smooth fabric on the top of the sheet, also known as the “right side,” leaving a more dull appearance on the bottom side of the sheet.
Sateen weave sheets are made entirely from cotton, occasionally with some rayon blended in, but still feature the same silky, smooth feel. Sateen weave sheets are sturdy and durable with a luxurious finish, making the perfect, soft, breathable bed sheets. (Psst! They also get softer over time, as opposed to satin, which often requires dry cleaning.)
What is a Reasonable Cost for a Good Set of Bed Sheets?
There are many websites that take the time to test different brands, fabrics, thread counts and weaves of sheets to find consumers the best prices on the best sheets, so do your research before you buy. On average, a good set of sheets will cost anywhere from $50-$150 for a queen size bed.
You don’t want the cheapest sheets you can find, but you also don’t necessarily need the most expensive or highest thread count. You’ll notice that some sheet sets cost as little as $39, yet still get great reviews. If you’re willing to spend more on something a little more luxurious, there are also more expensive sheet sets that many consumers say are worth the extra cash.
Along with the right mattress, sleep accessories are important for creating a cozy bed. At Leesa, we’ve created a sheet set that is cozy, durable, breathable and don’t break the bank. (Sounds too good to be true, right?) The wrinkle-resistant Leesa sheet set features 1 flat sheet, 1 fitted sheet and two standard pillowcases. Featuring 500-thread count comfort, our sateen-weave cotton sheets are luxuriously soft to the touch and help promote airflow while you sleep. Try your Leesa sheets risk-free for 75 restful nights.