What's the Best Bed Sheet Material for Comfortable Sleep?
A Comprehensive Guide to 10 Types of Bed Sheets
Browsing online or scanning the department store aisle, you'll see countless options of bed sheets and bedding sets. While it would certainly be easiest to buy whatever's on sale, you'll likely end up disappointed if you don't know exactly what you're buying or what to look for.
You can't gauge bed sheet quality based on how they look or even feel. To ensure you get the most comfortable sheets at a fair price, you'll want to assess temperature regulation, construction, weave, durability, and more.
The simplest way to find the best bed sheets for your preferences and needs is to narrow down your search by material. Once you've read our bed sheet buying guide and know what qualities to look for, you're ready to dive into the details of the many fabrics used to craft bed sheets and bedding.
This comparison guide goes over the general characteristics associated with each type of bed sheet, but remember, material and product quality can still vary widely between manufacturers. Unless otherwise noted, this guide refers to sheets made 100 percent from the listed material.
Bed Sheet Material Overview
Natural (cotton, wool) or synthetic
Usually a cotton/synthetic blend
1. Bamboo Sheets
Extremely durable and made from one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, bamboo textiles are a sustainable option. Bamboo sheets have a smooth and silky feel, allow easy airflow, and wick moisture. They’re also naturally antimicrobial, making them a great choice for sleepers with allergies or asthma.
However, many "bamboo sheets" on the market actually blend bamboo viscose with other materials, such as cotton. For the highest quality, look for the material ingredient breakdown on the tag or in the product description. Our Nolah Bamboo Sheet Set features 100 percent viscose from bamboo and are some of the best sheets for hot sleepers.
Click here to learn more about the benefits of bamboo sheets.
2. Cotton Sheets
Known for their softness, low maintenance, and durability, cotton sheets are the most popular type of bedding. Pure cotton sheets are also all-natural and often organic, making them a safe, feel-good product. Crisp and breathable, cotton sheets also have cooling properties.
Cotton sheets come in various weave styles and wide-ranging thread counts, which we discuss further in our bed sheet buying guide. You'll also see a few different types of cotton, most commonly the Egyptian, pima, and upland varieties.
Egyptian Cotton Sheets
Widely regarded as the highest-quality option, Egyptian cotton sheets feature extra-long fibers that make the material luxuriously soft and smooth.
Pima Cotton Sheets
Known for their bright sheen, pima cotton sheets have a lavish look. While pima cotton has slightly shorter fibers than Egyptian cotton, it's still soft, smooth, and durable.
Upland Cotton Sheets
Upland cotton has relatively short fibers compared to pima and Egyptian cotton. As a result, upland cotton sheets cost less than their more luxurious counterparts but don't feel quite as soft.
3. Flannel Sheets
During the depths of winter, flannel sheets provide warmth and coziness. Typically made from cotton, wool, or synthetic fibers, flannel is loosely woven with thick yarn and has a fuzzy feel.
While excellent for insulation, flannel doesn't offer much breathability. It traps body heat and can make you sweat after just a few minutes under the covers. Some sleepers also avoid flannel because it generates static, pills easily, and can shrink in the wash.
4. Fleece Sheets
If you live in a frigid climate and need bed sheets that keep you toasty through the night, fleece is a good option. However, it does use polyester—a synthetic material—so anyone looking for all-natural bedding should choose another winter-weather alternative.
Woven with very fine fibers, fleece is durable and has a notoriously plush and smooth feel. Fleece also regulates temperature thanks to its breathability and moisture-wicking abilities. It keeps you warm but doesn't retain your own body heat and sweat like flannel.
Microfleece, a lighter version of standard fleece, shares these characteristics but has a thinner and more flexible construction.
On the downside, fleece sheets tend to collect odor and require frequent washing. Because fleece collects lint easily, maintenance can become a bit of a hassle. You should only wash and dry fleece sheets with other fleece bedding, towels, and clothing.
5. Hemp Sheets
From making industrial rope to crafting artisanal soap, hemp seems to have endless applications. Technically a weed, hemp is very resilient and requires significantly less land and water to grow than other crops. Though hemp cultivation was banned in the U.S. for decades, many eco-conscious shoppers and manufacturers now look to hemp as a sustainable alternative to cotton, wood, and even plastic.
Hemp textiles are biodegradable and durable, making them a green choice for clothing and bedding. Bed sheets made with hemp fabric look and feel similar to linen but cost less. Much like bamboo sheets, hemp bed sheets are breathable, moisture-wicking, and antibacterial, so they sleep cool and clean.
Before buying a set of hemp sheets, shoppers should know that hemp fabrics have a few drawbacks. For example, hemp bed sheets wrinkle and crease easily. Hemp fabrics also don't hold dye well, so you won't find hemp sheets in vibrant colors. Lastly, low-quality hemp sheets usually have a scratchy feel, so you'll want to do a bit of research before buying to find a trustworthy brand.
6. Jersey Sheets
The affordability of jersey sheets makes them a staple for college students and young adults. However, the low price reflects a generally low-quality material.
While most bed sheets use woven fabrics, manufacturers knit cotton—or, more commonly, a cotton/synthetic blend—to craft jersey sheets. Knitting results in a loser fabric than weaving, which makes jersey sheets particularly stretchy.
Jersey sheets certainly have their benefits; they're soft, wrinkle-resistant, and very low maintenance. However, their stretchiness makes them less durable than most other bed sheet materials. Plus, knit jersey sheets made with synthetic materials trap heat and make you sweat.
7. Linen Sheets
Anything made from 100 percent linen comes at a premium price, including linen bed sheets, which often cost over $200. Extracting linen fibers from the inside of flax stalks and slowly weaving the delicate threads takes more time and energy than producing cotton and other common bed sheet materials, hence the higher cost.
Nonetheless, many sleepers say that luxurious linen bed sheets are well worth the investment. Linen sheets are soft, moisture-wicking, breathable, lightweight, durable, and naturally antibacterial. They get softer with use, don't pill or collect lint, and dry quickly.
Aside from the price, linen bedding has two noteworthy disadvantages: it wrinkles very easily, which many people think looks messy, and it's easy to accidentally shrink linen sheets if you don't wash and dry them correctly.
8. Microfiber Sheets
Like knit jersey sheets, microfiber sheets are often seen as budget bed sheets.
Typically made from polyester or nylon, microfiber sheets are entirely synthetic. As a result, they're affordable, durable, and resist wrinkles and shrinkage. However, microfiber has a tight "waffle" weave that traps heat and absorbs sweat. If you tend to sleep hot and purchase microfiber bed sheets, you can expect to wake up to damp sheets sticking to your skin.
9. Silk Sheets
Silk takes the cake as the most luxurious option on the bedding market. The material has an illustriously smooth texture, a soft feel, and an elegant shimmery appearance. Together, these characteristics make silk bed sheets not only extremely comfortable but timelessly stylish as well. Silk sheets are also temperature regulating, hypoallergenic, and beneficial for your skin and hair.
Unsurprisingly, silk sheets come at a premium price, with high-end sets costing anywhere from $500 to $2,500. If you decide to splurge on silk bedding, you'll want to choose your sheets carefully. You should understand the types of silk sheets available and what qualities to look for. While shopping, you'll likely come across the following terms and distinctions:
A momme (mm) is a unit of measurement used to compare the density and quality of silk fabrics. Momme refers to the weight (in pounds) of a piece of silk that measures 45 inches by 100 yards. In general, silk sheets with higher momme are of better quality and more durable. We recommend silk sheets with a momme of 19 or higher.
Silk sheets can also have a quality grade of A6, A5, A4, A3, A3, A, B, or C, with A6 representing the highest quality. Highly-rated silk fabrics have longer, more durable threads.
"Types" of Silk
When shopping for silk sheets, you'll likely encounter the following terminology to describe different "types" of silk fabrics. While some silk labels refer to the silk's sourcing, others refer to the weave style used to construct the fabric.
Mulberry Silk– The highest-quality silk sheets use 100 percent mulberry silk. Stronger and smoother than other types of silk, mulberry silk comes from domesticated silkworms that feed exclusively on mulberry leaves.
Tussah Silk– Tussah silk comes from silkworms that eat wild oak leaves. It has a warm, honey color and a rougher feel than mulberry silk. Tussah silk sheets are stronger and more durable than mulberry silk sheets but not as soft and desirable.
Charmeuse Silk– Charmeuse silk refers to a type of weave, not a specific variety of silk. To craft charmeuse silk, three or more threads must pass over one thread in a weave. This construction results in a smooth fabric with a glossy sheen. The majority of luxury silk bed sheets use this weave pattern.
Habotai or "China" Silk– Like charmeuse, habotai silk refers to a specific weave style. This "plain" weave uses fine threads, resulting in a soft and lightweight fabric. While it costs less than charmeuse silk, habotai silk doesn't last as long and is more commonly used for clothing than bedding.
Botanic-original Tencel™ bed sheets have a silky-smooth feel and are temperature-regulating, antibacterial, and eco-friendly. They're similar to bamboo bed sheets for their softness, sustainability, and durability.
Final Tips for Bed Sheet Shopping
Now that you understand what to look for in bed sheets, you can get into the nitty-gritty of comparing specific brands, products, and prices. As you shop, be sure to read labels and product descriptions carefully, as sheets often contain blended materials even if the product name only refers to one material.
As previously mentioned, even bed sheets made with the same materials or weave can vary drastically in terms of quality. As a savvy consumer, one thing you can do to compare similar bedding products is to look for third-party testing and certifications. For example, compliance with the following standards and organization requirements can give you confidence in the safety and eco-friendliness of your new bed sheets:
- Better Cotton Initiative
- Cradle to Cradle
- Forest Stewardship Council
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
- Made Safe Certified
- Oeko-Tex® 100 Standard
- USDA Certified Organic
Lastly, we recommend choosing brands with easy returns, just in case you don't love the first sheet set you order.
Disclaimer: Nolah does not provide medical advice. All resources on the Nolah blog, including this article, are informational only and do not replace professional medical counsel. Talk to your doctor about any health, mental health, or sleep-related issues.
You May Also Like These Articles
Mattress ShoppingWhat Is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain?
Nov 11, 2020
Mattress ShoppingWhat Makes the Best Mattress for Back Sleepers?
Nov 4, 2020
Mattress ShoppingHow Parents Can Find the Best Mattress for Kids and Teens
Aug 29, 2021
Mattress AccessoriesMattress Toppers: When to Buy and What to Look For
Sep 9, 2022
Sleep Science, Health, and WellnessREM Sleep Calculator: Ideal Bedtime and Wake-Up Time
Sep 2, 2022
Don't Sleep on Exclusive Offers
Sign up for our newsletter, and you'll be the first to know about discounts, deals, and what's new at Nolah.