Sleep Accessories

Best Bed Sheets Guide (Updated 2019)

Find the best sheet set to go with your mattress and comfort preferences.

By The Mattress Nerd

One often overlooked piece of the sleep environment is your sheet set. People often buy sheets based solely on the color. Some of the more “sophisticated” customers also look at thread count. Is that enough? Here, we look at some other things to consider when buying a set of sheets with a focus on getting a better night’s sleep.

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Factors to consider when buying a set of sheets

There are a lot of factors to sort through when comparing sheet sets. The biggest thing most people look for is thread count. The higher the thread count, in general, the smoother the sheet will feel and the more durable it tends to be. This is not always true, however. You can have a set of sheets with an enormous 1500 thread count be much weaker than a sheet set with only a 400 thread count. A lot of people look for specific colors in their sheets, which I cannot comment on since I am not an interior designer.

In addition to thread count and color, you need to consider the material, the weave, the depth, and any extra features the sheets have.


There are a lot of materials that sheets can be made of. Among the choices are:

  1. Cotton – Cotton is the most common material to use in sheets. The nicest type of cotton sheets are Egyptian cotton. Egyptian cotton plants (so-called “long-staple” cotton) has longer strands which produce a higher quality thread. These tend to be some of the most expensive sheets. There is also Pima cotton, which is nearly as luxurious as Egyptian. If you see something that says 100% cotton, but doesn’t specify if it’s Egyptian or Pima, then it’s probably a low quality cotton.
  2. Tencel/Rayon/Lyocell – Tencel is a brand name of Lyocell fiber, which is a type of rayon. It’s made of cellulose, usually from renewable resources. Because of this, Tencel is the more eco-friendly choice. It has a soft feel, has anti-microbial properties, and wicks away moisture. The downside: it’s rather expensive. For more about Tencel, this wisegeek post has more.
  3. Microfiber – Microfiber is a synthetic fiber made of polyester or sometimes nylon fibers. This tends to be quite durable for the price, but not as comfortable as cotton or Tencel. The main benefit of microfiber sheets is the cost. Microfiber sheets are some of the least expensive sheets you can find.
  4. Flannel – Flannel is made from wool, cotton, or a blend with synthetics. Technically, flannel is a type of weave, not a material. Flannel sheets are popular for use during the winter since they are good at keeping you warm, though they also work well in the summer instead of a blanket, particularly if you keep your bedroom cold. Unlike other materials, flannel sheets often don’t give a thread count, but rather a weight per area (usually ounces per square yard, but sometimes grams per square meter).
  5. Silk – Silk sheets have a very smooth feel and, if cared for properly, will last a long time. However, caring for silk sheets properly can be a lot more work than caring for other types of sheets.  Silk sheets should be hand-washed the first few times to “break them in.” Then, when using a washing machine in subsequent cleanings, it should be set to the delicates cycle with cold water and a gentle detergent. In addition to this extra work, silk sheets are expensive. For this reason, most people don’t get silk sheets. If you decide on silk, look for a high “momme weight” (~15+) and be prepared to put in the extra work to care for them.


In addition to the material, the type of weave the sheets use determine how the sheets feel and how durable they are. Here a few of the more popular ones.

  1. Percale – The percale weave is kind of the “standard” weave, where the vertical and horizontal threads (called warp and weft threads, respectively) cross over one another one at a time. Percale is durable and crisp feeling.
  2. Sateen – This weave gives the sheet a smoother, silkier feel, but at the expense of a little durability. In this weave, the threads cross over 4, then under 1 (or a similar ratio, it can vary a little). This weave is only called sateen if it’s cotton or a similar material. Otherwise, it’s called:
  3. Satin – The same weave as sateen, but with a fabric like nylon, polyester, or silk.
  4. Jersey – This is a knit fabric rather than woven. It’s knit in the same way as t-shirts are. These are soft and comfortable, but can shrink (just like your t-shirt).


Another thing to consider is the depth of the mattress. If you have a very deep mattress (like most pillowtops), you might need to measure the sheets and see if they are designed to fit a mattress of your depth. You may hear the term “deep pocket” sheets. There isn’t a standard definition for exactly how deep it has to be to be considered “deep pocket,” so just make sure the product description or packaging tells you what depth of mattress it fits. It’s best to not pick a set of sheets exactly at the high end of the range. For example, if your mattress is 14″ thick, and the sheets say they fit mattresses up to 14″, the fitted sheet will likely pop off the edges, especially if you sleep near the edge of the mattress. The added weight of a person lying down on the mattress will pull the sheet right off if it’s barely holding on to begin with. Conversely, don’t get a sheet set designed to fit mattresses much bigger than yours. The sheets will bunch off due to a lack of tension holding it in place, which can lead to a lumpy sleep surface, which can disturb your sleep.

Extra features

Some sheet sets will have extra features to make them more appealing. For example, some sheets have bands diagonally across the bottom corners, to keep the sheet from popping off. This is especially useful if you have a motorized base under the mattress.  Others report to be wrinkle-resistant and anti-microbial (mostly features of the material, covered earlier). Keep your eyes open for any little features like this to help you make your decision.


In conclusion, don’t rely solely on thread count and color to make your decision. A lower thread count sheet Egyptian cotton with a sateen weave might feel better and be more durable than a 1500 thread count microfiber sheet. Also, if you’re buying online, please be sure to read carefully. “Egyptian quality” microfiber sheets are not the same as “Egyptian cotton” sheets, for example.

If you have anything to add to this guide, please leave it in the comments. And if this has helped you, please share it with your friends. Thanks for reading.

Comments (25)

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  2. I love our old set of Britannica King tencel lyocell sheets – they are the best! We just bought a a split king adjustable bed and obviously we cant use the fitted sheet (as we need 2 Twin XL sheets). I can’t find a split king or Twin XL fitted sheet at the same high quality – any recommendations? Kari

  3. Hi. Can you recommend a fitted sheet that will not bunch up underneath you while sleeping. My friend has tried everything to prevent this. Including the sheet ties, clips tucking etc. He has trouble sleeping due to this. He has a pillow top mattress although it is somewhat firm. Any recommendations? Is there a sheet that has elastic all the way around it?
    Thank you,

    • I tried this product called Bed Scrunchie to keep my sheets tight every time and it actually works! It holds my sheets 360-degree and I am very satisfied so far.

  4. This was interesting information. I hate microfiber sheets. I have a very old set of Stevens percale, 50/50…cotton,poly…..they are still crisp,yet soft,have worn like iron.but I only have the one set….and I sure would like more ,but in ordering a set of percale,they were scratchy and not soft. So now I am leery…where do you get a set like the older ones. I also have a set of pillowcases ,survivors of another set..from sears..years and years ago. 50/50..crisp yet soft and silky. Where do you find a good 50/50 any more?

    • Yes, that’s correct. However, they are often marketed as having a thread count. Search Amazon for “microfiber sheets” and you’ll see what I mean.

    • No, they’re different materials. Tencel is made from lyocell, microfiber is made from synthetics like polyester.

  5. For about 40 years or so, my Mom always bought Wamsutta sheets, and because they (sheets) were often a Christmas gift in adulthood, I used Wamsutta sheets well into middle age. However, about ten or 15 years ago, the quality seems to have plummeted. Specifically, after about three (by the instructions) washings, the bottom sheet splits. In my experience, they’ve gone from high quality sheets, to disposable sheets.

    After trying a bunch of different sheets, I’ve finally settled on Charter Club Damask 100% supima cotton sheets from Macys. Their regular price is kind of in the ridiculous range (like two or three sets of sheets will cost you the same as your mattress) but they’re often on sale and with the various discounts, a $170 set of sheets can be had for ~$60 with patience. Two King size pillow cases are $80 regular, but around $30 during the best sales.

    Anyway, I’m posting because I suspect that many other folks have had the same experience with Wamsutta, from trusted no-brainer to disappointment — judging from the Amazon reviews some years ago, this is true. And Charter Club seems to be a good if a little pricey replacement for the kind of quality, feel and reliability we used to get from Wamsutta. Perhaps this will save some folks the hunting around that I did.

  6. Linen sheets are also very nice. I am currently thinking about change my bed sheet and i am looking bed sheets to others stores. But when i see your blog i like these sheets. :) Thanks for sharing this because it’s help me to choose me a sheet :) Christmas coming so my wife saying to me that in this Christmas we will change the sheets so can you suggest me where i buy these sheets easily??

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