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‘Bedding’ is a catch-all term for the sheets, blankets, and other layering accessories used to improve comfort and temperature neutrality on an existing mattress and foundation. Many shoppers select their bedding based on factors like aesthetic value or price-point, but bedding choice can significantly impact one’s overall sleep quality — for better or for worse. And with a wide range of bedding options available to shoppers, making this choice can be somewhat difficult.
This guide will look at important factors for those who are shopping for new sheets, pillow cases, blankets, comforters, and duvets, as well as the top-rated models according to actual owners. First, let’s look at the materials that are most commonly used to produce bedding products.
First, let’s discuss sheets and pillow cases. These items may be sold separately, but are usually sold together in sheet sets. A standard sheet set includes a top sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillow cases with matching or complementary colors or designs.
Although sheet configuration often comes down to personal preference, most people utilize two sheets on their bed. The bottom sheet, also known as a fitted sheet, features elasticated edges that fit over the four corners of a standard mattress. The top sheet, also known as a flat sheet, does not have fitted edges; instead, it rests freely on top of the fitted sheet.
Some people prefer to sleep beneath the top sheet for extra warmth, as it provides a cool barrier between the sleeper’s body and their covers, while others enjoy sleeping with the top sheet underneath. However, due to their elastic corners, bottom sheets are not designed for use as a cover.
Additionally, bed skirts are sheets that are placed between the mattress and the foundation. Because a sleeper’s body never comes into direct contact with them, bed skirts are purely decorative.
Important considerations when selecting bottom and top sheets include:
Another important consideration is weave. During the weaving process, warp (or vertical) yarns normally float over and under the weft (or horizontal) yarns. However, weft-faced fabrics are produced using the opposite technique: the weft goes over or under the warp. Whether warp or weft floats over the other, the over-to-under ratio determines the type of fabric that is produced. Generally, sheet material falls into one of three categories in terms of weave.
A wide range of materials can be used to produce sateen, percale and/or twill fabrics used in sheets.
Cotton: Because it is naturally soft and breathable, cotton is the most common fiber used to make sheets. Cotton plants produce bolls (or seed capsules) that typically contain at least 200,000 individual fibers. Short-staple fibers (shorter than 1 1/8″), long-staple fibers (1 1/8″ to 1 1/4″ in length), or extra-long-staple fibers (1 3/8″ to 2″) may be found in cotton sheets. Types of cotton used to make sheets include:
Polyester: Polyester is a durable synthetic fabric that mimics the softness and light weight of cotton. It may be blended with other fabrics (such as cotton or rayon) to create a blended material, or finely woven into microfibers.
Lyocell (Tencel®): Lyocell is the generic term for cellulose-based rayon that is produced from wood pulp. Like polyester, it is a synthetic fabric (not a natural fiber, despite some marketing claims) that mimics the softness of cotton. Lyocell requires less chemical processing than other synthetic and natural fibers, and some consider it a more eco-friendly option — though it should never be considered natural or organic. Tencel® lyocell, a trademarked material, is made from eucalyptus tree pulp. This is the most common type of lyocell found in sheets sold today.
Bamboo: Bamboo can be a misleading term when used in conjunction with sheets. The material is not made directly from bamboo plants; instead, bamboo pulp is processed with chemicals to create a synthetic rayon-viscose fiber. The result is similar to lyocell in terms of softness and buoyancy, but bamboo requires more chemicals and energy than lyocell; as a result, bamboo is considered less eco-friendly.
Silk: Silk is a natural protein secreted by silkworms that can be woven into a luxury fabric that is cool, breathable, and exceptionally lightweight, as well as hypoallergenic.
Linen: Linen is a natural fiber produced from the flax plant. It is exceptionally breathable and lightweight, but stiffer and more absorbent than cotton.
The table below looks at some pros, cons, and product details associated with the fibers discussed above.
|Sheet Material||Natural or Synthetic?||Average Cost||Pros||Cons|
|Egyptian Cotton||Natural||$$$||Luxurious material|
Exceptional softness, coolness, and smoothness
|Prone to wrinkling|
|Pima Cotton||Natural||$$||Exceptional softness, coolness, and smoothness|
|Prone to wrinkling|
|Upland Cotton||Natural||$||Widely available|
|Not as soft as other cottons|
|Flannel||Natural||$$||Warmer than other natural fibers|
|Not as breathable as other cottons|
Durable and stain-resistant
|Prone to wrinkling|
Not as breathable as other fibers
|Lyocell (Tencel®)||Synthetic||$$||Eco-friendly processing|
Exceptional softness and coolness
|Not as breathable as other fibers|
Can feel damp to the touch
|Bamboo||Synthetic||$$$||Exceptional softness and coolness|
|Processing not as eco-friendly|
Exceptional softness and coolness
|Hand wash or dry clean only|
|Linen||Natural||$$$||Exceptional softness and coolness|
Durable and absorbent
|Too stiff for some|
Next, let’s discuss pillow cases. A pillow case is a zippered or non-zippered covering used to enclose pillows and provide a thin barrier between the sleeper’s head/body and the pillow itself, which is often coarse to the touch. Pillow cases have an opening on one side, into which the pillow is inserted.
Materials: Pillow cases are usually made from some of the same materials as sheets. Cotton and polyester pillow cases are most common, but some models are also made from materials like silk, linen, or rayon from bamboo. Like sheets, pillow cases made from cotton often advertise their thread count. Although personal preference plays a role, most consumers agree that pillow counts with a thread count of 300 to 600 provide the ideal softness.
Sizing: Size is key with pillow cases. If a case is too large, then gaps may form between the pillow and the cover that result in sleeper discomfort. On the other hand, pillow cases that are too small may cause the pillow insert to awkwardly protrude from the opening. Excessively small pillow cases may also require excessive pulling to remove the pillow insert on laundry day; this can compromise the structural integrity of both the insert and the case.
Zippered pillow cases can somewhat mitigate the sizing problem by completely containing the pillow insert, but if the case is too small then this may cause the insert to become lumpy and misshapen, which can be quite uncomfortable.
Pillow cases should not be confused with pillow shams, which do not have an opening on either side; rather, they open with a flap in the back into which the pillow insert is tucked. Pillow shams are normally used for decorative pillows, although shams made from fabrics like cotton and polyester may be used for sleeping pillows as well.
Next, let’s discuss the thicker, heavier covers that sleepers usually use for warmth and insulation.
A blanket refers to the insulating layer between the top sheet and the comforter. Some sleepers prefer to tuck their blankets into the sides of their mattress for extra warmth, while others let the blanket rest freely on the top sheet. Either way, blankets are sized slightly longer and wider than mattresses to provide some overlap on the sides. Blankets are generally available in four sizes:
|Blanket Size||Blanket Dimensions||Suitable Mattress Size||Mattress Dimensions|
|Twin||66W” x 90L”||Twin|
|38-39W” x 75L”|
38-39W” x 80L”
|Full or Double||80W” x 90L”||Full or Double||53-54W” x 75L”|
|Full/Queen||90W x 90L”||Full or Double|
|53-54W” x 75L”|
60W” x 80L”
|Queen||90W” x 90-100L”||Queen||60W” x 80L”|
|King||108W” x 90-100L”||King|
|76W” x 80L”|
72W” x 84L”
Unlike sheets — which are almost always woven — blankets may be produced using weaving, knitting, or quilting techniques.
Weaving styles used for blankets include the following:
Unlike weaving, which involves yarns being twisted together to create a fabric, knitting involves a continuous thread featuring a series of proportional loops. There are no warp or weft threads in knitting; rather, new loops are pulled through existing loops to create an interloping structure. Knitted yarns have better circulation than woven fabrics due to the openings between the loops, and knit blankets tend to be drapier.
Quilting, unlike knitting or weaving, requires two or more layers of fabric to be sewn together. Quilting can be done by hand, or with a sewing machine. Most quilts consist of three components:
Quilted blankets are somewhat rare compared to woven or knit varieties, and the technique is more commonly associated with heavier quilted covers that are used as bedspreads (see below).
Common fabrics used to make blankets include:
Cotton: Cotton is a popular choice for cooler, lightweight blankets. Due to its relative durability, cotton is also machine washable. However, these blankets are not usually suitable for year-round temperature neutrality; depending on the construction, they may be too cool or too warm for certain times of the year.
Wool: Natural wool extracted from sheep is dense and highly durable. The material also wicks away moisture and offers exceptional temperature neutrality; it will keep sleepers warm during the colder months, and is also breathable enough for warm weather. Two notable downsides: many people are allergic to natural wool, and wool blankets can be somewhat pricey.
Cashmere: Cashmere comes from goats, not sheep, but shares many of the same properties as wool. However, cashmere blankets are usually much more expensive than wool blankets.
Polyester: Polyester blankets are considered a low-price alternative to all-cotton blankets, as they provide the same softness and are just as durable. However, polyester is not as breathable as cotton, and the material is a known conductor of static electricity.
Fleece: Fleece is a synthetic version of wool. It is usually cheaper than wool without sacrificing warmth or density, and may be a good alternative for sleepers with wool allergies. Unlike wool, however, fleece may be too warm for certain times of the year.
Acrylic: Acrylic is a synthetic alternative to wool or cashmere that is warm and hypoallergenic. It is also lighter than these other materials, and acrylic blankets tend to be cheaper. However, acrylic — like polyester — has static potential and is also susceptible to pilling, a form of wear and tear that causes balls of fabric to form on the surface.
The table below lists some product details, pros, and cons of these six common blanket materials:
|Blanket Material||Natural or Synthetic?||Average Cost||Pros||Cons|
|Cotton||Natural||$||Exceptional softness and breathability|
|Not warm/cool enough for some|
|Wool||Natural||$$||Exceptional softness and breathability|
|Cashmere||Natural||$$$||Exceptional softness and breathability|
Durable and stain-resistant
|Not as breathable as cotton|
|Too warm for some|
Susceptible to pilling
Some people prefer to supplement their primary blanket with a throw blanket, which is smaller and usually used as a foot-warmer. Throw blankets may also be used for decorative purposes. These blankets are typically made from the same materials as standard sleeping blankets.
Additionally, electric blankets are widely available for sleepers who require a little extra warmth. Electric blankets are always made from synthetic fabrics, and are designed with heating wires integrated in the fabric. When the blanket is plugged in, the fabric heats up; most electric blankets come with a controller that allows users to adjust the temperature, and some feature dual climate-control for multiple sleepers. As a safety precaution, electric blankets should never be placed directly on top of other blankets or comforters, and children should never use them.
Next, let’s look at bedspreads. The term bedspread refers to any cover used as the top bedding layer. Bedspreads sold today typically fall into one of two categories: comforters and duvets. These terms are often used synonymously, but they are technically different.
A comforter, by definition, is a single-piece bedding cover that is filled with down, feathers, wool, or down alternative synthetic fibers. All four sides of the comforter are stitched or quilted to prevent the fill from escaping. A duvet, on the other hand, consists of two components: the duvet insert and the duvet cover. The duvet insert, like a comforter, is filled with down or synthetic fibers. The duvet cover is similar to a pillow case, and features an opening on one side for the insert. Most duvet covers are made from cotton or a blend of cotton and other fabrics (such as polyester).
However, one thing to note is that comforters can double as duvet inserts when placed inside a duvet cover.
The table below lists general similarities and differences between comforters and duvets.
|Type of Bedspread||Comforter||Duvet|
|Type(s) of Fill||Down|
|Used with a cover?||Not normally, although comforters can be used with duvet covers||Yes|
|Machine washable?||Usually; some models should be professionally cleaned only (check care tag)||The duvet cover is usually washable, but the duvet insert should be professionally cleaned|
|Other bedding||A comforter should be used with a top sheet||A duvet is a standalone bedspread that does not require a top sheet or other bedding accessories|
In terms of sizing, both comforters and duvets should match the mattress size (i.e., a Queen-size comforter or duvet should be purchased for a Queen-size bed). Comforters are often larger than the mattress itself, resulting in overhang on the sides. Duvets match the mattress size more closely, resulting in less overhang.
As the table indicates, comforters and duvets vary in terms of fill (also known as batting). Common fills for bedspreads include the following:
In some cases, down is combined with feathers or down alternative for the fill. The ratio of down to feathers/down alternative will vary, but most comforters and duvets labeled as ‘down’ have at least 70% down.
When comparing different types of down/feather fill, it’s important to consider fill power. This term refers to how light and fluffy the material feels, as well as the overall quality of the fill. The higher the fill power, the better the quality. Fill power generally ranges from 400 to 800. Fill power is also associated with fill weight. Generally speaking, the lighter the fill, the higher the fill power, and vice versa.
Additionally, wool and silk may be used as fill for comforters or duvets.
The table below lists some notable product details, pros, and cons associated with comforters and duvets with different batting types.
|Comforter/Duvet Fill Material||Natural or Synthetic?||Average Comforter/Duvet Cost||Pros||Cons|
|Feathers||Natural||$$||Heavier for better insulation|
Cheaper than down
|‘Poke’ potential from quills|
Material may escape
|Down||Natural||$$$||Minimal risk of escaping material|
|Less insulating than feathers|
|Down Alternative||Synthetic (usually polyester-based)||$||Hypoallergenic|
Not as soft or insulating as natural materials
|Wool||Natural||$$$||Year-round temperature neutrality|
Exceptional warmth and softness
Selecting duvet covers is akin to choosing sheets and pillow cases. Criteria to consider include:
Now that we’ve discussed the various types of sheets, blankets, and other types of bedding, let’s look at some important factors to take into account when shopping for new bedding and comparing different brands.
Now, let’s reveal the top-rated bedding products. The following table lists our five picks for the best sheet sets that are currently available for sale. The sheet sets listed below include a top sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillow cases. All customer satisfaction ratings are generated using authentic customer and owner reviews.
|Brand||Comfy Sheets||Mellanni||Pinzon by Amazon||Threadmill Home Linen||Tribeca Living|
|Price (est.)||$100||$40 (Queen)||$48 (Queen)||$72 (Queen)||$89 (Queen)|
|Material||Egyptian cotton||Cotton||Egyptian cotton||XL-Staple cotton||Cotton|
|Max. Pocket Depth||18″||16″||18″||15″||22″|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||94% (234 customer reviews)||857% (621 customer reviews)||85% (543 customer reviews)||93% (192 customer reviews)||85% (105 customer reviews)|
The next four tables lists our top-rated blankets and bedspreads. The first table features our blanket picks.
|Brand||Balichun Luxury Fleece Blanket||Bedsure Luxury Blanket||Pendleton Yakima Camp Blanket||QBedding Inc. All Season Blanket||Utopia Bedding Polar Fleece Blanket|
|Price (est.)||$35||$22 (Queen)||$149||$20||$18|
|Material||Fleece||Fleece||Virgin wool and cotton||Fleece||Fleece|
|Sizes||Queen (90×90)||Twin (60×80)|
|Weight||4.8 lbs.||4.3 lbs.||6.8 lbs.||1.7 lbs.||2.8 lbs.|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||93% (1,509 customer reviews)||89% (3,893 customer reviews)||97% (268 customer reviews)||94% (1,688 customer reviews)||92% (3,259 customer reviews)|
The second table lists the five highest-rated comforters according to owners and customers. Although some of these products may be used as duvet inserts with duvet comforters, they are primarily designed to be standalone comforters.
|Brand||Egyptian Bedding Hungarian Goose Down Comforter||Globon||Organic Textiles||Pacific Coast Year Round Warmth Comforter||Silk Camel Luxury Comforter|
|Price (est.)||$130 (F/Q)||$179 (Queen)||$190 (Queen)||$90 (F/Q)||$167 (Queen)|
|Outer Material||Cotton||Cotton||Organic cotton||Cotton||Cotton|
|Fill Power (Down only)||750||600||—||650||—|
|Fill Weight (Queen)||50 oz. (F/Q)||45 oz.||13.5 oz./sq. yard||40.5 oz. (F/Q)||340 g.|
|Twin/Twin XL (68×90)|
Cali King (108×96)
|Weight||8.6 lbs.||8.6 lbs.||4 lbs.||5.6 lbs.||3.5 lbs.|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||92% (582 customer reviews)||91% (62 customer reviews)||85% (68 customer reviews)||87% (597 customer reviews)||98% (107 customer reviews)|
The next table lists our top five duvet inserts. Please note that some of these products are listed as comforters or duvet comforters, but they are designed to be used with a cover — thus making them duvet inserts.
|Price (est.)||$140||$120||$170||$50 (Queen)||$26 (Queen)|
|Fill||Down/feather||Down||Down/feathers||Down alternative||Down alternative|
|Fill Weight (Queen)||45 oz.||42 oz.||55 oz.||100 oz.||N/A|
|Twin/Twin XL (68×90)|
|Weight||8.9 lbs.||6.8 lbs.||7.7 lbs.||9 lbs.||6.7 lbs.|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||97% (119 customer reviews)||90% (266 customer reviews)||93% (337 customer reviews)||91% (3,243 customer reviews)||93% (6,289 customer reviews)|
Lastly, let’s look at the top-rated duvet covers based on owner and customer feedback. In some cases, pillow shams are included with the duvet cover.
|Brand||Brooklinen||Cotton Snail||Italian Luxury||Linentown||Loomstead|
|Price (est.)||$95 (F/Q)||$52 (Queen)||$30 (F/Q)||$38 (F/Q)||$209 (Queen)|
|Thread Count||270||400||N/A||600||100 (est.)|
|Pillow Shams Included?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||98% (1,345 customer reviews)||85% (342 customer reviews)||94% (327 customer reviews)||83% (80 customer reviews)||90% (92 customer reviews)|
In addition to the bedding accessories we’ve discussed above, this section will look at three bedding components that offer extra comfort, support, and cushioning.
Pillows: Pillow selection often comes down to two factors: loft (or thickness) and material composition.
Pillow loft typically falls into three general categories. When determining loft, you should take your head size, shoulder width, body weight, and mattress firmness into account. The table below looks at criteria for calculating loft.
|Loft Category||Thickness||Optimal Head Size||Optimal Weight||Optimal Shoulder Width||Optimal Mattress Firmness|
|Low||Less than 3″||Small||More than 230 lbs.||Narrow||Soft to Medium Soft|
|Medium||3″ to 5″||Average||130 to 230 lbs.||Average||Medium|
|High||More than 5″||Large||Less than 130 lbs.||Broad||Medium Firm to Firm|
In terms of material composition, some pillow materials — such as buckwheat, latex, and memory foam — conform closer for better pressure relief and provide better support, but these models typically have higher price-points. Other pillows materials, such as polyester and down alternative, are associated with cheaper prices and lower owner satisfaction.
For more information about pillows, please check out our Best Pillows — Buying Guide and Information page.
Mattress Toppers: A mattress topper is an individual layer of cushioning that is placed on top of the mattress for added comfort and support. Toppers typically reduce the firmness of the sleep surface, but some toppers can make softer mattresses feel firmer. Materials used for toppers include memory foam, wool, latex, feathers, and convoluted polyfoam; toppers may cost anywhere from $10 to $400, depending on the material composition.
The table below lists optimal topper settings based on sleep position and sleeper weight.
|Sleep Position||Weight Group||Ideal Firmness||Ideal Topper Thickness||Ideal Topper Density|
|Side||Less than 130 lbs||Soft to Medium Soft||1″ to 2″||2.5 PCF and lower|
|130 to 230 lbs||Medium Soft to Medium||2″ to 2 1/2″||3 to 4 PCF|
|More than 230 lbs||Medium Firm to Firm||2″ to 3″||4 PCF and higher|
|Back||Less than 130 lbs||Medium Soft to Medium Firm||1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″||2.5 to 3 PCF|
|130 to 230 lbs||Medium to Firm||2″ to 3″||3.5 to 5 PCF|
|More than 230 lbs||Medium Firm to Firm||2″ to 3″||4.5 PCF and higher|
|Stomach||Less than 130 lbs||Medium Soft to Medium Firm||1″ to 1 1/2″||3 PCF and lower|
|130 to 230 lbs||Medium Firm to Firm||1″ to 2″||2.5 to 4 PCF|
|More than 230 lbs||Firm to Extra Firm||2″ to 3″||3.5 to 4.5 PCF|
For more information about mattress toppers, please visit our Best Mattress Toppers guide.
Mattress Pads and Protectors: Not to be confused with mattress toppers, mattress pads keep mattresses are primarily designed to keep mattresses safe from stains, contaminants, and physical damage; they may also be thick enough to provide moderate comfort adjustments. Mattress protectors, on the other hand, are solely designed to safeguard mattresses from stains, contaminants, and physical damage; they provide virtually no comfort adjustment. Other key differences between mattress pads and mattress protectors are outlined in the table below.
|Product||Mattress Pad||Mattress Protector|
|Primary Function||To act as a mattress barrier and protect the bed from contaminants, as well as minor comfort adjustment||To protect the mattress from both contaminants and liquid spills|
|Average Thickness||1″ or less||1″ or less|
|Average Weight||4 lbs or less||4 lbs or less|
|Mattress Protection Level||Moderate to High||High|
|Comfort Adjustment Level||Low to Moderate||Low|
|Average Cost||$20 to $35||$20 to $50|
To learn more, check out our Best Mattress Pads and Protectors page.
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