In 2019, Casper released a study that asked the age-old question: are Americans over top sheets? Fifty-eight percent of Americans agreed or strongly agreed that a top sheet was necessary. Older Americans—Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials—primarily made up the majority, while 18% of people 18-24, or Gen Z, felt strongly against using a top sheet.
Although they may not be popular in Europe, top sheets can contribute to your sleep experience in more ways than one. For instance, top sheets regulate your temperature. In the summer, they may be the only thing you need to sleep with, and in the winter, they can add some additional fuzzy, cuddly warmth that a comforter doesn’t provide. They also catch your skin cells, fungi, bacteria, pollen, soil, sweat, fluid, excretions, and other icky aspects of your body and prevent them from seeping into your comforter and duvet. It’s not easy to throw a comforter in the washing machine, but a top sheet, no problem!
Top sheets generally come with the purchase of a sheet set (so all the sheets match); however, you can always buy top sheets on their own too. While price, color, and style may affect your purchase, materials and thread count will likely be the most important things to consider. Read on to find our favorite top sheets and how to shop for the one that’s best for you.
· Size: Top sheets are sold in mattress sizes (Twin, Queen, King, etc.), however, if your mattress is exceptionally tall, you may want to order a size up so that there is plenty of fabric to tuck between the mattress and the bed frame.
· Materials: Top sheets can be made of bamboo, cotton, silk, linen, microfiber, percale, jersey, flannel, and Tencel. Some are organically or sustainably made, and others are not. Different fabrics will feel differently on your skin, so you’ll have to consider what feels best to you.
· Thread count: Thread count is a good indicator for how soft a sheet will feel. Although some will say that the higher the thread count, the softer the sheet, that’s not entirely true for all materials. Scroll to our FAQ section for some good tips on thread count.
The Best Top Sheets: At a Glance
Calvin Klein’s Harrison Cotton Blend Jersey Knit Flat Sheet
What the Experts Say
To top sheet or not to top sheet is the question here, and according to Ariel Kaye, founder of Parachute, whether you use a top sheet is entirely up to you. “Here at Parachute, we feel that a top sheet is not an essential part of your bedding, in fact, 40% of Americans don’t sleep with a top sheet. Our sheet sets are sold with the option to add on a top sheet if you like the extra layer,” she says.
Tanner Saunders, Senior Hotels Reports for The Points Guy, has slept in hundreds of hotels around the world—and he’s found that a top sheet adds an additional layer of coziness. “A top sheet can help regulate temperature and I love getting into a cool bed at night and waking up feeling all warm,” he said. “Plus, my partner moves around while sleeping so I usually end up taking control of the top sheet once the comforter starts moving with him.” Like most products, top sheets are subject to trends. Kaye said that Parachute is starting to see customers caring about how their bedding is made which can affect the color choices of a top sheet, as well as stylistic traits like stitching. Buyers are also becoming more aware of how important eco-friendly top sheets can be to their sleep experience.
“As bedding comes in direct contact with your skin, it is important to invest in OEKO-TEX certified sheets,” Kaye says. “OEKO-TEX certified materials mean they have passed strict testing and are free from harmful levels of over 100 substances known to be dangerous to humans and the environment.” Saunders brought up a great trend in top sheets, one that he, himself, takes part in. “As a hotel reporter, I’ve tried to make my bed feel like a luxe hotel room, so I gravitate towards classic white sheets to fit that aesthetic,” he says. “If you happen to love the sheets on a bed at a hotel, ask what kind they are. Many hotels sell bedding so you can recreate the entire hotel bed experience at home.”
It can be daunting to choose among the different fabric options and thread count, but if you’re going to sleep under a top sheet, it will help to know how, as Kaye says, “each fabric has its own benefits depending on your sleep style. For me, the best sheets in the world are classic, high-thread-count cotton sheets. I’ve tried a lot of others, and even went through a phase where I loved jersey sheets, but at the end of the day, nothing beats high-quality cotton,” Saunders says. “Right now, I’m sleeping on a set of Sateen sheets that are super soft and breathable.”
Parachute Organic Cotton Top Sheet
Parachute may be known these days as an all-around home and furniture brand, but it started out in bedding, so it’s not surprising that our favorite top sheet is the Parachute Organic Cotton Top Sheet. Made with 100% organic cotton that is OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified, this top sheet has a crisp and clean feeling. Part of the Parachute dyeing process involves washing the top sheet until the colors look more natural and the cotton sheet feels exceptionally soft. One of the underrated (but best) things about this top sheet is that it’s larger than most which means it’ll be easier to tuck into your mattress. The fact that you can choose from four colors, two classic (white and willow) and two seasonal (currently, bisque and shale), is a bonus.
Calvin Klein’s Harrison Cotton Blend Jersey Knit Flat Sheet
Want to feel like you’re sleeping under your softest T-shirt at night? Look no further than the Harrison Cotton Blend Jersey Knit Flat Sheet. Calvin Klein knows a thing or two about jersey knit fabric so it’s no wonder that they offer this warm and cozy flat sheet composed of 51 percent cotton and 49 percent modal. For those who don’t know, modal is an eco-friendly fabric made from spinning beech tree cellulose—so this flat sheet is more sustainable too! Wayfair offers this jersey knit flat sheet in a variety of colors like blue, ivory, midnight (black), pink, gray, indigo, white, and burgundy. Final note: jersey knit does better at retaining heat so it’s a solid choice for cooler seasons like winter, spring, or fall.
Legends Hotel Relaxed Linen Fit Sheet
When you’re ready to swap your winter top sheet for something lightweight in the summer, consider the Legends Hotel Relaxed Linen Fit Sheet. Linen is one of the world’s oldest textiles, made from the woven fibers of flax. This top sheet is breathable and will wick away moisture keeping you dry, cool, and clean. Because it has been pre-washed (and pre-shrunk), this linen is already pretty soft, but The Company Store promises that it’ll become even more softer to the touch with each wash thereafter.
We love the look of linen on a bed, especially this Legends Hotel Relaxed Linen Fit Sheet. This linen top sheet provides a textured look that goes with different bedroom designs. Depending on the color you choose: parchment, white, gray, teal, moss green, and clay. Your bed can have a breezy boho look or lean toward sophisticated chic.
Bare Home Hydro-Brushed Microfiber Flat Top Sheet
The Bare Home Hydro-Brushed Microfiber Flat Top Sheet is your go-to affordable top sheet. Made of microfiber, this top sheet doesn’t cost as much as cotton or linen top sheets but that’s not to say that it’s low quality. In fact, this microfiber top sheet is super soft, and a great choice for hot sleepers because it’s lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking. Best yet, it’s hypoallergenic, OEKO-TEX certified, and it won’t shrink or wrinkle in the same way a cotton-based top sheet would.
SIJO AiryWeight Eucalyptus Flat Top Sheet
The SIJO AiryWeight Eucalyptus Flat Sheet is made with TENCEL lyocell fiber which is another way of saying it’s made from eucalyptus fibers. SIJO took the pulp of FSC & PEFC-certified eucalyptus wood and created a flat sheet that is moisture-wicking, soft, and breathable. It’s also OEKO-Tex 100 certified, and because it’s made with TENCEL, it’s naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to things like mold, dust, and mites. SIJO took it one step further and added a silver ion anti-microbial treatment that will limit the spread of bacteria and fungi.
SilkSilky 25Momme Mulberry Silk Seamless Flat Sheet
The SilkSilky 25Momme Mulberry Silk Seamless Flat Sheet will cost you a pretty penny but it may be well worth it. Rather than by thread count, silk sheets are measured by momme and 25Momme, indicates a truly exceptional silk sheet. (For reference, most silk pillowcases are in the 19-22 momme range, and anything above that is top-notch.) With this silk sheet, you’ll enjoy the luxurious feel of a silky, satin, and smooth fabric on your skin. Although other fabrics are considered ‘breathable,’ they’re nothing compared to the cooling and breathable properties of this flat sheet. Plus, if you have sensitive skin or deal with allergies, you’ll be glad to know that silk, and thus this sheet, is hypoallergenic. As for style, this SilkSilky 25Momme Mulberry Silk Seamless Flat Sheet lacks a cuff at the top, but at least it comes in nine color options.
William 100% Cotton Percale Flat Sheet
The William 100% Cotton Percale Flat Sheet is a good choice for the sustainable and money-savvy buyer. Because it’s made of 100% cotton percale, the fabric won’t pill after multiple washes which means it’s a more durable and long-lasting top sheet. With a 200-thread count, this flat sheet will feel smooth, crisp, and cool to the touch, and with each wash, it’ll become softer and softer. It’s a great choice for warm sleepers, thanks to its breathable qualities. Eight color options are a bonus, as is the double needle hemstitch.
L.L. Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheet, Flat
The L.L. Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheet will keep you toasty and cozy throughout the winter season. This flat sheet is made of 100% cotton flannel in such a way to remove fibers from the surface so that the flannel is as pill-resistant as it can be and will feel more velvety and softer. That’s not to say that you won’t see some lint from these sheets in the dryer, but it’ll diminish little by little with each wash, and result in a softer flannel sheet in the long run. In addition to being OEKO-TEX 100 certified, this flannel top sheet sells in eight colors.
Frequently Asked Questions About Top Sheets
What should I look for in terms of thread count?
We know that thread count will be at the top of your mind when purchasing a top sheet. Typically sheets with a 200-800 thread count will be the softest, and yet for linen, it’s much lower than that: 80-140. Silk isn’t even measured in thread count but in momme with the 17-22 momme range being of good quality (25+ is even better). Microfiber, flannel, and jersey are all in GSM. Look for microfiber sheets in the 90-120 GSM range and heavyweight and durable flannel top sheets that are 170+ GSM. The best jersey knit will be about 150 GSM.
If you still have a hard time choosing a fabric, Saunders offers a great idea: “I’d say for someone who hasn’t quite found the right sheets yet, to invest in a few different types and go back and forth between washings to decide which ones are your favorite.
What’s a reasonable price to pay for top sheets?
The top sheets presented here are sold separately from sheet sets and range from $20-$300. Synthetic materials like microfiber and jersey are cheaper than cotton, bamboo, or silk.
Still not sure whether to spend more or less? Kaye of Parachute says, “Ultimately, we think it’s best to focus on quality sheets that bring you the most comfort and the best night of sleep.”
How often should I wash my sheets?
We know it’s a hassle, but wash your sheets once a week, or else you’ll be sleeping in a den of filth and that’s not a cute look for anyone.
“Always launder according to the instructions and stay away from harsh fabric softeners to preserve the life of your bedding,” says Kaye, who recommends replacing your sheets every two years.
Do I really need a top sheet?
The debate continues…