The Best Sheets to Keep You Cool at Night
Your body temperature naturally decreases at night, a process that helps you to become drowsy and fall asleep. Research also shows that people sleep better in a cooler environment; the ideal room temperature for sleep is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. It makes sense, then, that anything that causes you to be too hot can disrupt your sleep.
Beyond setting your thermostat to the right temp, though, it's a good idea to consider the role of your bedding, since some materials sleep hotter than others. When it comes to sheets, in particular, there are a few things to look for to ensure you'll be able to enjoy a cool, comfortable night's sleep.
Some sheets are simply cooler than others (pun intended), due to several factors such as the material they're made from, the type of weave, and even their color.
Natural materials offer the best breathability and airflow. Cotton, linen, bamboo, and eucalyptus are the best materials for cooler sleep.
- Cotton, the most popular sheet fabric today, offers great airflow and moisture-wicking properties. Opt for organic cotton to get the best breathability. Because organic cotton plants are made without pesticides, they yield longer-staple fibers, resulting in a softer, more breathable fabric. (Learn more about the benefits of organic cotton.)
- Linen is another great sheet material to choose for a cool night's sleep. The highest quality linen is made from French or Belgian flax, which grows taller than flax grown in other places. The taller the flax plant, the longer the fibers taken from these plants to produce yarn. Longer fibers mean better breathability and moisture-wicking properties. Linen can absorb up to 20% of its weight in moisture before feeling wet, meaning it will keep you dry and comfortable throughout the night.
- Bamboo, a natural fabric made from the pulp of bamboo grass, is popular not only for its soft feel but also because it's hypoallergenic and highly breathable. Bamboo can take in three times more water than its weight, which means that it's extremely effective at wicking moisture away from your body.
- Lyocell (most commonly known by its brand name Tencel) is a fabric derived from the pulp of eucalyptus trees. Tencel is composed of lots of tiny hydrophilic (i.e. water-loving) fibers, meaning that it naturally absorbs moisture from your skin as you sleep.
Materials to avoid: Stay away from microfiber or polyester sheets, which tend to trap heat rather than wick it away from your body.
Related: The best bedding for sensitive skin
Our Best Sheets for Cool Sleep
The type of weave is another factor to consider when looking for the best sheets to keep you cool. The two most common types of sheet weaves are sateen and percale. Of these two, percale is the more breathable option.
Here's the technical reason why: Percale finish uses a one-yarn-over, one-yarn-under pattern. It produces fabric with a matte finish that allows excellent airflow between the threads.
Sateen, on the other hand, is a one-yarn-over, three-yarn-under weave. It exposes more thread surface, producing a sheet with a shiny and silky feel. But it's also a tighter weave than percale, meaning that it's less breathable.
Related: How to read a sheet label
Thread count refers to how many horizontal and vertical threads a sheet has per square inch. But a higher thread count doesn't necessarily equal more breathable sheets. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation recommends choosing sheets with a thread count between 200 and 400 for optimal coolness. When the thread count of your sheets is too high, the fabric won't breathe well, trapping body heat and making for a hotter, more uncomfortable night's sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends choosing sheets with a thread count between 200 and 400 for optimal coolness.
This is a reference to the number of yarns that are twisted together to make one thread. Sheets made from single-ply threads are more breathable than sheets made from multi-ply threads. Why? Single-ply threads, which are longer and stronger than multi-ply ones, result in lightweight, soft sheets. Multi-ply threads are typically made from shorter, weaker fabrics and produce a coarser, heavier yarn that won't keep you quite as cool.
One last thing to consider is color. Light-colored sheets are a better option than dark-colored ones when it comes to keeping cool. That's because light-colored sheets reflect rather than absorb the light that shines into your bedroom during the day, and so they tend to get less hot. Plus, light, neutral sheets are often made without irritating dyes.
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