image of top sheet on bed

The Top Sheet Debate: Do You Really Need a Top Sheet on Your Bed?

by
/ October 29, 2021

Top sheets have been a topic of debate for quite some time now. Most people either just sleep with a comforter and fitted sheet, while others decide to use a flat sheet as well. In fact, whether or not millennials use top sheets has even become a trending topic among media outlets in recent years. 

But are they necessary? And why does anyone use them in the first place? 

It turns out sleeping with a top sheet is a thoroughly American bedding trend. Europeans tend to favor a fitted bottom sheet and a duvet only. So why do some people love top sheets and others hate them? 

Settling the top sheet debate

The great bedding debate has been causing arguments between millennials for a while now. There are solid arguments for each side. 

Anti-top sheet people say it's an unnecessary inconvenience in the morning when they make their bed and it just ends up at the foot of the bed before the night is over anyway.

Pro-top sheet people say it's more hygienic and generally more comfortable to sleep with the additional layer of bedding. 

But who's the winner? Let's take a look at the numbers from USA Today's 2018 poll

As it turns out, about 70% of Americans sleep with a top sheet and about 27% of Americans sleep without a top sheet. The other 3% claim to sleep with no sheets at all.

Before you make your final decision, let's take a look at the pros of sleeping with and without a top sheet.

Pros of sleeping with a top sheet

It turns out many people don’t even think twice about whether or not they should be using a top sheet. But there are a few benefits to using one, including:

  • It keeps you from having to frequently wash your comforter. We shed millions of bacteria and skin cells every hour, making it necessary to change our sheets approximately every two weeks. If you don't use a top sheet and your comforter doesn't have a protective cover, you're going to want to pencil in some extra time for weekly laundry sessions. However, if you use a top sheet, your duvet cover will only need to be washed monthly and your comforter will only need to be washed a few times per year.
  • It's a great alternative to a heavy blanket during warmer weather. In the spring and summer, you can ditch your comforter altogether and just use a top sheet when it's hot outside. When your body gets too hot, this makes it harder to get a restful night's sleep. You can also get a sheet set made out of materials with a high thread count like organic cotton and percale for additional cooling effects. If you'd like to opt for something warmer, sateen might be a good option for you.
  • It's comfortable. Simply put: Sleeping with a top sheet is cozy. If you feel more comfortable with a top sheet, the extra layer can help you fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep overall. 

Pros of sleeping without a top sheet

Now for the flip side of things: Here's what the anti-top sheet crowd has to say about why you shouldn't sleep with one.

  • It's easier to make your bed. According to the National Sleep Foundationmaking your bed in the morning will help you get a good night's sleep. Having one less layer to worry about smoothing out makes the bed-making process less of a hassle in the morning and could help improve the start of your day.
  • You have more freedom to move around. Some people don't like being tucked under too many layers of bed linens. Ditching your top sheet gives you more mobility. 
  • It's unnecessary. One of the biggest arguments against top sheets is they don't add any value to your bed. They add an unnecessary layer to your bedding that will mostly just get in the way. If you're a restless sleeper, they can actually wind up making your bedding much less comfortable. With a lot of movement throughout the night, a top sheet might just wind up at the bottom of your bed in the morning. 
  • You can sleep cooler. Without an extra layer of bedding, you'll be able to sleep cooler with just a duvet cover. Sleeping without a top sheet may be better for regulating body temperature throughout the night, especially if you're already sleeping on a memory foam mattress or mattress topper that can trap heat. 

Check out Saatva's top sheet suggestions

At the end of the day, whether or not you use a top sheet entirely depends on your personal preferences. So, put the bedding debate aside and just do whichever one feels better for you.

If you've decided a top sheet is right for you, check out our selection of comfortable bed sheets, pillowcases, and bedding sets. We offer everything from organic cotton sheets to linen sheets so you can find an option that suits you. If you decide to go without a top sheet, don't throw it away: Here are our top 15 things to do with old sheets.

christina heiser

Christina Heiser

Christina Heiser is the senior content manager at Saatva. She has held previous positions at Everyday Health, Women's Health, and L'Oréal. When she's not working, you can find Christina checking out the latest boutique fitness classes in New York City, cheering on her college basketball team (go Red Storm!), and trying new beauty and wellness trends.

you may also like