Making the Bed: A Guide to the Basics of a Comfortable Rest


With all of our busy schedules and running from place to place, we're lucky to find a night where we get a full 8 hours of sleep.  Are you making the best of the sleep hours you do get by ensuring your bed is designed to be the most comfortable, sleep-friendly bed possible?

 Photo: Real Simple
When designing, our primary focus tends to be directed toward the "stylish" aspect of the bed: the headboard, the duvet, the shams, the bedskirt, and so on.  It makes sense, as these are the things that make our bed and rooms lovely to look at.  But, hidden beneath the fabric and pattern, are the things that make the bed heavenly to sink into at the end of the day.  Lets talk a bit about the often-unrecognized components behind a good night's sleep: 

  • Thread count: Many assume that the highest thread count must be the best quality sheet, and while this is one element, it's actually the make up of the fiber that is most important in selecting sheets.  Most often you will see cotton and cotton/polyester blend.  The advantages to buying the blend are that the sheets will be less likely to wrinkle and less expensive, however, cotton sheets will be softer, cooler, and easier to clean.  And as we all know, particularly with the heat of this summer, cooler can be a very important characteristic! (Do you find yourself flipping your pillow to the "cool" side?)  

  • Fibers: Cotton sheets are available in several different kinds of cotton; those with longest fibers are the softest and most comfortable, such as Egyptian and Pima cotton.  Also pay attention to the weave of the fabric as it affects texture and price.  Percale is a plain weave with a higher thread count.  Sateen weaves are extremely soft, but are also more prone to pilling than a plain weave. And then there is silk...ahhhh!  Silk sheets provide natural comfort in response to your own body temperature.  They keep you cool in the summer and warmer in the winter.  Some claim other magical qualities from silk sheets, such as anti-aging and healthy hair but I have to be honest... can't really say I believe that!  Silk sheets are a little different, in addition to thread count you need to consider momme weight (measure of the silk fibers).   You want to look for weights between 12 and 20 to ensure long-lasting durability.

     Photo: Elle Decor
    • Size: Another important element, particularly with today's mattresses, is the depth of the pocket.  For most mattresses, you want to be sure it will fit the mattress depth. Be sure to check that the sheet will accommodate that measure because there is nothing more aggravating than sheets that don't quite fit and continuously pop off.
    • Mattress Pad: When choosing a mattress pad, also look for 100% cotton content.  It will be more comfortable and more durable than its cotton/polyester blend counterparts.  Pay attention to whether a thread count is noted.  A higher thread count can mean a mattress pad that is able to stand up to more wear and tear.  A down-alternative fill in the quilting of a mattress pad will be the thickest, most comfortable option, however most mattress pads will have a polyester fill (which is better for ease of laundering).  As long as the mattress pad has substantial thickness, a polyester fill is a good option.
     Photo: Google Images
      • Feather Topper (or Down Alternative): Feather toppers are sometimes grouped with mattress pads, however, they can be placed either in lieu of a mattress pad or on top of the mattress pad, but below the fitted sheet, for added cushion.  Feather toppers can be made out of down, a mixture of down and feathers, or down alternative.  Down is the longest lasting and softest choice, however for allergy sufferers, down alternative is an excellent option.  Pay attention to how the feather topper is quilted.  Most will have stitching in either a channel or box pattern.  Box quilting allows for a more even spread of the down as it keeps in smaller sections and prevents it from concentrating in one area.
       Photo: Pure Living Collection
        • Pillows: Did you know that experts say pillows should be selected based on the type of sleeper you are?  I admit, this is another one of those "gray" areas... not sure I'm convinced; I just go for whats most comfortable.  That aside, experts advise that if you sleep on your stomach, you'll want to use a soft pillow.  Back sleeper? Try a medium pillow.  For side sleepers, a firm pillow is your best bet.  Whether you opt for synthetic fiber-fill, foam or down will depend on your budget and allergies.  Synthetic pillows are obviously much less expensive, but also last only a couple years.  Down pillows can last five to ten years, though make sure you find a down with a high fill, meaning the volume that one ounce of down takes up within the pillow.  There are also memory foam pillows which are extremely firm, and great for those with neck or spine issues.
         Photo: Real Simple
        Now you should be armed with the knowledge necessary to put together the best night's sleep you've ever had.  Beneath the layers of beautiful bedding, you'll have the bedding basics that will make every night unbelievably comfortable.

        Photo: My Home Ideas
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