Design Help Line: Battle of the Bedding

By Charlotte Latvala

Fewer things in life are more personal than your bed. After all, you spend a third of your life snoozing, so your bedding has your footprint all over it, literally. So it comes as no surprise that people have strong opinions about things like top sheets and duvets. And when you have two people with different opinions sleeping on the same bed, well, you might be in for a battle. Allow us to offer a totally objective perspective on bedding to help you settle your differences.

Q: My partner and I can’t stop arguing about using a top sheet. She thinks it’s necessary – I don’t. Is there a right or wrong way?​

A: There’s no right or wrong way to make the bed. Your Great Aunt Gertrude might be horrified to hear you don’t use a top sheet, but the reality is many people today go European style and slip between a fitted sheet and duvet every night. On the other hand, many of us just can’t get to sleep unless there’s a top sheet between our skin and the rest of the covers.

There are pros and cons to both styles. If you ditch the top sheet, making the bed in the morning is easier, because there’s no extra piece of bedding to fuss with. (It also doesn’t wind up bunched up around your feet in the middle of the night.)

However, a flat sheet is a handy thing to have on those nights when temperatures fluctuate. If you’re warm but still want a thin layer of insulation, the top sheet is your go-to covering.

Another purpose of the top sheet is to create a barrier between your body—with its oils, sweat, and secretions—and bedding you wash less often, like quilts, blankets, and comforters. If you forego a flat sheet, you might want to consider something else for that protective function, like a duvet with a washable cover (see below). So, instead of arguing about using a top sheet, change the conversation to who’s going to be responsible for washing the quilts, if you don’t use one. And let’s not forget: You could always sleep on top of the flat sheet and let her nestle beneath it.

Q: I want a duvet and my partner wants a comforter. How do we choose between the two?

A: First, make sure you’re talking about the same thing. The terms “duvet” and “comforter” are sometimes used interchangeably. A duvet is a puffy quilt, usually white or cream-colored, filled with feathers, down, or synthetic material. It slips into a duvet cover like a Boy Scout into a sleeping bag. The advantage? The duvet cover—because it’s meant to come off and can be washed frequently—functions like a top sheet, collecting body oils and surface dirt. Another perk: Duvet covers are relatively inexpensive, so you can change the cover with the season, or whenever you want a new look.

A comforter, on the other hand, is an all-in-one unit. It’s a bit thinner, but you never have to unbutton and remove anything to clean it, as you would with a duvet cover. Many comforters can be tossed in the wash at home. However, because you don’t wash it as often as a duvet cover, you should almost always use a top sheet with a comforter.

As with the first question, the easiest way to settle this debate is to ask how frequently you want to wash your bedding. Not using a top sheet? Choose a duvet with a washable cover. Using a top sheet? Opt for a comforter. Still can’t decide? Trade off from week to week. After all, compromise is the heart of any good relationship, even when it comes to bedding.

Ready to call a truce and get the best sheets ever? Check out these 100 percent organic cotton percale sheets from DreamCloud. After one night of amazing sleep, you’ll be way too happy to argue!

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