A good night’s sleep is considered equally important as a healthy diet and regular exercise. However, roughly half of Americans are groggy during the day for several days out of the week. Even though sleep is one of the most important factors for strong mental and physical health, many of us aren’t getting enough.
When it comes to a good night’s rest, there are a few things that can impact how well you sleep — including your sheets. Bed sheets can impact how your mattress feels and your comfortability. If your sheets are too coarse or keep you too hot in the summer, this can negatively impact your sleep quality. However, you may not be sure which sheets to go with.
To help you get the rest you’ve been dreaming of, this article will break down the key differences between cotton and microfiber sheets.
Characteristics of Cotton Sheets
Cotton sheets are made from the cotton plant and are a highly durable fiber. For thousands of years, it’s been a popular fabric due to its versatility. Besides being extremely comfortable and breathable, cotton sheets tend to be low maintenance, resistant to moisture, and come in many varieties while being relatively affordable.
The softness and longevity of cotton sheets largely depend on the thread count — the number of warp (length) and weft (width) per square inch. Let’s say there are cotton bed sheets that are made of 200-count thread. In this instance, the cotton sheets would be made from 100 warp threads and 100 weft threads. So, higher thread counts generally tend to offer the most softness and last longer than lower thread counts.
Common Types of Cotton Sheets
There are diverse cotton sheet options to choose from depending on your desired price point and sleep needs. Here are some of the most common types of cotton bedding:
- Combed cotton: This type of cotton is incredibly smooth. This is because it’s been treated, removing any short fibers it may have acquired during the manufacturing process.
- Cotton jersey: Instead of being woven together, cotton jersey is made from cotton fabric knit together into sheets. Like T-shirts, cotton jersey bedding is comfortable, smooth, and soft.
- Egyptian cotton: Looking for a luxurious night’s sleep? Egyptian cotton is a high-end and super-soft type of bed sheet. Grown in the desert climates of North Africa, this type of cotton provides the smoothest fabric because of its extra-long staple fibers.
- Flannel: Flannel sheets are ideal for cold nights. To make flannel, cotton fabric is combed up. The fluffy fibers are soft and can trap heat, making them perfect for the coldest nights of the year. However, unlike other forms of cotton bedding, flannel sheets aren’t measured by thread count. Instead, the quality of flannel is measured by ounces per square yard.
- MicroCotton: Developed in India, MicroCotton is a trademarked brand. This cotton is very fine, soft, and absorbent due to its long-staple cotton fibers.
- Percale: Closely woven cotton fabric that has a plain weave is called percale. Percale sheets have a thread count of 180-plus and a unique texture.
- Pima cotton: This type of cotton is great for bedding as it has medium- to extra-long fibers making up the sheet. For the most part, Pima cotton is grown in the southwest U.S. and additional places. Pima cotton bedding is most notable for its softness and natural shine.
- Upland cotton: Although native to the Americas, upland cotton is grown across the globe. Generally, cotton sheets are upland cotton unless otherwise stated. Upland cotton is not as soft as other types of cotton sheets, such as Egyptian or Pima cotton.
Characteristics of Microfiber Sheets
Whether you’re looking for soft, heavy-duty, or affordable bed sheets, microfiber sheets can do the job. Microfiber bed sheets are a synthetic fabric finely woven from polyesters, polyamides, or wood pulp. This fabric is so finely woven that it’s often thinner than silk — less than one denier in diameter.
Microfiber offers trouble-free and affordable bedding that can compete with cotton sheets. And like cotton sheets, microfiber sheets come in different varieties. Some types of microfiber sheets are meant for durability, while others are designed for luxurious comfort. However, the fabric can also be blended, containing several materials to create durable yet comfortable sheets. Cotton can even be mixed in to add more breathability to the fabric.
These synthetic sheets require a mechanical process to weave the fabrics together. During this process, the incredibly thin fibers are closely woven together. When it comes to microfiber sheets, the stronger the weave, the more durable the sheets. Once the weaving process is complete, the fabric can then be dyed any color.
Understanding Grams per Square Meter of Microfiber Sheets
Like cotton, there is a way to measure the quality of microfiber sheets. In place of thread count, microfiber sheets are measured by grams per square meter (GSM), which is how heavy the fabric is. It can give you an idea of how thick, dense, and soft the sheets are. For example, if you were to choose microfiber sheets with a high GSM, you could expect a thicker, denser, and more comfortable fabric than microfiber sheets with a lower GSM.
However, too high of GSM can come at a cost. When synthetic materials are tightly woven together, it can affect the breathability of the fabric. To get the best of both worlds — durability and breathability — a GSM of about 100 is ideal.
Are Microfiber or Cotton Sheets Better?
The answer to this question isn’t straightforward — it depends on your personal preferences. For example, some people might like the cozy and soft fabric of a microfiber set of sheets for the winter months and prefer natural materials, like cotton sheets, during the warmer months. Factors such as where you live, your budget, allergies, and the temperature you prefer to sleep in will also impact the type of bedding that’s right for you.
Here are some key differences between microfiber sheet sets and cotton sheets:
- Cotton sheets are more breathable. Hot sleepers can worry less about night sweats with cotton sheets, which are not as finely woven as microfiber sheets, which can trap body heat instead. For this reason, they’re more breathable.
- Microfiber sheets tend to be less expensive. In general, synthetic materials tend to cost less than high-quality natural materials. When compared to cotton or silk, you can expect to pay less for microfiber sheets.
- Cotton sheets are more durable. Although microfiber has the power to be quite durable, cotton is generally longer lasting. This is especially true when companies produce low-quality microfiber sheets. They tend to lose softness faster and aren’t as high-quality as cotton.
- Microfiber sheets are lower maintenance. Due to how microfiber sheets are manufactured, you don’t have to worry about shrinkage when washing them. Unless cotton sheets have been pre-washed, they will often shrink when first washed. Plus, cotton sheets take longer to dry because they’re significantly thicker than microfiber sheets.
- Cotton sheets wrinkle easily. A downside of cotton sheets is that they wrinkle easily. Although you can iron wrinkling out, this is often an additional step that you may not have time for. Although microfiber sheets can wrinkle, they’re more wrinkle-resistant than cotton sheets.
- Microfiber sheets aren’t as eco-friendly. Microfiber sheets cost double the energy to manufacture than cotton. Combined with the fact that the manufacturing process emits fumes into the air and that every wash releases microfibers into our waters, they’re significantly less environmentally friendly than cotton. Plus, they’re nonbiodegradable.
- Cotton sheets are hypoallergenic. Acting like a magnet to hair, fur, and lint, microfiber can bother those with allergies and skin sensitivities. Due to their moisture-wicking properties, cotton sheets tend to be better for sensitive skin.
Discover the Ultimate in Comfort with Bedding from PlushBeds
A comfortable sleep environment is key to getting a good night’s rest. This might mean it’s time for new bedding. If you’re in the market for new sheets, PlushBeds offers both quality cotton and brushed microfiber sheet sets to give you the most comfortable sleep possible. See the difference PlushBeds can make when it comes to a good night’s rest.
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