Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On sheets

Your sheets are important. Actually, sleep is what’s important, so there’s merit in how effectively your sheets are at putting you to sleep and keeping you there until morning.

We spend up to a third of our days – and our lives – sleeping, so it behooves us to give some consideration to how we’re investing in that time in order to deepen its quality.

First of all, you probably need to replace your sheets. Many of us do. I’ve only bought three sets my entire life, the first being back in high school, so if you’re at all like me, you may need to go shopping again.

Whether you start looking for sheets this weekend or next year, bear this in mind:

You will likely find satisfaction in:

• 300-400 thread count (and no more)
Sure, you can find thread count up and over 1,000, but the sensation of the sheets – and your enjoyment of them – actually starts to decline when you try to see how high you can go. (According to Wisegeek, “anything in excess of 400 is considered by most to be simply extraneous.”) Truth be told, I paid no heed to this advice when buying my last set of sheets, and spent much more than necessary to get a thread count above a thousand. And I can tell you with certainty: although they too are Egyptian cotton, if there’s any difference in texture between them and their 400-count cousins, it’s in the way of inferiority. 

I might liken it to the first sundae we are permitted to make on our own as children, when we think to ourselves, "heck yes, I like chocolate sauce! And if a swirl of chocolate sauce is good, then I'll bet half the bottle is gonna be amazing!"  And as we all realized about a half hour after that internal dialogue: that thought process is terribly flawed. So stick to "enough" rather than "too much." 

• Egyptian cotton, silk, flannel – any material that delights your sleeping style.
Your sheets should feel awesome when you get into bed each night. They should exude “slumber” and inspire feelings of comfort, whatever that means to you. Get whatever makes you feel good. (I personally can’t sleep on what I cast off as “novelty” textures – flannel gives me the heebie-jeebies – and strongly prefer cotton. Nothing against flannel or silk – some people swear by it. It’s all personal preference.)

• Soothing color
Your sheets should be solid, first and foremost – we’re certainly not in elementary school anymore and, unless you’re running a bed and breakfast, it’s also okay to leave even the pastel floral prints back in the 90’s. Beyond that, pick a “quiet,” “cocooning” color. Beige, lilac, white, light gray… whatever suits you (and your partner, if applicable.) Even navy or pewter gray, though they’re dark, make nice colors – they’re perfect for pulling over one’s head when the sunlight comes in a bit too charismatically in the morning.  

You will likely get little satisfaction from:

• Name brand
I’m guilty of indulging in this…. But it was back in adolescence, and I look back on it and wonder what I was thinking. What is the point of name brand sheets? You’re certainly not showing them off to anybody (please tell me you’re not dragging your guests into the Master bedroom and throwing back the covers…) So, why? There’s something peculiar and psychological about it, I know, but having been there, I can say: not necessary.

• More than one set
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity… how long does it take you to do a load of laundry? More than a full day? I don’t think so. And once you’ve put the spare set on the bed, you have to store the first set. It’s just silly.

• Anything over 400 thread count. Seriously, don’t do it.

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