Choosing Sheets: What Does Thread Count Actually Mean?

January 24, 2014 All posts Reverie Reverie

Shopping for sheets can be overwhelming, given the plethora of available fabrics, the terminology and the wide range of numbers associated with thread counts. We’ve compiled some information you can use to buy sheets that are right for you.

Is Thread Count Important?

Regardless of daily routines, we all spend several hours in bed every night. Over the course of a year, an average of eight hours of sleep each night equates to 120 full days spent on your sheets! The fabric, feel, and thread count of your bed sheets can make a difference on how comfortably you sleep.

It's More Than a Number

When considering thread count, we look at the number. Thread count refers to the number of threads woven together in a square inch. The number of lengthwise threads is added to the number of cross threads—so 200 threads lengthwise woven with 200 width wise is a thread count of 400. In general, the finer thread, the more threads can be woven together in a square inch; this provides a finer, softer fabric.

Seasonal Selections

The right sheets are essential to a great night of sleep, whether you are huddling under the covers from the winter weather, or looking for cool relief from the summer heat. You can be easily persuaded to splurge on a more luxurious set of sheets, but be sure you understand the differences in the fabric. Double-ply fabric will give you a heavy, durable set of sheets, while single-ply fabrics are more delicate and appear thinner.  For a little variety, stock your linen closet with both single and double-ply sheets to give you the sleep experience you’re looking for no matter the season.

What's The Best Fabric?

Once you have chosen the thread count and fabric ply, the final considerations are the fabric and type of weave. Historically, the most common fabric for sheets is Pima cotton. Egyptian cotton has become popular, based on its breath-ability. Organic cotton sheets are a must for anyone who is trying to limit exposure to chemicals—as it is grown without herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers.

The feel is determined by the weave. Crisp, closely woven percale sheets will give you a somewhat silky feel. For a more luxurious sheet, consider sateen weave. Flannel sheets will give you a super soft, cozy feel. If you prefer some stretch in your sheets, consider a knitted jersey sheet.