Healthy Mind

Sleep Experts Weigh In On the Most Important Winter Bedding Swaps for Chilly-but-Cozy Nights

Erica Sloan

Courtesy of Parachute
While waking up in a puddle of sweat is an all-too-common plight of summer, shivering under the covers in the winter can have a similarly sleep-disrupting effect. That's because, according to sleep specialists, there’s very much a goldilocks temperature for sleep—somewhere between 60°F and 70°F—and optimizing your environment so it’s not too cold and not too hot is particularly important when the outdoor temps swing in either direction. As winter inches near, outfitting your bedroom with bedding fit for the season can help your body maintain that just-right temperature.

Figuring out what that optimal winter bedding looks like, however, isn’t necessarily as straightforward as buying cooling bedding for the summer. While summer bedding mainly needs to be as breathable, moisture-wicking, and lightweight as possible, ideal winter bedding has two tasks: Hold in just enough heat to keep you in that optimal temperature zone on frigid nights, while also not trapping so much heat that you end up, once again, coated in sweat beneath it.

"As you progress through the sleep stages, you gradually lose the ability to regulate your internal temperature during REM sleep." —Angela Holliday-Bell, MD

This is an important line to toe because of how body temperature fluctuates throughout sleep. “As you’re falling asleep, your temperature drops 1 to 2 degrees,” says sleep specialist Angela Holliday-Bell, MD. (Hence the desire to bundle up—particularly in a room that’s extra-crisp in the winter—when you’re trying to drift off.) “Then, as you progress through the sleep stages, you gradually lose the ability to regulate your internal temperature during REM sleep,” she says. And that’s precisely when you run the risk of overheating beneath an overly thick blanket, even if it was just the right amount of cozy when you went to bed.

Essentially, a slight drop in body temperature is part of what helps you get and stay asleep, and ensures good sleep quality, so you’ll want to steer clear of any winter bedding that’s so warming that it gets in the way of that process, says Michael Grandner, PhD, sleep advisor for Casper and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona.

To that end, the best sheets, comforters, and blankets for getting cozy (but not too cozy) are made of 100-percent-cotton flannel or jersey, or bamboo-based fabrics that boast thermal-regulating properties (aka the ability to keep you at a consistent temperature). You can also layer bedding, adding a bed blanket or quilt in the winter, so you can adjust throughout the night if needed, says Dr. Holliday-Bell.

Another reason to consider a swap-out for the season? Hygienic purposes. “Over time, bedding collects dead skin cells, body oils, sweat, and saliva that can quickly accumulate,” says Dr. Holliday-Bell. Of course, washing your bedding regularly is key to mitigating that buildup (experts recommend every other week for sheets), but changing it out seasonally or twice a year can also help to keep each set fresher for longer.

Below, find our top picks for winter bedding, including sheets, comforters, and blankets

The best sheets for winter

Casper Flannel Sheet Set, Queen — $139.00

While flannel can be made with cotton, wool, or a cotton-poly blend, it gets its classic fuzzy-soft feel from a brushed nap—which just means the fibers of the fabric are brushed out after they’re woven. Opt for a 100-percent-cotton option like these, from Casper, to ensure you don’t sacrifice any breathability for all that coziness.

Coyuchi Organic Jersey Sheets, Queen — $178.00

Jersey sheets have the comfy feel of a perfectly broken-in T-shirt. Like flannel, they can be made with cotton or a mix of cotton and synthetic materials, but instead of being woven, the fabric is knitted for a stretchier, weightier texture that’s both low on maintenance and wrinkle-resistant. These, from Coyuchi, are made with 100-percent-organic cotton sourced in keeping with the GOTS certification.

Cariloha Classic Bamboo Bed Sheet Set, Queen — $179.00

Naturally odor- and allergy-resistant, bamboo sheets are a great year-round option for anyone who’s sensitive to indoor allergens. Come winter, you’ll love these, from Cariloha, for their extra-soft twill weave and thermal-regulating properties, which help prevent big temperature swings throughout the night. Their smooth finish easily rivals that of high-thread-count cotton, and they’re every bit as moisture-wicking, too.


The best duvets and comforters for winter

Brooklinen Ultra-Warm Down Comforter — $450.00

Whether you opt for a down or down alternative comforter will depend, in part, on if you lead a vegan lifestyle or suffer from indoor allergies. Generally, however, goose-down options tend to be as plush and warm as winter bedding gets.

Brooklinen recently re-launched its version of a down comforter in three weights, including an ultra-warm one, which boasts a high fill power of 750 (which is basically a measure of the fluffiness and insulating power of the down). It’s made with 80-percent Hutterite goose down and features a baffle-box construction to keep all the pure down clusters evenly distributed throughout.

Morrow Soft Goods Quilted Down Duvet Insert, Full/Queen — $375.00

Love down comforters, but prefer the flexibility of a duvet that you can slip in or out of its cover? Look no further than this down duvet insert from Morrow Soft Goods, which sports a 700 fill power (a mark of high fluffiness) packed with 80-percent down clusters. Its double-stitched edges keep the down in place and maximize durability, while an outer shell composed of 100-percent cotton sateen promotes airflow throughout.

Amazon Basics Ultra-Soft Micromink Sherpa Comforter Bed Set, Full/Queen — $45.00

If a soft-to-the-touch feel is your top priority for a comforter, you need this synthetic (read: cost-effective) option from Amazon, where’s it’s clocked thousands of five-star reviews. Fluffy micromink polyester lines one side, and faux Sherpa fleece lines the other, making it a one-two punch for cozy texture. And because it doesn’t contain natural fabrics, it’s also easy to clean: You can machine-wash and tumble-dry on low.


The best blankets and quilts for winter

Boll & Branch Waffle Bed Blanket, Full/Queen — $218.00

There’s something about a waffle weave that’s just as pleasing to touch as it is to behold. And this waffle-weave bed blanket from Boll & Branch is sized just right to add an extra full layer to your winter-bedding setup, whether it’s placed under or over a quilt or comforter. It’s made with 100-percent-organic cotton for breathability and just gets softer and bouncier in texture with every wash.

Parachute Cloud Cotton Quilt, Full/Queen — $249.00

Layers of long-staple Turkish cotton and insulating poly batting fill give this quilt next-level loft. But don’t let its cloud-like breeziness fool you: Envelope yourself in it, and you’ll quickly find it’s warming enough to ward off any wintertime chill. It’s also pre-washed for maximum softness right out of the box.

Tefici Electric Heated Blanket Throw — $50.00

What would a roundup of winter bedding be without at least one mention of a heated blanket? Ideal for anyone who could use an electrically powered boost of warmth before dozing off (and would rather not crank the heat), or in situations where one bedmate runs colder than another, a heated blanket simplifies the warm-up process. This fast-heating option from Tefici has three heat settings and turns off automatically after four hours to prevent overheating.

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