Egyptian cotton sheets are hailed as the crème de la crème when it comes to bed linen, but could they actually be giving you an uncomfortable night's sleep? A sleep expert explains how your bedding can affect the quality of your sleep.
While bedding made from natural fibres is highly sought-after in Australia, with many people opting for high-thread cotton to keep them cool during summers and cosy in winter, it came as a bit of a shock for us to learn that - despite their reputation - Egyptian cotton sheets might not always be best.
What’s wrong with high-thread-count sheets, like Egyptian cotton?
"Sheets are the layers which your body comes into direct contact with while sleeping, so it’s important to look for a set that is breathable and soft yet durable, for increased comfort," says Dr Lorenzo Turicchia, Ph.D and Sleep Scientist for BEDGEAR. "Sheets with unbreathable fabrics - such as high-thread-count materials like Egyptian cotton - can cause you to become uncomfortable through overheating or by becoming tangled as they stick to you."
When you sleep with high-thread-count sheets, the heat that naturally builds from your body becomes trapped against you, as the thick fabric prevents it from escaping naturally.
This can result in a night of endless tossing and turning, leaving you to feel groggy or fatigued the next day because you didn’t recover properly the night before.
What role does temperature play in getting a solid night's sleep?
Temperature makes all the difference to your sleep—this means keeping your room cool and controlling humidity by keeping moisture away from your body with breathable fabrics.
"When your body overheats, you constantly flip over to try to cool yourself down," says Dr Lorenzo. "Sleeping at the right temperature, with bedding layers that circulate and balance your body heat with your room environment, make it easier for your body to follow its natural circadian rhythm of dropping two degrees at night."
What fabrics should we avoid?
Dr Lorenzo advises avoiding unbreathable fabrics which don't allow for temperature regulation, as restrictive and clingy materials that prohibit airflow can create a warm and uncomfortable sleeping environment.
Fabrics to steer clear of are very thick fabrics like Egyptian cotton as well as tightly-woven synthetic fabrics, which are not only unpleasant to touch but are also likely to increase sweating as the night progresses.
What bedding is best?
Lorenzo says your bedding should be designed to wick away heat and moisture to help you regulate your body temperature and generate a more comfortable sleep.
"After a night of poor rest, your body is not able to function up to its full potential," Dr Lorenzo says. "A lack of sleep or consistently poor sleep can affect your balance and coordination, making you more prone to falls and other accidents."
If you're keen to use only natural fibres, then bamboo is your best bet. It has moisture-wicking and organic antibacterial properties, making bamboo sheets another great option for regulating your body temperature while sleeping.
Just as new technology has revolutionised sports clothing and workout gear - making it highly-breathable, temperature-regulating and antimicrobial - Dr Lorenzo says the same principles can be used in bedding to provide maximum recovery at night.
Lorenzo also recommends BEDGEAR's sheets, which are made from breathable, soft polyester, designed to facilitate airflow and regulate body temperature.
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