What was once a loss leader, and commonly thrown in as gifts to go with a mattress purchase is holding its own ground today. In the estimated Rs 10,000 crore market, bed sheets and covers are slowly inching their contribution. Though numbers are tough to come by, estimates put it anywhere between Rs 350 – 500 crore in the organized sector, making up 1015 percent of the organized sector market size.

How did the humble sheet make it here

Not long ago, a typical bed was made from straw, animal hides, leaves, feathers, wool, and hair to add a little bit of cushion to the makeshift mattresses. Even pillows were made from some of the same materials. The bedding evolution was brought about by the mighty Egyptians in 3400 BC. They essentially moved their beds off the floor and installing their cosy bed on an elevated platform and wrap them in fine linen.

What began as the prerogative of the Royals and the rich, gave way to a revolution in how people slept. Yet it took the industrial revolution and beyond to get the bedding revolution. And during all of these, the sheets and covers were the ones which got all the attention. That was until the advent of urbanization when the mattress became the center of attraction which would be placed over an iron cot or a wooden bed. Finally, thanks to the retail revolution which began an aggressive marketing push to sell mattresses and made the sheets and coves as loss-leaders, giving them away as incentives.

Today, sheets and covers are making a come back and holding their own ground. Let’s see how to navigate that world.

Navigating the world of sheets and covers

The microfiber fabric is supremely soft, and it is still a bit breathable, so you should be able to sleep on this sheet year-round. Still, you might find it warmer than you’d prefer because of the synthetic material.

The polyester fabric makes this sheet less likely to pick up stains or wrinkles, which adds to the convenience factor of this fitted model. However, this sheet is much thinner than you might expect. So, the colors might not seem right on. Plus, there are some quality control issues. The elastic has snapped early on for some users, and threads have unraveled in the stitches. Many more people have had no issues, though.

Choosing accessories

“Look for the terms ‘long-staple cotton’ or ‘extra-long-staple cotton’ in the description instead,” Crane & Canopy CEO and founder Karin Sun has told Real Simple. “These long fibers are turned into the finer threads that indicate quality.”

You should consider other factors when buying sheets, too, including the finish and any dyes used. If you haven’t found the most comfortable sheets yet, try an alternative bed sheet set that forgoes traditional cotton in favor of other bedding fibers. Who knows, one may be the key to a better night’s sleep for you. Some people are looking for comfort, while others want warmth or cooling abilities; some even shop primarily for appearance and pick sheets based only on what will look best in the bedroom. Knowing what bedding characteristics you want to prioritize can help guide the sheet shopping process, so you aren’t wasting time looking at sheets that won’t work for you—no one with a penchant for linen sheets wants to spend time sifting through page after page of cotton bedding.

If comfort is key to getting a good night’s sleep, though, these sheets have you covered. Best of all, they prove that thread count isn’t everything—and these most comfortable sheets may introduce you to a whole new world of bedding.

What’s on offer

Sheets

Let’s understand what a typical sheet set includes. A sheet set has a bottom fitted sheet, a top sheet to cover your body, and at least one pillow cover. So when you are talking of sheets, you are talking of all these things together. When you sleep, the sheets cover your body and its important that they are comfortable and make you feel good when you are in bed.
Today you get to choose luxurious sheets from several brands. Just walk into your local mattress and linen store or a mall to check on the wide variety of sheet sets available in the market. Believe us, there is an overwhelming variety to choose from.

In order for you to decide on which sheet to buy and how much to spend on a typical sheet set, you need to understand the variety a bit.

For the uninitiated it may come as a surprise to know that sheets are made from a variety of different materials including cotton, polyester, tencel, flannel, linen, silk, bamboo, and rayon. In the Indian market, cotton and cottonblend sheets dominate the market not because they are more affordable. Due to their material characteristics, they’re more airy, more comfortable in terms of texture and feel — soft and smooth. In certain micro markets, flannel and silk sheets are becoming quite popular. For instance, flannel sheets offer better warmth and make you feel cozy if you live in a colder environment or live where the seasons change. Whereas, silk or satin sheets are preferred during summers owing to the fact that they are breathable and provide a cooling impact.

Thread Count

What to look for next is the thread count — a popular metric among fabric manufacturers to ascertain the fabric’s structure. Thread count determine how the sheets’ fabric is built and is not a measure of the fabric’s quality. When buying sheets ask about the thread count of the fabric. Here’s a catch, unless you are an expert, the store hand’s word is what yu can go by. But most often you can trust the store hand. Thread count refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads per square inch of the sheet. The higher the thread count, the higher the weight of the fabric and comfortable. However, lower thread count makes the fabric more airy and breathable but will not have the same weight as a fabric with a higher thread count. The thread count of high-quality sheets can range between 200-800. A thumb rule is, if you need a warm, cozy feeling for cold nights, pick out the higher thread count. A lower thread-count will go well for summers or warmer nights.

Cotton Sheets As discussed earlier, cotton sheets are airy and breathable, hence are preferred more in the Indian climatic conditions. Among cotton sheets, the most luxurious ones are the Egyptian cotton sheets. They’re softer and more durable than regular cotton and not surprisingly they are do not come cheap.

Talking of cotton, those who prefer to go eco-friendly have a choice of organic cotton sheets available in the market today. Organic cotton also ensure they are pesticide and pigment-free, free from chemical additives, and hypoallergenic materials. They are best for babies and children.

Tencel Sheets

If you are looking for an alternative to cotton, consider Tencel. Tencel is a brand name for lyocell fabric. Tencel is is a synthetic fiber made from a blend of the cellulose of eucalyptus trees, hemp, wool, and other natural fabrics. When compared to cotton, tencel is softer, less likely to wrinkle, and less likely to shrink even after multiple washes. Tencel sheets are relatively popular amongst “green” consumers as Tencel is made from only organic fabrics and the manufacturing process is eco-friendly.

If you can avail of this material, you can consider fabric made from bamboo. Bamboo sheets are another eco-friendly bedding option. Bamboo fabric offers all the advantages of linen like being hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, thermo-regulating, and resistant to pests and fungi. Not all stores will have this option. You need to pick and choose.

Flannel Cotton

Sheets If you live in a cold climate, flannel sheets are the way to go. These sheets are made of cotton fluffed to feel softer and warmer. When you sleep in flannel cotton sheets, they should trap your body heat around you, preventing you from waking up cold. Flannel sheets
aren’t available in different thread counts; instead, they’re compared by weight. A high-quality flannel sheet should have a rating of 170 GSM or higher.

Silk Sheets

Silk is not only considered ostentatious, opulent and pricey but also healthy. You won’t find silk sheets in any common bedroom, let alone your overnight stay budget hotel. A connoisseur of sleep can understand the value of silk more than a household where sleep is but a necessity. Being naturally hypoallergenic it is good for the skin and hair. Silk is moisturewicking, so it should keep you cool while you sleep.

Linen Sheets

Linen is considered to be the best fabric to make sheets and is more popular too. Due to the fact that linen is twice as durable as cotton, it is the favourite of every household with a good taste and the darling of hospitality industry. To add, linen is bacteria resistant, ventilating, moisture absorbent, hypoallergenic, dirt-repellent, and good for people with sensitive skin. Linen sheets used to be costlier but mostly owing to better manufacturing process they are becoming more affordable and owing to their durability, lasting years, they are popular.

Comforters, Duvets & Blankets

On a cold night, sheets alone are not enough to comfort you. You’ll need a comforter to keep warm and cozy at night. A comforter is a two-piece fabric sewn together with a filling, typically down feathers or synthetic fiber. You usually pair comforters a sheet set to keep you warm while you sleep. Comforters come in different varieties as well. The type you will pick depends on how of comforter you buy will depend on how warm you want it to be. A down feather filled comforter will give you enough warmth while a lightweight cotton comforter will halep you sleep longer during warm days.

Now, do not confuse Duvets with comforters. The two look the same but a duvet is essentially a bag. A duvet is a soft, flat fabric bag with some filling— whether it be fiberfill, down, polyester, wool, and silk. You can remove the duvet cover to wash it, and you can pair them with a fitted or bottom sheet. Pairing your bedding set with a blanket, or two keeps the cold away. If you’re looking for a blanket to help you sleep better, a weighted blanket is worth researching.

The new accessories market

Thanks to the good home revolution, you can find sheets, covers, comforters, duvets and blankets at many home decor stores. It is estimated that for every mattress sale, an average of 2 sets of sheets, 3 blankets or a combination of comforters and duvets are sold. In colder climates like in upper northern Indian regions, this average will go up to 2 sets of sheets, 5 blankets or a combination of comforters and duvets with every mattress purchase. That’s just a thumb-rule.

The good thing about sheets and covers is that they add to the home decor, feel and ambience that people over time tend to buy and stock at home more of these and change it on various occasions.

Thankfully, retail stores are now realizing how important sheets and covers are on their own and are taking steps to display them better and offer exciting offers — not just use them as incentives with mattress purchase.