At Primary Goods, we like to consider ourselves bedding experts. We’ve researched hundreds of sleep-related issues, ranging from medical conditions to myths and legends. Despite years of exploring the ins and outs of consciousness, there remains one topic that most people still don’t seem to fully understand: the top sheet debate. In a social and political climate teeming with vise-held opinions, the argument over whether a top sheet is necessary still has the jury completely out. Every article we read seemed to either be skewed one way or another, or simply incomplete, so we dug in and created the definitive, unbiased guide to the pros and cons of using a top sheet.
Pro #1: A top sheet keeps your duvet and comforter clean.
We’d all like to believe that we’re clean, hygienic, perfectly-coiffed beings with class and courtesy. In reality, we’ve all had those Netflix-and-eat-a-family-sized-bag-of-Dorito’s-in-bed days -- some of us may even have multiple of those days every week. Even on your best days, regardless of whether you’re a morning-shower person or a night-shower person, you bring a little bit of the day with you every time you get in bed. Scrub as you might, your bedsheets are prone to the oils and dirt your body naturally creates. Think about it: every skin cell has to detach sometime. You lose an average of 100 strands of hair each day - and that’s just the hair on your head. You encounter billions of germs just by stepping outside, though most of them live on your phone screen. Not to mention all the flotsam and jetsam of bodily fluids that other people secrete, which you come into contact with every time you touch a railing, use the subway, or open a door. Any door.
Pro #2: You don’t have to dread laundry day.
By providing a layer between your body and your comforter, the top sheet keeps the important stuff cleaner for longer. Duvets aren’t meant to be washed weekly, while top sheets are. So when you sleep without a top sheet and continuously have to wash the duvet, you’re wearing down those fabrics and will have to replace them sooner than intended. After only a year, you’ll have to shell out another chunk of change for a replacement. You’re potentially saving hundreds - if not thousands - of dollars by regularly washing your top sheet instead. Besides, who likes to wrestle the comforter back into their duvet cover? No one, that’s who.
Pro #3: It provides temperature control during the warm months.
Remember what we said about bodily fluids getting all over your duvet? That only gets worse in the warmer months, when you’re sweating literally gallons of moisture as you toss and turn trying to get comfortable. This summer, scientists recorded a record heat index in Southern California with highs in the 115-range. The world is getting so hot, even Quebec is experiencing heat waves that have killed dozens of people. When even Canada is getting too hot, that’s when you know there’s a real problem. Without a top sheet, your only choices are to sleep with a heavy, suffocating comforter on top of you, or to sleep without any sheets at all. And everyone knows that’s how the monsters get you. But a top sheet can become a happy medium, especially for those who need the sensory stimulation of sleeping with something on their body.
Pro #4: It adds warmth during the cold months.
Picture this: it’s the middle of November, your central heating is out, and there’s no open flames allowed in your apartment building. Even worse - your bed-partner is either out of town, working late, or non-existent. A duvet and comforter will bring some reprieve from the icy torture, but its airy nature makes it too fluffy to provide any kind of real warmth. A top sheet fits nicely around your body and closes the gap that allows air to escape through the sheets. It’s like a big, warm hug that can’t be replicated by just a duvet.
Pro #5: It can help with sensory issues.
For folks who have trouble sleeping or relaxing without some form of fabric touching their bodies, or for those who don’t like feeling different types of fabrics on their body at the same time, a top sheet can be extremely comforting. It’s usually the same material as the fitted sheet, so you can wrap yourself up in one type of soft linen, while enjoying the added heat and weight of the duvet as the top layer. Studies have found that the weight of multiple blankets can encourage the brain to release feel-good chemicals, which lower anxiety and promote restful sleep. This is good news for parents of sensory-sensitive kids who may not even understand yet what’s keeping them up at night. A top sheet may very well do the trick.
Pro #6: It makes you a real adult.
You can try to hold onto your youth in all sorts of ways. Some people get Botox, some people wear Ed Hardy, some people sleep without a top sheet. But when you’re a fully-grown adult who pays taxes and has arguments with their insurance agent, you’ve gotta have a top sheet. Having one implies that you care enough about your room’s appearance and your own personal comfort to put in a few extra minutes each morning remaking your bed. It implies that you can actually afford a weekly trip to the laundry room. A top sheet just screams, “I’m someone who makes my own dentist appointments!” A put-together bed is a put-together person.
Pro #7: It’s the peak of aesthetic and class.
Top sheets and fitted sheets usually come in a set without a matching duvet. This means you have to put in the extra effort to find a complete bedding set that works with the aesthetic of your bedroom. If you live in a studio, you have to find something that works with the aesthetic of your entire apartment. Once you’ve put together those complementary colors and textures, the reward is absolutely worth it. We all wanna be like that one lady in 2B who always seems to have her place decorated with the latest trends before the world even knows it’s a trend. There’s nothing classier than a room whose center focus is completely on-point.
Pro #8: It’s just so damn comfy.
Plain and simple, top sheets just feel nice. You know that feeling when you’ve just gone through a 12-step shaving-exfoliating-moisturizing routine in the shower, and you crawl into bed with your bare legs? Let’s be honest - that feeling just doesn’t exist on the same level when your skin is hitting the heavy, pillowy cushion of duvet fabric. The top sheet, however, provides a luxurious sensation that can only be rivaled by the way the sugar cracks under your spoon on a fresh cup of creme brulee. And no one is going to blame you for staying in when you’re all curled up under your soft sheets after a long day. “Sorry guys, I can’t come out -- my top sheet needs me.”
Pro #9: It’s good for the economy.
We’re not exactly economists, but we’ve watched enough Late Late Show with Stephen Colbert to know that more demand = more supply = more jobs. And isn’t everyone always complaining about there not being enough jobs? When you purchase a top sheet, you’re allowing some dewy-eyed, less-fortunate woman across the world to make some extra cash to feed her children. If the company is local, you’re bringing jobs back to the U.S., which is good for the domestic economy. Last I checked, we’re due for another recession, so we might as well get prepared.
Pro #10: It saves marriages.
A top sheet can keep you and your partner happy if they prefer more warmth during the night. Let them hog the duvet while you rest peacefully under just the top sheet. Or turn yourself into a big ol’ burrito and let that personal space-heater of yours enjoy the liberating feeling of resting under a thin top sheet. Both of you get the temperature control you need! Compromise makes sure couples don’t go to bed angry, which causes happier and longer relationships, which stimulates certain...feelings...in the bedroom. We just saved your marriage and got you laid -- you’re welcome.
Con #1: It doesn’t fit the bed
Top sheets are made to drape over the bed further than your normal fitted sheet, so naturally they stick out between the layers of the fitted sheet and duvet and often turn out looking like eyesores. In order to make them fit, you have to fold them over when you make them, leading to an unnecessary amount of poking and prodding to get them in the correct position. Maybe some people have an extra 10-20 minutes in the morning to fuss with their top sheet, but definitely not me.
Con #2: It bunches up at night.
You don’t have to be a sleep-contortionist to know the feeling of waking up with your sheets all disheveled and bunched at the bottom of your bed. Even if your duvet stays put, the weight of it can create friction with the top sheet, causing the latter to gradually roll up into a heap of useless fabric at your feet. Sometimes it just decides to peace out and ends up on the floor. What’s the point of trying to stay cool, keep warm, or calm yourself with sensory techniques if your sheet won’t stay where you need it? Adding insult to injury, in order to make your bed in the morning, you have to remove your duvet just to get the top sheet back in place. Sorry, but no one has that much patience before 10 AM and a double espresso.
Con #3: It takes forever to make the bed.
If sheet-wrestling were an Olympic sport, everyone would come in last place. If you make your bed everyday, you walk an average of four miles around your bed each year, yet it doesn’t make you buff and it doesn’t count as cardio. So who would want to do it? Not only does it take just about every muscle in your body, it also takes up valuable minutes that could be spent brewing the perfect cup of coffee, standing under the hot water in the shower, or even just sitting on the bed daydreaming about going back to sleep that night. Sure, you could just not make the bed, but what if you bring someone home? What if you’re too exhausted from the day to make the bed when you get back? What if you just kinda like the aesthetic of it? If you’re a grown, neurotypical, able-bodied adult, you don’t really have a good excuse not to make your bed. So you’re stuck dealing with top sheets regardless of how exhausting it may seem.
Con #4: It messes with your aesthetic.
Remember when you picked out your first duvet cover for your freshman college dorm? Maybe you tried to match it to the school mascot, or maybe you searched forever to find that perfect shade of cerulean that reminded you of your childhood bedroom. The duvet is often the centerpiece of your bedroom, and speaks volumes about your personality. It’s pretty rare that duvet sets come with the perfect, matching top sheet, so you’re often left wandering through the home goods store, holding a swatch from the duvet to match the top sheets on display. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your top sheet just doesn’t match at all, and your entire room aesthetic is thrown off. For those of us who view our rooms as an extension of ourselves, it’s pretty embarrassing to represent that self as a disjointed, half-assed amalgamation of colors and textures.
Con #5: There’s already too much stuff on the bed.
My parents have cats. A lot of cats. So many cats, in fact, that every time I go home I have to pop Benadryls like they’re tic-tacs. In order to reach my bed, I have to physically remove up to four cats from my childhood bed, lint-roll the entire thing, smell-test each pillow, and get between the sheets before the cats can jump back on. Some people have similar situations with ferrets, dogs, micropigs. Others have beds crowded with sham pillows or porcelain dolls. Some people’s beds are constantly overcrowded by their nightmare-traumatized children. Regardless of your vice, you may feel that your bed is currently above capacity in some way or another. A top sheet just adds more mayhem, and you just don’t have the patience to handle yet another tenant.
Con #6: Another sheet layer makes the bed too warm.
If you’re unfortunate enough to live with one of those heating/cooling units that alternates between Muspelheim-level heat and Niflheim-level cold, then you’re surely anti-top sheet. While a top sheet offers the ability to adjust your temperature level based on the weather outside and in your apartment, the same cannot be said when the temperature is constantly fluctuating in order to maintain what barely constitutes a liveable 62-75 degrees Fahrenheit. You can’t constantly be pulling your top sheet on and off during the night, so why bother with one at all?
Con #7: It’s old-fashioned.
Top sheets were invented in the 15th century, during at time when people used owl carcasses, human urine, and leeches to cure the common cold. Millennials today don’t use top sheets, and if history has taught us anything, it’s that new trends in health and wellness are usually less harmful than 15th century medical practices. If you are to consider yourself a new adult, living in the modern era, it’s only reasonable that you’d “get with the times” and do what everyone else is doing. That’s not to say that the majority is always right, but if fitting in is important for you, no top sheet is the way to go.
Con #8: It’s not necessarily cleaner to keep your bed made.
Remember what I said about the flotsam and jetsam of body fluids in your bed? When you fold up your sheets in the morning, you’re just folding those fluids back into the fabric over and over again until you wash them. If you’re low on laundry funds - or just really lazy like me - it may be more than a week until their next wash. So while it makes your bed look nicer, making your bed is really just rearranging the same cacophony of bacteria and fungus and mold and hair and...well, you get the point.
Con #9: It leads to sheet-hogging.
I like to think that my relationship is pretty solid. After over 5 years of dating, my significant other and I know each other pretty well. We even like to refer to each other as soulmates. Gag, I know - but here’s the one thing that causes one or both of us to play the “how long can one of us stay silent and passive-aggressive til the other one starts crying and apologizing” game: sheet-hogging. I have Raynaud’s, so I need multiple sheets just to stay mildly comfortable. His body temperature is normal, so he’s fine with just a duvet -- but I have the tendency to turn into Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in terms of sheet-pulling strength when it’s 4am and my toes are cyanotic. The top sheet gets tangled up in the duvet, which then is inevitably pulled onto my side as well. In the morning, there’s an uncomfortable confrontation with big words like compromise and selfishness. That’s no way to start your morning.
Con #10: Which tears apart relationships.
Passive-aggressive blanket-pulling keeps couples up at night and causes unnecessary stress and strain on the relationship. Stress causes fighting. Fighting causes breakups. Breakups cause sadness. Without a top sheet, the duvet doesn’t get caught on anything, and each bedfellow can enjoy their side of the blanket without any unintentional pulling.
We believe in total autonomy and authenticity, so we would be remiss to encourage you to fall on one side of the coin - or the bed, as the case may be - over the other. However, the benefits of living in such an advanced social and technological age include an abundance of solutions for just about any problem that top sheets can create. At Primary Goods, we pride ourselves in having created a simple but effective answer to every conceivable con we listed: our signature snap system, hypoallergenic and bacteria-fighting materials, stunning colors and patterns, and temperature-controlled fabric.
While we can’t make a final decision for you, we personally feel that the benefits of top sheets far outweigh the cons, especially if the cons are easily solved. If you’re ready to change your bedding and your mind, sign up today for your free 100-night trial of our complete bedding sets, and finally lay this debate to rest.