There is no mythical, hallowed set of the best bed sheets for sleeping.
Wait! Don’t close this tab! Allow us to explain.
What we mean is that there is no singular set of sheets that are perfect for anyone and everyone. Some people sleep hot, some people sleep cold. Some people love flannel sheets, other, more reasonable people, think they should be tossed into the back of your hamper and forgotten about. Some people care what their bedsheets look like, others clearly don’t. Whoever you are, we here at GQ have got you covered, though if you’re here hoping to find one of those weird quilts made out of T-shirts, we’re afraid we can’t help you.
If you’re in the market for the best bed sheets for a good night’s sleep, your timing couldn’t be better. We’re in somewhat of a sheets revolution. The era of direct-to consumer goods—where the only thing between you and $5 million venture capital dollars is a Futura logo, a pastel subway ad, and some product reverse-engineered from an insecurity—has sufficiently “disrupted” (ugh) the textile industry. The same kind of manufacturers who make some of our favorite mattresses, toothbrushes, and meal kits are now making some excellent sheets.
That said, some of our favorite bedding manufacturers are exactly what you’d expect—seasoned companies that sold sheets to your parents and their parents. But we tend to prefer those that don’t try to trick you with jargon-y specifications like higher thread count, which is easy to inflate with techniques that don’t result in a softer sheet, or wrinkle-resistant fabrics. We looked for sheets made with many different high-quality materials (long-staple cotton, eco-friendly Egyptian cotton, flax plant fibers), so that we could have tons of different options for anyone with a bed of any size. Rest assured, any of these sheets we include in this list, even the ones that aren’t our top favorites, will help you get the rest you need.
The Best Sateen Sheets
Sateen is an extremely common fabric type for sheets. It’s cotton, but with a silky, more luxe, finish. They’re great for someone that tends to sleep cold. Our favorite sateen weave sheet set is the Amora set from Cloudten. The company’s sheets don’t come in tons of colors or with particularly fancy stitching, they are made well, and hold up well to a bunch of washes. Wash after wash, they held up as the softest sheets through many a blind feel test. They’re extremely soft with a light sheen; smooth and silky, but not so much you were sliding around in them or felt like a guy who calls his apartment a “Bachelor Pad.” Plus, the “smoke” color just looks like an instant bedroom upgrade—bold enough to be interesting, but without having to worry if it’ll match any of your other linens. They’re made sustainably, they’re simple, they feel great.
A Solid Sateen Alternative
Do not let the childish name fool you—Cuddletown makes great sheets. They nail the luxurious, almost slick, silky feel that you expect from sateen and come in a ton of different colors. There’s even an option to get a “deep fitted” sheet if you have a particularly thick mattress. They’re a little bit more expensive than both the Cloudten Amora and Brooklinen Luxe Core sets, but the texture you get is significantly more silky. It’s the perfect upgrade for someone that wants something smoooooth like butter.
The Best Percale Sheets
Percale is another common sheet fabric type. It’s also cotton, but without the silky finish. They’re a little bit lighter than sateen, often described as “crisp.” If you sleep cold, but you want something more breathable and with a coarse texture that’ll hug you as you sleep, you should try a percale weave. Out of the percale sheets we’ve tested, Snowe’s luxury sheets struck the best balance of lightness, sturdiness, and softness. These have that classic “luxury hotel” feel, like you’re sleeping in a pile of Ralph Lauren oxfords. After a dozen or so washes, they’ll be your favorite sheets, and they’ll stay that way for years to come. They come in a few lovely tinted colors.
A Solid Sateen Alternative
L.L. Bean’s percale sheet set is a classic of the genre. It’s the sheet set your parents probably invested in right after moving to their first house. They absolutely nail the crisp feel you expect from percale. In fact, these are probably the sheets that all the startups brought in as a comparison point as they were attempting to manufacture their own. In 2021, you can get cotton percale sheets that break in a bit faster and softer than these, like the sheets from Snowe, but if overall softness isn’t as important to you as color options and customer service, these are a really excellent alternative.
The Best Flannel Sheets
L.L. Bean has been in the sheets game for a long time, and most of their sheet sets are excellent. But it’s the company’s flannel sheets that truly shine. Not everyone loves flannel sheets (detractors often point to their lack of breathability), but if you’re in a truly glacial environment (s/o Canada) they can be a godsend. These sheets are cozy, comfy, warm, and sturdy enough to last through many a winter. (No pilling!) Plus, as you’d expect from the Bean, the super soft sheets come in the flannel-iest patterns known to man, which in itself provides a lot of coziness.
A Solid Winter Bedding Alternative
Heather cashmere sheets offer all the things one is looking for when they set out to purchase flannel sheets—something supremely soft and warm, but also breathable enough to allow you to sleep through the night. This set from Brooklinen doesn’t quite have the lambswool texture of your favorite sweater, but it’s as close as you’ll get in a sheet set. The coziness comes at a cost, but if you’re a truly cold sleeper, it’s well worth the upgrade.
The Best Linen Sheets
The old adage of summer clothing—all linen everything—applies equally well to bedding. If you tend to sleep hot and would like to save on your energy bill during the sweaty summer months, you should seriously consider investing in a few sets of linen sheets. Linen is made from a completely different plant than cotton. Linen fibers are a bit sturdier and harder to work with than cotton fibers, which means that a linen sheet will be more loosely woven and feel a bit rougher to the touch than a cotton sheet. This is excellent for breathability, since your body heat can escape more easily through that weave. It is a mixed bag in terms of “handfeel,” however. Before several softening cycles in the wash, some linen sheets might make you feel like you’re being constantly licked by an uncharacteristically affectionate cat. If you have sensitive skin, you might hate them.
We like the Riley sheet set because it felt soft to the touch the moment we took it out of the package. During testing, it quickly became the benchmark for any other linen sheet set. Getting a complete sheet set is pricey—though the company offers the sheets without a top sheet for you monsters who don’t use them—but about on par with other 100% linen sheet sets. Plus, you’ll quickly make that money up by not having to keep your AC on full blast overnight. Best of all, the Riley sheet set comes in a ton of lovely muted colors, which’ll help bring a little bit of energy into your bedroom each time the warmer months roll around.
A Solid Linen Alternative for the Summer
Much like Riley’s linen sheets, Cultiver’s come pre-washed. That means they’re going to be softer to the touch than untreated linen. Compared to the Riley sheet set, Cultiver’s are somehow both a bit smoother too the touch, and we found them to be a bit more breathable during a blistering New York City summer. The Riley linen sheets are plenty breathable, but fire-hot sleepers should consider the high-end Cultiver upgrade.
The Best Patterned Sheet Set
As people lucky enough to have grandparents, we’ve slept on some ugly patterned sheets. We appreciate styling as much as anyone, but have less interest in fringe or doilies. But if you’re looking for a sheet set with patterns a little more interesting than “Smoke” or “Arctic Winter,” there’s a direct-to-consumer company for you: Brooklinen. Their sheets and duvet covers feature a variety of bold but simple patterns that somehow all manage to work with each other. They’re bold, but not overwhelming or kitschy; we like the “Graphite and Steel Oxford Stripe” and “Windowpane” options. They felt a little less smooth than our favorite sateen sheets, but unless you’re doing a blind test, you probably wouldn’t notice. Plus, at $119, they are one of the best deals out there. A stylish man deserves stylish sheets, even if no one ever sees ‘em.
The Best Budget Sheets
All right, alright, we’ll level with you, the rest of the sheets on this list are pretty expensive. Considering that you’ll spend a third of your life cuddled inside of them, we think they’re worth it. Invest in your comfort! But if you’re not at a place to do that right now—or if you need something for your kids who don’t yet appreciate how hard you work—these Oeko-tex cotton sheets from Target are actually really great. They aren’t as soft or breathable as some of the more premium options, but they’ve held up well with years of use and washes. And unlike other microfiber sheets or jersey sheets made from mellanni or rayon, these sheets don’t feel like stretchy single-ply toilet paper. They’re the perfect sheets to buy if you’re just starting off on your own. Once you’ve worn them in, they’ll still be great on that guest bed.
11 More Sheet Sets We Love
A lot of bedding companies promise to make your bed feel like one in a luxury hotel, a bed you’ll immediately want to fling yourself onto after a long day at some indiscriminate conference. The sheet sets from 10 Grove actually look like they came from one of those hotels, with very minimal accent details, like a border on the pillow case or a single colored line in the sheet seam. This isn’t a bad thing, especially since the sheets feel really nice and breathable in either percale or sateen.
Riley also makes a sateen set that’s smooth and high in durability. They come in eight different colors, all of which would passably match with each other. We especially dig their pinstripe designs.
Although a little pricier, we liked that Boll & Branch had a few more “refined” designs—things like accent bands (great) and pleated finishes (fine, but some appreciate a good pleat finish more than others). These are the types of sheets you put on a bed to convince your in-laws that your career is still on track. They claim three presidents (one Clinton; two Bush) have slept in these sheets, and we have no way to confirm this, but it pretty funny. Plus, they’re made sustainably and with organic cotton.
There are two collections worth checking out: the vintage-washed, which is a little heavier and softer, and the stonewashed, which is pretty much weightless. A friend in Los Angeles introduced us to these sheets and advocates for them passionately. We didn’t know it was possible to sleep in LA with a flat sheet and a duvet, but through high-quality linens, all things are possible. The prices are about equal to Cultiver, but if you’re a Restoration Hardware member, you get 25% off.
If you sleep hot, these Casper sheets are a great lightweight option—a cool non-linen sheet is hard to come by, and linen sheets are sacrilegious for some people. The twill weave feels airy, but substantial enough and soft to the touch. They come in dusty mint and pink, which is a fun way to make your bed feel like one of those startup ads you see in the subway. They come in white, gray, and navy too. Among all of the startup sleeping competition, Casper ups the ante with cooling sheets that only cost $95—and with a one year warranty and 100-day trial period, it’s hard not to give ‘em a try before looking to pay more.
The Brooklinen linen (try saying that ten times) sheet set is another decent linen sheet set, with a nice breathable weave and relatively soft texture. But the sheets feel a little bit thin compared to those from Snowe and Riley. One of the draws of linen sheets is that they’ll hold up for years and years, and the Brooklinen linen sheet set feels a little like it’ll quickly tear if it gets caught on something by accident. But, if you want a sheet set with patterned personality, you’ve come to the right place.
The Kassatex linen sheets are actually a linen blend, made with 40% bamboo. We don’t like full bamboo sheets very much, but when blended with linen, it actually works. The bamboo adds a softer handfeel without diminishing the sheets’ breathability too much. If you aren’t a blazing inferno of a sleeper, but still sleep on the warmer side, these sheets offer a good balance of breeziness and coziness. But that balance is only available to you if you sleep in a King size or Queen size bed because the company doesn’t make sets for smaller mattresses.
Given their name, you might not be shocked to learn that these are linen sheets. You might not also be shocked to learn that they are quite rough to the touch. Because of this they are supremely breathable, in the way that, day, a loosely-woven canvas potato sack is supremely breathable (the texture is a far cry from canvas sack, but you get the point). If you can handle the rougher texture (or are willing to put them through several washes before using them), you will find it almost impossible to sweat through these sheets.
Snowe’s linen sheet set is basically as good as the one from Riley. It’s just as breathable—the fabric is fully linen rather than a blend—and pretty soft to the touch. One small gripe: the company makes its fitted sheets with generous sizing to accommodate any mattress depth. The result can be a loose fit that won’t stay tucked in, which can be annoying depending on how hospital-corner obsessed you are. The Riley linen sheet set is a little bit cheaper and does not have this problem.
Helix’s hot sleeper-friendly bed sheets are also not made with linen. Instead, the brand uses something called “tencel” (a fabric made from the wood pulp from eucalyptus trees). This gives the sheet set the soft and smooth feel of sateen while also adding some moisture-wicking capabilities. They’re not quite as breathable as fully linen sheets, but they’re a lot cheaper. If you sleep a little hot but your partner doesn’t, this sheet set is an excellent compromise.
Amazon has a thriving sheet section with plenty of high-reviewed sheets that cost less than a meal for two at Shake Shack. Most of them are made out of suspect materials that will fall apart after a dozen washes. Peru Pima cotton sheets weren’t quite as luxurious as our favorites, but we really dug their temperature-regulating ones at the price (and the cheaper ones certainly hold up to scrutiny, too). Kind of like your favorite supima cotton sheets.