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Danny is a Certified Sleep Science Coach with an in-depth knowledge of sleep health. He has tested hundreds of mattresses and sleep products.
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Selecting the right bedding for your sleep area is much more than just an aesthetic choice. Blankets, comforters, and duvets provide warmth and insulation, allowing you to sleep soundly during colder times of the year. You should also base your decision on factors such as fill and cover material, weight, and ease of care.
For the purposes of this page, the term “bedding” exclusively refers to blankets, comforters, and duvets. You can learn more about other mattress and sleep accessories by visiting the following pages:
The terms “blanket,” “comforter,” and “duvet” are all used to describe bed coverings. However, there are differences to consider with these definitions.
“Blanket” is a catch-all term that can refer to any type of covering used for sleep in bed or other areas of your house. Technically, a comforter or duvet could be called a type of blanket. Other categories include coverlets, throws, and quilts.
Some blankets are constructed with special features. For example, a heated (or “electric”) blanket is designed with internal wires that can be warmed up to different temperatures. Heated blankets are usually equipped with cords that can be plugged into electrical outlets.
In recent years, weighted blankets have also become quite popular. These products contain glass pellets, plastic beads, and other small items that give the blanket a specific weight, which typically falls between 5 and 25 pounds. Many sleepers attest to a better night’s rest from using weighted blankets, but they pose a suffocation risk for young children. Additionally, people with sleep apnea and chronic respiratory or circulatory conditions may have trouble using a weighted blanket, and should check with a doctor before doing so.
Comforters generally refer to blankets that are relatively thick and filled with plush, lofty materials such as down and feathers, down alternative fibers, wool, or cotton. The outer material – known as the shell – contains the fill and provides texture for the comforter.
Shells are usually stitched to evenly distribute the fill and prevent shifting or clumping. “Baffle-box” stitching, one of the most common styles, features uniform rows of square-shaped pockets that contain the same amount of fill.
Other important considerations include the shell’s fabric and weave. Common materials include cotton, polyester, silk, and linen. Weave refers to how the threads of fabric are woven together. Percale is a tight weave that produces a crisp, lightweight fabric, while sateen has a looser weave and is softer as a result.
You may be thinking: “I thought comforters and duvets were the same thing.” This is probably because people in North America often use these terms interchangeably. However, there is one key difference. While comforters are standalone coverings consisting of fill enclosed in a non-removable shell, duvets feature two components:
Duvet Insert: Quite similar to comforters, inserts are made of fabric shells that contain a fill material such as down, down alternative, cotton, or wool.
Duvet Cover: The cover slips over the insert to protect it from body oils, spills, and other contaminants. Most duvet covers are equipped with buttons, corner ties, and other components that physically attach to the insert and prevent excessive shifting.
One advantage of duvets is that they are usually easier to care for than comforters. Rather than cleaning both components, you can wash the cover separately and won’t need to launder the insert as often. At the same time, duvets tend to cost more because you’ll need to purchase the insert and cover – but many people choose to use duvet covers with their comforters, as well.
Bedding products can be made using a wide range of shell fabrics and fill materials. The most common options include:
|Cashmere||Cashmere is a specific type of wool harvested from goats. The fibers are exceptionally soft. Cashmere is also noted for its breathability and warmth, making it suitable for year-round use. The biggest drawback to cashmere bedding is that it can be quite expensive, especially compared to other types of wool.|
|Cotton||Cotton may be used as a shell fabric or a fill material. This versatile fiber is known for its durability, breathability, and lightweight feel. Price-points for cotton bedding strongly vary, ranging from inexpensive cotton-blends to costlier items made from premium varieties such as Pima cotton or Egyptian cotton.|
|Down||Down refers to the soft, inner plumage of geese and ducks that provides natural insulation for the animals. Bedding products made with down fill are usually very plush and lightweight. Some manufacturers combine down with feathers, outer plumage that feels coarser and firmer. Animal-conscious shoppers should look for products that have been certified by the Responsible Down Standard, meaning the animals are treated humanely and not harmed when the down is obtained.|
|Down Alternative||Down alternative refers to polyester fibers that mimic the softness and lightness of real down. Bedding with down alternative fill is often constructed with baffle boxes for even distribution. Down alternative bedding is usually cheaper than products made from real down. Additionally, these items won’t trigger down allergies and may be better suited to people who would rather not purchase animal-based products.|
|Eucalyptus||Fibers from the eucalyptus tree have become popular as bedding fill due to their exceptional breathability and softness. The shell may also be composed of Tencel lyocell or another eucalyptus-derived fabric.|
|Fleece||Fleece does not refer to a specific type of fabric, but rather a material characterized by a soft, napped feel. Fleece is commonly made from polyester, but it may also be derived from wool or shearling from animals.|
|Polyester||Polyester is a versatile synthetic fabric with a wide range of industrial uses. Bedding products may include shells made from types of polyester material such as fleece, minky, or microfiber. Most down alternative fills also contain polyester.|
|Silk||Silk is a natural fiber produced by the silkworm and other insects for making cocoons. While pure silk tends to be expensive, the material is highly sought after for its luxuriously soft and smooth feel. Expect to pay a bit more for bedding products with silk shells and/or fill.|
|Wool||Wool is a natural fiber obtained from sheep and other animals during a process known as shearing. Many people enjoy the feel of wool because it insulates from the cold while remaining fairly breathable, making it suitable for year-round use. Wool can also wick away moisture from your body and help you stay comfortable on hot nights.|
In addition to the shell and fill materials, there are other important considerations to make when choosing new bedding products. These include the following:
The “quality” of your bedding materials may refer to different aspects of their composition. High-quality shell materials won’t wear out too quickly or develop rips or tears that cause fill to escape. The fabric, weave, and thread count all play a role in fabric durability.
For the fill, high-quality materials should retain a soft feel over time and resist clumping for at least a few years. The quality of construction is also important, as lower-quality baffles and other types of stitching may make your bedding less durable.
Keep in mind that the price-point of a blanket, comforter, or duvet often reflects the quality of its design and composition. As a result, bedding items that offer better construction tend to cost more than those that don’t.
The size of your bedding will depend on your mattress and whether or not you’re the only person using the covering.
Most comforters and duvets have oversize dimensions, allowing them to drape over the sides of your mattress to keep you warm. For example, a queen size mattress typically measures 60 inches wide by 80 inches long, while a queen size comforter or duvet can measure as much as 100 inches wide by 100 inches long.
Blankets intended for single-person use will of course be smaller. These include throw blankets, heated blankets, and weighted blankets.
The weight of your bedding will mostly depend on the fill material. Down and down alternative tend to be the lightest fills. A queen size down or down alternative comforter or duvet can weigh as little as 25-30 ounces (1.5-1.8 pounds). That said, bedding products with other fill types such as cotton, silk, or eucalyptus fibers also tend to be fairly light.
At the other end of the spectrum, weighted blankets are intended to help you sleep better by applying more pressure to your body, which many people find relaxing. Most weighted blankets made today weigh between 5 and 30 pounds. A good rule of thumb: people tend to feel most comfortable under weighted blankets that weigh approximately 10% of their body weight.
Several factors affect how well your bedding regulates temperature. These include the weight of the comforter or duvet, whether the shell is composed of breathable fibers, and how much heat the fill material absorbs.
Some bedding products are designed to be light and breathable, while others insulate from the cold and feel quite cozy. You’ll likely find a few duvets and comforters sold in different weights intended for different climates or times of the year – or all-season year-round use, in some cases.
The price of a new duvet or comforter depends on the shell and fill, selected size, the brand itself, and other variables. Bedding products made from synthetics such as polyester fabric and down alternative fill can cost as little as $50, while high-end duvets and comforters made from premium materials like pure down, mulberry silk, or cashmere can easily cost $1,000 or more.
Be sure to factor in the price of shipping when calculating the cost of your new bedding item. If the covering isn’t compatible with your household washer, then you may need to pay extra for dry cleaning and should also take this into consideration.
Color & Pattern
The color or pattern you select for your bedding can brighten up your bedroom and add to your decor in charming, eye-catching ways. Given the range of duvet covers sold today, you’ll be able to choose from a wide selection based on your personal tastes.
One thing to keep in mind: while this isn’t always the case, bedding with patterns may cost more than duvets or comforters with solid-color palettes.
Care and Cleaning
Each bedding product should come with a care instructions tag that tells you how to properly clean the item.
Duvet covers made of materials like silk or cashmere may require dry cleaning. Comforters and duvet inserts may also need professional cleaning. This is especially true for bedding with down fill because it should only be laundered in a larger, commercial size washing machine. If you’d rather not pay for dry cleaning – which can cost up to $50 per visit – many laundromats are equipped with commercial size washers.
Bedding products constructed from synthetic materials can usually be washed and dried in any household machine. Be sure to consult the care instructions tag for specifics such as water temperature, dryer setting, and the best detergent type.
When not in use, store your bedding in a cool, dry place where it won’t be exposed to humidity. This will prevent the buildup of mold and mildew.
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