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Top Sheets: A Pointless Tradition or a Must-Have?


When it comes to bedding, the top sheet often stirs up debates. Is it an essential component or a pointless layer? A top sheet is a flat sheet that lies between you and your comforter or duvet, providing an extra layer of comfort and protection.

Quick Answer:
Pro: Adds comfort and keeps your comforter clean longer.
Con: Can get tangled and might feel unnecessary if you use a duvet.

The top sheet’s role in bedding has evolved over time. Once a staple in every bed set, it now faces a decline in popularity, primarily due to the rise of duvets. Many people argue that a top sheet helps maintain hygiene by serving as a barrier, which means less frequent washing for your comforter. However, others find it cumbersome and prefer the simplicity of just a duvet cover.

I’m Ben Trapskin, the creator of Yawnder, your go-to resource for sleep insights. Having spent years researching sleep products and navigating the bedding market, I can help you determine whether a top sheet is right for you.

Let’s dive deeper into the pros and cons of using a top sheet to help you make an informed decision.

Top Sheet Decision Infographic - top sheet infographic pillar-4-steps

What is a Top Sheet?

A top sheet, also known as a flat sheet, is a rectangular piece of fabric that lies between you and your comforter or duvet. It’s a key component in many bedding sets, which typically include a fitted sheet, pillowcases, and sometimes a decorative layer or blanket.

Bedding Set Basics

When you buy a bedding set, you usually get:

  • Fitted Sheet: This sheet has elasticated edges to fit snugly around your mattress, protecting it and providing a soft surface to sleep on.
  • Top Sheet: This flat sheet goes on top of the fitted sheet and under your comforter or duvet.
  • Pillowcases: These cover your pillows, adding both comfort and style to your bed.

Decorative and Practical Uses

A top sheet can add a pop of color or pattern to your bedding, enhancing your room’s decor. But its role isn’t just decorative. It also serves as a protective layer for your comforter or duvet. This means less frequent washing for the bulkier bedding items, saving you time and effort.

Comforter Protection

One of the main reasons people use a top sheet is to keep their comforter clean. Since comforters can be bulky and often require professional cleaning, a top sheet can save you from frequent, costly trips to the dry cleaner. Even if your comforter is machine-washable, its size makes it a hassle to clean regularly. A top sheet minimizes this need by acting as a barrier between you and the comforter.

So, while some may see the top sheet as an extra, unnecessary layer, it has practical benefits that can make it a valuable part of your bedding setup.

Next, let’s explore the pros and cons of using a top sheet.

Pros of Using a Top Sheet

Protects the Comforter

One of the biggest benefits of a top sheet is that it protects your comforter. The human body sheds millions of dead skin cells every night. These end up in your bedding. By having a top sheet in place, you create a barrier that keeps these contaminants off your comforter.

This means your comforter stays cleaner for longer. Given the bulky nature of comforters, they can be a hassle to clean. Some even require professional cleaning, which is costly. With a top sheet, you can simply toss it in the washing machine, saving both time and money.

Year-Round Benefits

A top sheet isn’t just for winter. It offers comfort in all seasons.

In the winter, adding a comforter atop the top sheet creates an air-trapping effect. This extra layer keeps you warm and cozy. You can even opt for flannel top sheets for added warmth.

In the summer, a top sheet can be all you need. It provides a light, breathable cover that keeps you cool. Unlike a heavy comforter, a thin top sheet won’t trap heat or moisture. This makes it perfect for hot nights.


Using a top sheet also boosts hygiene. It prevents bacteria and fungi from building up on your comforter. This is crucial because washing a comforter is not easy. With a top sheet, you only need to wash it every four to seven days. This keeps your bedding clean and fresh.

Cozy Layer

If your duvet cover feels rough against your skin, a top sheet can help. A soft top sheet adds an extra cozy layer, making your bed more comfortable. This is especially useful if you have sensitive skin.

Reduced Washing Frequency

Lastly, a top sheet reduces the frequency of washing your comforter. This not only saves you time but also prolongs the life of your comforter. Less washing means less wear and tear, making your bedding investment last longer.

So, while some may see the top sheet as an extra, unnecessary layer, it has practical benefits that can make it a valuable part of your bedding setup.

Next, let’s explore the cons of using a top sheet.

Cons of Using a Top Sheet

Prone to Getting Tangled

One of the biggest complaints about top sheets is that they tend to get tangled. Active sleepers, who move around a lot during the night, often wake up with the sheet bunched up at the foot of the bed. This can be annoying and disrupt your sleep.

When a top sheet gets untucked, it can limit your mobility and make it harder to get comfortable. Many people find themselves fighting with the sheet instead of getting a good night’s rest.

Complicates Bed-Making

Another downside is that a top sheet can complicate the bed-making process. With an extra layer to deal with, it adds an additional step to your morning routine. For many, this feels redundant and unnecessary.

Unraveling the tangled fabric from the foot of the bed seems so unnecessary when you could just pull forward the duvet and be out the door. This extra step can slow you down, especially if you have a busy schedule.

Some people feel that the top sheet is an outdated tradition that no longer serves a meaningful purpose. Instead of simplifying your life, it can make the process of making your bed more cumbersome and time-consuming.

Next, let’s dive into the differences between top sheets and fitted sheets.

Top Sheets vs. Fitted Sheets

When it comes to making your bed, you might wonder if top sheets are truly necessary or just an optional layer. Let’s break down the differences and benefits of top sheets versus fitted sheets.

Necessary vs. Optional

Fitted sheets are a must for any bed. They cover the mattress and provide a soft surface to sleep on. Their elasticated edges help keep them in place, making sure they don’t slip off during the night. This ensures your mattress stays clean and protected.

Top sheets, on the other hand, are optional. They lie between you and your comforter or duvet. While some people swear by them for the added comfort and protection they offer, others find them unnecessary and prefer to sleep directly under their duvet.

Mattress Protection

Fitted sheets protect your mattress from sweat, spills, and dirt. Because they are designed to fit snugly around the mattress, they stay in place and provide a consistent barrier.

Top sheets add an extra layer of protection for your comforter or duvet. This can be especially useful if your comforter is not machine-washable or is bulky and difficult to clean. By using a top sheet, you can reduce the frequency of washing your comforter, extending its lifespan.

Elasticated Edges

Fitted sheets have elasticated edges that grip the mattress, ensuring a tight fit. This feature prevents the sheet from bunching up or coming off during the night, providing a smooth and comfortable sleeping surface.

Top sheets do not have elastic edges. However, some modern versions come with elastic bands on one end. This semi-fitted design helps keep the sheet in place, preventing it from slipping or moving during the night.

Soft Surface

Both fitted sheets and top sheets contribute to the overall comfort of your bed. A soft, well-fitted sheet can make a significant difference in how cozy your bed feels.

Top sheets can add an extra layer of softness and warmth, especially during colder months. They can also provide a cool, lightweight layer during warmer seasons, making them versatile for year-round use.

Bed-Making Process

Using a fitted sheet simplifies the bed-making process. You just need to tuck the elastic edges around the mattress, and you’re done.

Adding a top sheet can complicate things a bit. You need to make sure it’s evenly spread and tucked in at the foot of the bed. For some, this extra step is worth the added comfort and protection. For others, it’s an unnecessary hassle.

In the end, whether you choose to use a top sheet or not depends on your personal preference and lifestyle. Some people enjoy the extra layer and protection, while others prefer the simplicity of just a fitted sheet and duvet.

Next, let’s explore the different materials you can choose for your top sheets.

Top Sheet Materials

Choosing the right material for your top sheet can make a big difference in your comfort and sleep quality. Here are some of the most popular options:

Cotton Sheets

Cotton sheets are a top choice for many. They are breathable, long-lasting, and hypoallergenic, making them comfortable for all-night use. The thread count, which ranges between 200 and 600, affects their softness and durability. A sweet spot for most people is around 400–500 thread count, providing a good balance of softness and durability.

Linen Sheets

Linen sheets are heavier than cotton but still very breathable. They have a chic, effortless look and offer a bit of luxury. Linen is great for those who want a durable and stylish option. Plus, it tends to get softer with each wash.

Silk Sheets

Silk sheets scream luxury. They are incredibly soft and have a smooth texture that feels great against the skin. Silk also has natural temperature-regulating properties, making it a good option for both hot and cold sleepers. However, they do require more care and can be quite expensive.

Flannel Sheets

Flannel sheets are perfect for winter. The heavyweight material is warm and cozy, making them ideal for colder months. Flannel is usually brushed to give it a soft, fuzzy texture that adds to its warmth.

Percale Sheets

Percale sheets are lightweight and moisture-wicking, making them great for warm sleepers. Their tight weave makes them durable, and they typically have a lower thread count than cotton sheets. If you like a crisp, cool feel, percale is a good choice.

Polyester Sheets

Polyester sheets are less popular because they don’t regulate temperature well and aren’t as breathable as other materials. However, they are often more affordable and can be a good budget option.

Sateen Sheets

Sateen sheets are silky soft with a shiny sheen. They are heavier than cotton or percale sheets, making them a good choice for the winter months. If you love a luxurious look and feel, sateen might be for you.

Bamboo Sheets

Bamboo sheets are eco-friendly and incredibly breathable. They are perfect for hot sleepers, as they help keep you cool throughout the night. Bamboo sheets are also moisture-wicking and soft, making them a comfortable and sustainable option.

Chenille Sheets

Chenille sheets are designed for colder seasons. They are very warm and have a soft texture that adds a layer of comfort. If you want something cozy for the winter, chenille is a great option.

Choosing the right material for your top sheet depends on your personal preferences and needs. Whether you prioritize breathability, warmth, or luxury, there’s a top sheet material that can meet your requirements.

Do You Need a Top Sheet?

Deciding whether you need a top sheet boils down to personal preference. Some people swear by them, while others see them as unnecessary. Here’s what to consider:

Personal Preference

Your sleeping habits play a big role. If you like a cozy, layered feel, a top sheet can add that extra layer of comfort. On the other hand, if you’re a restless sleeper, you might find a top sheet gets tangled and becomes more of a hassle.

Bedding Companies

Many bedding companies offer sets that include a top sheet. However, some modern brands give you the option to skip it. For example, if you prefer a minimalist approach, you can buy just a fitted sheet and pillowcases.


A top sheet is not a must-have. It’s optional, based on what makes you comfortable. Some people love the smooth, soft layer it adds between them and their comforter. Others find it redundant, especially if they already use a duvet cover.

Restless Sleepers

If you move around a lot in your sleep, a top sheet can get bunched up and tangled. This might make your bed less comfortable and harder to make in the morning. For restless sleepers, skipping the top sheet can simplify things.

Cozy Layer

A top sheet can add a cozy layer to your bedding. In the winter, it can trap heat, making your bed warmer. In the summer, it can be a lightweight cover when a comforter is too hot.

Comforter Protection

One of the main benefits of a top sheet is protecting your comforter. It acts as a barrier, keeping your comforter cleaner for longer. This means you don’t have to wash your bulky comforter as often, saving time and effort.

In the end, whether you need a top sheet is up to you. Consider your habits, comfort needs, and how much effort you want to put into making your bed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Top Sheets

What is the difference between a top sheet and a regular sheet?

A top sheet is a flat sheet that you lay between you and your comforter or duvet. Its main purpose is to protect your comforter from getting dirty and to provide an extra layer of warmth.

A regular sheet, often called a fitted sheet, is designed to cover your mattress. It has elasticated edges that keep it in place, providing a soft surface for you to sleep on and protecting your mattress from dirt and wear.

Why are top sheets becoming obsolete?

Top sheets are becoming less popular mainly because of the growing use of duvets. Duvets come with covers that are easy to remove and wash, making the top sheet less necessary.

Many people find top sheets cumbersome because they often get tangled during sleep. This can complicate the bed-making process and make it less practical for some.

Are you supposed to sleep on the top sheet?

No, you sleep under the top sheet. It acts as a barrier between you and your comforter, keeping the comforter cleaner for longer. This means you don’t have to wash your bulky comforter as often.

Sleeping under a top sheet can add an extra layer of warmth and coziness, making your bed feel more comfortable.


When it comes to bedding, personal choice plays a big role. Some of us love the extra layer of a top sheet for its comfort and practicality, while others find it unnecessary.

At Yawnder, we understand that everyone’s sleep preferences are unique. Some people enjoy the added protection a top sheet offers for their comforter, extending its life by reducing the need for frequent washing. Others appreciate the comfort and coziness it brings, especially in colder months.

Whether you choose to use a top sheet or not, it’s all about what makes you feel most comfortable and helps you get the best night’s sleep. If you decide a top sheet is right for you, we offer a variety of high-quality options to suit your needs.

The decision boils down to your personal preferences and practical needs. Keep experimenting until you find the perfect bedding combination that ensures a restful and rejuvenating sleep.

Have Questions?

Text us at 858-232-5760 for assistance. We’re happy to help!

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