Learn everything you need to know about the fitted bottom sheet and how this 20th-century invention changed the bedding game.
What Are Fitted Sheets?
Fitted bed sheets are the unsung hero of the bedding world. This protective bottom sheet creates a barrier between mattress toppers or protectors and you, the sleeper.
Seems pretty important, right? It is!
Importance of Fitted Sheets
While the top sheet and duvet cover are other crucial aspects of great bed linen, the fitted sheet is the surface on which you actually rest.
Fitted Sheet Function
So, what exactly is the purpose of a fitted bottom sheet?
These washable, protective, secure linens add comfort to your sleep and longevity to your mattress.
Sheets experience a ton of wear and tear. Think about it: we spend eight hours on them every single night. Sometimes we spill, sweat, or stain them, but we just toss them in the wash when that happens.
If it weren’t for this bed sheet, all of that gunk would wind up on the mattress. And those cost a pretty penny. A well-cared-for mattress should have a lifespan between 10 to 12 years - that wouldn’t be possible without bottom sheets.
And what about those edges? The whole reasoning behind elastic corners on fitted sheets is so your linens stay in place throughout the night.
Tossing and turning don’t solely occur when you’re struggling to fall asleep. In fact, you probably move more in your sleep than you realize. On average, people move around 13 times per hour while sleeping.
The solution? Design fitted sheets with elastic corners.
This remedy keeps the sheets snug, so you can roll around freely while staying comfortable. If you’ve ever woken up tangled in your top sheet, you’ll be thankful that fitted sheets are designed this way.
Plus, fitted sheets’ elastic corners are made in such a way that we can stretch the material taut, creating the most comfortable sleeping surface.
With this simple yet genius solution, your designer bedding sets will feel even more luxurious.
Do I Need Fitted Sheets?
If you have a bed, you need fitted sheets. Not only do they protect your mattress, but they also protect you.
After just one week, your sheets collect 5 million colony-forming units (CFU) of bacteria. That’s almost 25,000 times more bacteria than on your bathroom door handle.
After four weeks, that number more than doubles, leaving your sheets with over five times more bacteria than on your toothbrush holder. Yuck!
If you didn’t have a washable, fitted bottom sheet, you’d be sleeping on this every night. Needless to say, it’s in your best interest to get a bottom sheet — and to wash it regularly.
But hygiene isn’t the only reason you should throw a fitted sheet on your bed.
Your bottom sheet’s material can also affect the quality of your sleep. It’s so much more than a one-size-fits-all experience.
Types of Fitted Sheets
Not all sheets are created equal.
Choosing sheets is a primarily personal experience as it all depends on your sleeping preferences. Different materials offer unique advantages, plus thread count matters too.
Here is a breakdown of the most popular sheet fabrics:
- Cotton. Cotton is hands down the most popular sheet material. It’s soft, breathable, durable, and generally affordable. Cotton sheets come in many varieties, including Egpytian — the most luxurious, Pima, jersey, flannel, and more.
- Linen. If you’re seeking that beachy, bohemian bedding feel, linen is your friend. This flax-based fabric is ultra-light, breathable, and gets stronger over time. Linen is more wrinkle-prone than other materials, but it’s still one of the top bedding materials around.
- Bamboo. Bamboo sheets are the “it” material when it comes to environmentally-friendly bedding. However, bamboo sheets are often mislabeled and actually composed of the less-green fabric rayon. Actual bamboo sheets are lightweight but often stiff.
- Silk. Silk is the ultimate luxury fabric. It’s cool, sensual, delicate, and overall hard to beat. The price tag on these sheets may be higher than others, but nothing else compares if you have your eye on silk.
- Tencel. If you’re looking for true environmentally-friendly sheet sets, Tencel is the best option out there in terms of footprint. It uses less energy, water, and chemicals than cotton. However, you will have to sacrifice a bit of breathability.
- Flannel. If you’re seeking a warm, cozy sleep, flannel, a type of cotton sheet, is for you. However, it’s not suitable for those warm sleepers out there. Flannel holds its heat, making it an excellent option for winter, but you may want to swap them out in summer.
When it comes to cotton, you also have to consider thread count. The higher the thread count is, the softer and more luxurious the sheets will feel.
While fabric and thread count are factors that affect all sheets, pocket depth only affects fitted sheets.
If you have a thick mattress topper, standard bottom sheets may not securely fit your bed. In this case, you may want to opt for a deep pocket fitted sheet, so you have sufficient room to tuck the corners under your mattress.
Deep pocket sheets measure between 13 to 17 inches in depth, while extra deep pocket sheets measure between 18 and 25 inches. To check which size you’ll need, measure the depth of your mattress and add about 2 inches.
Fitted vs. Flat Sheets
Fitted sheets are always used as bottom sheets and feature elastic corners for a secure fit. On the other hand, flat sheets are plain, simple pieces of fabric often used as a top sheet but can also be substituted as a bottom sheet.
Flat sheets are easier to fold than their fitted counterparts, and some enjoy storing only one variety. To use a flat sheet as a bottom sheet, lay it on top of your mattress and fold tight hospital corners underneath. You may need to size up to do this.
History of Fitted Sheets
The history of bed sheets dates back to a 77,000 year old South African “top sheet” made of vegetation. But when were fitted sheets invented? That story takes us into the 20th century!
In the 1950s, sheets were widely available but had definite flaws. They’d come off in the middle of the night (unless they were sewn on as a French Empress had done for her daily).
It wasn’t until 1992 when Gisele Jubinville of Alberta, Canada, realized the solution was to create pocket-like corners to tuck the mattress into. In 1992, Gisele was awarded a patent for her invention and sold her rights to the modern fitted sheet. How much money did she make? Over a million dollars.
You may take fitted sheets with elastic corners for granted, but beds would be a lot more uncomfortable, messy, and downright dirty if they didn’t exist. Luckily, Albertan Gisele Jubinville’s 1992 patent on these game-changing sheets made it, so we don’t have to ever live without them.