“Bed is the best place for reading, thinking, or doing nothing.”–Doris Lessing
Dear readers, I’ve become obsessed with sheets. Colors! Textures! Thread counts! The exotic orgins of their cottons! Egypt! Pakistan! Indonesia! Now, generally speaking, I am not fascinated by the housewifely arts; a mere glimpse of Martha Stewart sends me diving for the remote. But as I’ve mentioned before, I’m lazy and my preferred position is horizontal, so it follows that I spend a lot of time in bed, both alone and with gentleman callers. I also sleep naked, which caused quite a scandal among the nice Baptist and Methodist prudes girls of the Southern college I attended (not that they ever actually saw me naked, but they heard about it from my roommate and believe me, eyebrows were raised). Sleeping in the nude is a matter of comfort—as an active sleeper, I always got uncomfortably tangled up in nightgowns—but it’s also a sensual pleasure, and one I refused to apologize for. It does mean, however, that I can’t stand cheap and scratchy sheets, so I’ve become positively fussy and Victorian in my quest for good bedding.
If you do the math, you’ll realize that high-quality bedding gives you a terrific return on your investment. At an average of seven hours of sleep per night, you’ll be using that bedding 49 hours a week, 2,548 hours a year—and that’s not counting the hours you spend in bed reading, watching TV, surfing the web, making love, etc. So by all means, put some money into making yourself as comfy as possible—a quality set of sheets will last you for many years and will amortize better than anything else you own.
Personally, I own four sets of sheets, ranging from flannel to combed cotton to t-shirt material. The t-shirt sheets are increasingly hard to find, which is a damn shame, because they are like sleeping wrapped in your oldest, softest oversize t-shirt–the one that’s been washed a million times and is so faded and disreputable looking that you refuse to wear it outside and yet you can’t give it up because it feels so nice. Flannel is wonderful if, like me, you sleep in a drafty bedroom and need maximum snuggliness from November through March. Regular cotton is the ultimate cooling, breathable fabric if the same drafty bedroom becomes uncomfortably sticky in the summer months. Avoid polyester blends at all costs (a good life lesson in general). You need at least 400 thread count for maximum softness and durability—anything lower will be scratchy and prone to pilling. The truly high-end, luxury sheets are 800-1200 threadcount. I have a pair of 800 thread count sheets but to be honest, they don’t feel significantly better than the 400 thread count ones, so you might as well save the extra money and buy some nice pillowcases with it. I also recommend you don’t bother with big retailers like Macy’s or Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy your sheets. All my bedding is from either Overstock or Smartbargains, where the selection is excellent and the prices run 50-80% off what you’d pay at a department or big box store (don’t worry, both sites will give you full info about color, size and thread count). To be honest, I’d own even more sheet sets if I could, but space in my linen closet is limited and I decided to spend the rest of my bedding money on a big fluffy duvet with 400 thread count polished cotton cover.
Having my own home, and choosing its furnishings is one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. As a single woman, my house is the one place where I hold absolute sway, and feathering my nest—or cottoning it, as the case may be—is sheer delight.