What's the difference between fitted and flat sheets?

Making a decision on what type of bedding you should purchase for your home can be a difficult decision. Getting quality sleep is extremely important and the type of bedding you purchase can directly affect your quality of sleep.

Also important is what style you would like your bedroom to have. More important is the level of comfort you will have when sleeping. Many factors can go into this decision including whether you get hot or cold while sleeping and whether you like to be tucked in to bed or prefer linens that loosely cover you.

This leads you to the question: should you buy flat sheets, fitted sheets, or both?

What is a Fitted Sheet?

Fitted sheets are used to cover and protect the mattress. Fitted sheets are typically made with an elastic band that holds them in place over the mattress. As stated before, fitted sheets protect the mattress, while also providing a soft and smooth surface for you to lie on while sleeping.

Buying Fitted Sheets

When purchasing fitted sheets you should know the size (e.g., length, width, and thickness) of your mattress. Knowing the size of your mattress is important as the fitted sheet must be able to pull over the mattress snugly so they are not easily pulled off. If you purchase the wrong size fitted sheet it will most likely move out of place while you are sleeping, leaving the mattress unprotected. 

Making Sure Fitted Sheets Fit

When fitted sheets are fitted appropriately for your mattress, the sheet should not be able to move from the corners of your bed and should fit snugly without leaving wrinkles. Having the correct mattress measurements for your fitted sheet should allow for the sheet to be pulled snugly around each corner of the mattress that produces a flat and smooth surface to sleep on.

What is a Flat Sheet? 

A flat sheet, or the top sheet, is a rectangular sheet of cloth that drapes over the bed.

Why Use a Flat Sheet?

The main function of a flat sheet is to provide protection from the blanket or the comforter you are using from becoming dirty. Flat sheets also provide a barrier from irritants like bacteria, dust, parasites, or mites that may be present within your mattress. These irritants may cause issues with your skin including itchiness, rashes, or possible breathing problems. Flat sheets are a good choice for individuals with skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

Why Use a Flat Sheet?

Flat sheets that are made out of soothing materials like cotton or silk will allow for cooler skin through their moisture repelling properties. The flat sheet can also be used as a blanket alone on nights during the summer when the weather is warmer. Flat sheets allow for you to control your body temperature. Depending on the region you live in, a flat sheet may be the only barrier that protects you from irritants on warm and humid nights. 

Some flat sheets provide materials that wick away moisture and allow for you to not wake up drenched in sweat. During the winter, flat sheets provide increased warmth and protection from cold dry air. The size of a flat sheet is less important than the size of a fitted sheet. A queen size flat sheet can typically be used on a full sized bed.

What's in a Bedsheet Set?

If you decide you would like both a flat and fitted sheet most retailers provide bedsheet sets that contain both. These bedsheet sets typically contain a flat sheet, a fitted sheet, and one or two pillowcases. Whatever you prefer, make sure you purchase the sheets in a material that is comfortable for you to sleep on. Also keep in mind any allergies or skin conditions you may have when purchasing sheets.

Do you really need both flat sheets and fitted sheets?

You may decide that you would like to purchase just a flat sheet and tuck it in underneath the mattress instead of buying a fitted sheet. Here are some points to consider:


Sleeping with a flat sheet does add an extra step in making your bed and is one extra thing to wash. But, if you don't use a flat sheet you may end up having to wash your comforter or blanket more frequently as there is no barrier between you and the blanket or comforter.


Many people insist that they have to have a flat sheet to sleep well due to its ability to keep their bodies cool and maintain the cleanliness of their comforter. Others argue that the flat sheet is unnecessary as it is sometimes annoying and often ends up at the bottom of the bed after a night of sleep. 

Do you really need both a flat and fitted sheet? It really depends on your sleep preferences.

Knowing the differences and benefits of flat and fitted sheets should aid you in your decision of whether or not to use both. As mentioned previously, your personal preferences should guide you in whether or not you would like to sleep with both a flat and fitted sheet.


The great debate: should you buy flat sheets, fitted sheets, or both?