Are Bamboo Sheets Cooling?

A good night's sleep is important for your overall health, but the quality of your sleep depends more on your sheet set than you may think. Over 41% of North Americans report experiencing uncomfortable night sweats that affect their sleep quality; hot sleepers run the risk of waking up throughout the night, experiencing fitful sleep, and waking up feeling unrested and dehydrated.

Since medical treatments for night sweats run the risk of side effects, we recommend cooling sheets as a solution for high temperature sleepers. The best cooling sheets help prevent sweat buildup, or absorb perspiration from your body to keep your temperature regulated. In this article, we go over why bamboo sheets are a great option for night-time cooling - and how they stack up to the competition.

How Do Cooling Sheets Work?

There are three main types of cooling sheets:

  • Breathable sheets work to reduce sweat buildup via ventilation. Improved airflow prevents body heat from getting trapped by the fabric, keeping your body nice and cool overnight.
  • Absorbent sheets do exactly as the name implies, absorbing sweat before it can build up and create discomfort.
  • Moisture-wicking sheets are like absorbent sheets but go one step further by drawing sweat into the sheet and transferring it to the outside, where it evaporates.
Woman shaking out cotton cooling sheets in airy Timmins bedroom

Each variety of cooling sheets has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. While absorbent sheets are effective, they don't stop you from sweating and need to be washed more frequently. Meanwhile, breathable sheets reduce the risk of heat buildup but aren't any help if you end up sweating during the night. Overall, the best cooling sheets are the ones that work for you.

Natural Cooling: Cotton Sheets

Whether a bed sheet is breathable or absorbent is determined by two main factors: the material used to make the sheet, and the construction of the sheet set (threading, weave, etc.).

Cotton sheets are a popular choice for a reason. You've probably used cotton balls to soak up water or nail polish, so it's no surprise that cotton is very absorbent. However, cotton is also naturally breathable and draws moisture to its surface effectively. This combination of breathable, moisture-wicking, and soft makes them naturally good at keeping you cool and dry.

There are several types of cotton used in bedsheets:

  • Regular cotton is a classic combination of comfortable, affordable, and effective.
  • Egyptian cotton is a premium variety of cotton with longer threads, making it softer and more durable. As a result, it's less affordable - and often not 100% genuine.
  • Supima cotton, like the Egyptian variety, is also softer and more durable, but production is fully regulated, making it risk-free to buy. However, it is often expensive and difficult to find.
Dried egyptian cotton plant resting on a bed of cotton fibers

Bamboo Sheets: Effective, Eco-Friendly Cooling

Like cotton, bamboo is both absorbent and breathable. Bamboo sheets, however, are up to 40% more absorbent than cotton, making them more effective at absorbing perspiration. Durable, wrinkle-resistant, and cool to the touch, they're an effective choice for troubled sleepers that struggle with hot temperatures.

Beyond cooling, sheets made from a bamboo blend are lighter and more pliable than other bedsheets. Compared to a cotton blend, they fit more snugly to your body and are gentle on sensitive skin. They are usually made from bamboo rayon - a unique, sustainable fabric with hypoallergenic properties that is incredibly soft when woven into a sheet. Basically, they keep you cool, soft, and comfortable all at the same time!

The main drawbacks of rayon sheets are cost and reliable sourcing. The process used to make rayon viscose from natural materials is costly; some suppliers cut corners, producing sheets with rayon from other plants, or without removing harmful chemicals from the conversion process. It's important to choose a trusted supplier that's committed to producing quality products.

Choosing The Right Sheet Set

When it comes to keeping cool, the way bed sheets are woven is just as important as the materials they're made from. Your standard sheet set includes a top sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases, all woven in a specific pattern. Here are some guidelines for choosing the best one:

Percale is the most breathable pattern since it has a looser weave than most. This allows heat to escape more easily and prevents perspiration.

Sateen sheets are made to be fitted to your body. A fitted sheet traps in a lot more heat, but also sits closer to your body, absorbing more sweat.

Silky purple sateen sheet set

Generally, percale sheets are the coolest, while sateen sheets keep you dry. However, cooling isn't an exact science, and there are other styles out there that may be more effective for you. Don't be afraid to try several - a good night's sleep is worth the effort!

Alternative Cooling Options

While we've covered the basics, there are a lot of cooling options out there. Here are just a few:

Linen sheets are usually durable with a unique, coarse texture. Linen fabric is less breathable, but like bamboo, is incredibly absorbent. Consider linen sheets for a nostalgic, casual style of bedding.

Tencel sheets, made from eucalyptus trees, share many of bamboo's advantages. Absorbent and eco-friendly, the main drawback of Tencel is the cost. A quality Tencel sheet set is hard to find, and you can expect to spend quite a bit.

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