Thread count is important, but there’s more to consider when buying bed sheets.
It's easy to overlook the importance of the humble bed sheet: just buy a set (or a few), decide whether to tuck or untuck, and you're done, right? In fact, knowing how to buy sheets is key to your nightly comfort, as different types are more breathable or softer than others. Luckily, our guide to how to buy bed sheets will help you navigate issues like thread count, mattress depths, and the many materials available to choose from.
Pima is a general term for a cotton variety with extra-long fibers, while Supima is a trademark for pima cotton grown in the American Southwest by a consortium of growers. Both Pima and Supima cotton sheets are a step up in quality from your basic everyday cotton sheets, but that means they'll also cost more.
Thanks to its extralong fibers, which are wound into thin but durable strands, Egyptian cotton (a large part of which is indeed from Egypt) is the highest-quality and most expensive material available for bed sheets.
These sheets contain at least 50% cotton; the remainder is generally polyester. They tend to be less expensive than 100% cotton sheets, but they may not be quite as breathable.
Thread count is a numerical value used to measure how many strands of thread are woven into a fabric. It's measured by counting the number of threads contained in 1 square inch of fabric, including both the length (warp) and width (weft) of threads.
Generally, the higher the thread count, the softer the sheets, but anywhere from 200 to 800 means they'll be comfortable and long-lasting. Prices tend to climb along with the thread count, but know that many sheets have diminishing returns as numbers get into the high hundreds.
With synthetic materials such as microfiber, you'll sometimes see the measurement of grams per square meter, or GSM. It's a measurement of weight, so the idea is that the heavier the material, the thicker it is. The same caveats apply here, though; just because a sheet set has a higher GSM doesn't automatically mean it has better construction.
Properly set up, the fitted sheet of any sheet set needs to cover the entire mattress, with the corners securely tucked under. To figure out whether a fitted sheet will work with your mattress: