What Kind of Bedding Is Best in the Summer for Keeping Cool?

Those sticky summer nights make you want to throw off the sheets or maybe try to catch some _ZZZ_s in a hammock on the porch. But, sans air conditioning, your choice of bedding can help to keep you cool. It's all about the fabric and the layers -- go natural, go light and go to sleep without sweating when you're under covers as light as a summer breeze.

Natural Fibers

Natural vs Synthetic

Linen and cotton wick moisture and breathe freely; perspiration won't cling to you and air will circulate over your skin, helping you stay dry and dreaming. Synthetic fibers -- polyesters -- trap air and moisture; you'll feel like you're sleeping in a plastic bag on a hot night.

Linen's Weave

Spring for natural, but pay attention to the weave. Linen is a loose weave that softens with wear. It's durable as stone but it wrinkles like crazy -- a restless sleeper could create a less-than-smooth sleep surface, and, with linen, you have to love the rumpled look or love ironing.

Cotton's Thread Count

Cotton is the all-around winner, but watch the thread count. The higher the thread count, the denser the weave and the less breathable the sheets. About a 300 or 400 thread count is all you need for warm weather.

Lighter Layers

Summer temperatures vary and nights are cooler at higher elevations or when weather systems roll through your vacation paradise. You'll want some extra coverage on hand and, with the right layers, you can vary bedding to ensure perfect comfort.

  • Use a cotton blanket because it is as summer-friendly in a loose-weave as it is for sheets.
  • Choose organic cotton or silk blankets to provide an extra layer to trap air and take advantage of body warmth without the risk of overheating.
  • Keep heavier layers ready for cool nights. When you want to save on extra bedding and use the decorative comforter as an emergency blanket, remember that a quilt has a filling and will be warmer, while a coverlet or throw is unlined and probably cooler.

Feather and Fluff

Devotees of the duvet can happily snuggle under their downy top covering with lower fill power and a light duvet cover. Duvets, made with pure down or a down-feather mix, come in summer-weight fill power. That means the filling is less dense, providing less insulation and trapping less body heat. More duvet tips:

  • Look for a fill power of less than 550, or the descriptive designation on a particular brand that indicates extra lightweight coverage for night temperatures in the mid-70s and higher.
  • Do get a high thread count in the duvet envelope itself, to prevent the down from leaking out through the weave.
  • And opt for a washable cotton duvet cover -- it adds a little weight but you'll want something you can strip off and toss in the washer like a top sheet.