How to Buy Bedding like a Grown-up

In 5 Easy Steps

Choices were simpler in childhood: the red plate or the blue one, the X-Men sheets or My Little Pony. Of course, many of those choices were made by the adults. But then, there were also fewer choices. Thanks to more expansive options in brick and mortar stores, and the onslaught of the internet, we have more choices for ourselves and our families than any generation before us.

Ideally, more means better.  Sometimes, more just means more...or more confusing.

So we’ve combed through the choices, the FAQs and the problems to come up 5 simple steps to putting together a grown-up slumber haven.

Step 1: Pick a Look

Do you want sleek and modern, or cozy and friendly?  Take a look in your closet, and the pieces you have chosen for yourself or most love, even the rabbit holes you fall into on Instagram: what emotional impact to you want your bed to have?

Then either write out the words that describe your ideal look (bliss, peace, soothing, whatever they are), or find a picture of a bed you like (yay, Pinterest rabbit hole!).

Keep it with you when you shop (next to your computer, or in your hand at the store).

Step 2: Choose a Pillow

You will have many pillows on your bed, but only 1 matters--the one on which you rest your head.  We will get to the decorative ones later, but being grown-up sometimes means putting practical things first, so first:

  • If you are a side sleeper - Choose a pillow the right height and shape to support your neck, based on the size of your shoulder.  You want your neck in a straight line with the rest of your spine. Also consider a pillow between your legs, particularly if you are curvy or tend to roll.
  • If you are a back sleeper - Choose a thin pillow, but something that supports your neck, plus a pillow for under your knees.  That’s where specially shaped pillows come in--that dent or curve in the middle let’s the head fall back (not lean forward), while still supporting the neck.  A good down or down-alternative pillow will also let you dent the middle for the head, but support the neck.
  • If you are a stomach sleeper - Don’t be.  It’s not good for your back. Retrain yourself to be a side sleeper by trying a long body pillow between arms and knees.

Step 3: Choose Sheets

If only sheets were just about decoration and maybe thread count.  But thread count doesn’t necessarily mean better--a higher single-ply thread count may mean they last longer, but they can also feel cooler and stiffer.  If you like that, it’s nice, if you prefer warmer, you may prefer a stretch such as a bamboo product, or a flannel sheet material.

So don’t be bullied by thread count numbers. Invest in 2 sheet sets that you love how they feel (a spare so you have one when the other is in the wash).

Step 4: Choose a Duvet + a Cover

Nothing says “grown up” quite like foregoing a comforter in favor of a duvet with a duvet cover.  It’s like a giant pillow case for your comforter!

Here are the primary reasons to make the switch:

  • Ease of washing the outside only
  • Ease of switching the inside blanket for the season
  • Nearly infinite choices--the right cover, plus your choice of filler

Go for wool or synthetic if you have allergies.  Down is luxurious, but not hypoallergenic.

Step 5: Choose Decorative Details

When you’ve put all of these details together, it still won’t look like the dream bed you chose, if you forget a few details: decorative pillows and (depending on your bed frame) possibly a bedskirt.  

Once you’ve put it all together, you’ll have put together a very nice bed and scored a major adulting win.