Why linen bedding is good for your health
We spoke to a sleep expert and the co-founder of Bed Threads. to discover what the big deal is about linen sheets – from their breathability, to their eco-friendliness, and even down to their effortlessly chic vibes.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but with the weather warming up, it seems as though linen is appearing everywhere I look. Linen button-downs, linen dresses, and splashed across my Instagram feed, ultra-chic linen bedding.
There’s something about linen bedding that just screams summer. Maybe it’s the relaxed, slightly rumpled texture that reminds me of lazy beach days and ocean-salty hair … but whatever it is, linen sheets seem to have everyone’s attention right now, and I wanted to work out why – so I consulted the pros.
Sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo and Bed Threads. co-founder Geneviève Rosen have shared all their expertise with us to find the decisive answers to all of our linen-related questions, from why everyone’s so crazy for it to whether it’s really worth it.
But firstly, we’ve done the research to find the best places to shop linen bedding – because once you hear about their myriad benefits, you’re going to want to add a set to cart ASAP.
Psst, Bed Threads are now on sale for Black Friday – you can take 15 per cent off with the code DREAMON, so scoop up a set of dreamy, 100 per cent pure French Flax Linen sheets and towels, plus newly released sleepwear and tableware. Click here to find out more!
Where to buy the best linen sheets
Not only do Bed Threads. stock a range of 100 per cent French Flax Linen duvet covers, fitted and flat sheets, throws and pillowcases – they also sell loungewear, towels, homewares and more, so you can revamp your whole house to have that chic linen vibe.
“Our signature sets at Bed Threads. include two pillowcases, a duvet cover and a fitted sheet, delivered to your door for free. Our linen also comes in a range of 18 beautiful colours, dyed with eco-friendly stuff and free from any nasties including formaldehyde,” explains Geneviève.
Amazon stock quite a few different linen bedding options, but based on reviews, we’ve picked out a few highlights. We love the Merryfeel Pure French Linen Quilt Cover Three-Piece Set which is machine washable (and pre-washed for a softened look) and which comes in a reusable linen bag containing the quilt cover and two pillowcases. Our other top pick would be the Lausonhouse Pure French Linen Four-Piece Sheet Set, which includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases. It’s also machine washable and packaged in a cute linen bag!
You can shop linen quilt covers and sheet sets at Bed Bath N’ Table from Morgan & Finch. Their Milano range is made of pure linen, while the Olsen is a cotton-linen blend. Both are available in a range of pretty colours.
Adairs’ range of vintage washed linen sheets, pillowcases, valances, coverlets and quilt covers come in a wide range of dreamy tones. They offer both pure linen and linen-cotton blends, so you can take your pick.
You can shop linen pillowcases, flat sheets, fitted sheets, pillow shams, bed and quilt cover at Sheridan. They’re on the pricier side, but there is a good range of colours on offer, all of which is made from pre-washed 100 per cent Belgian flax linen.
Homewares and furniture retailer Zanui sell linen sheets, pillow cases and quilt covers from a few brands, including Bambury, Linen House, and Natural Home. There’s a range of patterns and textures on offer in case solid colours aren’t your style.
What’s so great about linen sheets?
To start with, linen is a natural material – which is where a lot of its selling points stem from.
“Linen is a superhero fabric. It’s crafted from the flax plant, which means it is completely natural and thus boasts a host of natural benefits that synthetics (and other manchesters) simply do not,” Bed Threads. co-founder Geneviève tells Body+Soul. “Linen is ultra-durable and yet still, only gets softer and more beautiful with time and use. Perhaps what makes it most attractive though are its natural temperature-regulating abilities.”
Sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo broke it down further to explain these abilities, and how they can improve your sleep quality.
“Linen is a thermoregulatory fabric – which essentially means it keeps you cool in summer, while providing warmth in winter. By absorbing excessive heat and moisture, this ensures that you maintain a cool core body temperature,” she tells Body+Soul. “Not only does this mean you don’t wake up in a sweaty mess, it also supports melatonin synthesis – the hormone to make you sleepy. If you overheat, you produce less, contributing to sleeping difficulties and nighttime wakings.”
And technical explanations aside, it also doesn’t hurt that linen just looks effortlessly chic in any room – so you can level up your aesthetic with just one purchase.
What are the benefits of linen sheets?
As Geneviève and Olivia explained, the temperature-regulating properties of linen do more than just stop you feeling sweaty – they can decrease stress and brain fog, increase happiness, and contribute to better skin and overall health too.
“In helping you keep a cool core body temperature and produce melatonin, you’re more likely to sleep deeper, and spend more time in slow wave sleep. This sleep phase helps with mental health: it reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone; and increases dopamine and serotonin, happiness hormones,” Olivia explains.
“Slow wave sleep is also necessary for mental clarity – it’s during this sleep phase that we have a clearance of beta amyloid, a neurotoxin to otherwise lead to memory loss. Finally, attaining sufficient slow wave sleep is also necessary for lean muscle mass maintenance (hello health goals) and collagen synthesis – both are dependent upon growth hormone, and 70 per cent of it is produced during this sleep phase.”
If all of that wasn’t enough, it turns out that linen bedding isn’t just better for you – it’s better for the planet, too.
“Linen bedding is environmentally-friendly (the entire flax plant is used when cultivated for everything from linen bedding to the flaxseeds you enjoy in your morning smoothie!), and as it’s all natural, means it’s biodegradable too,” explains Geneviève.
Are cotton or linen sheets better?
As someone who always thought that the ultimate bedding to aspire to is high-thread count cotton, I was confused when linen jumped onto the scene with its superior claims. So, I posed the question to Olivia: which material wins out?
“It’s a fallacy that high thread count equates to a better night sleep,” Olivia reveals. “In fact, anything above 400 thread count is not recommended – it’s too dense and can trap heat, exacerbate overheating and – as mentioned – lessen sleep quality.”
And that’s not where the revelations end – because it turns out that not all linen is created equal, and certain varieties provide greater benefits than others.
“At Bed Threads., we use pure, 100 per cent French Flax Linen exclusively—so, no blends—and strictly at a weight of 170GSM. This is the perfect weight for bedding—not too heavy for summer, but still weighty enough to keep you warm through the cooler seasons, so you don’t have to swap or upgrade your sheets constantly. We also use this weight for our loungewear range, so you can enjoy the softness and comfort enjoyed in bed when you have to eventually get out!” says Geneviève.
Are linen sheets good for summer or winter?
Linen is pretty much synonymous with summer: when the weather gets warm, we all don our linen dresses and shirts to get through the heat in style. Naturally then, linen bedding is ideal for summer.
“The weave of the flax fibres in linen is open, which ensures that air can flow freely through the fabric. This ensures that there’s always air circulating around your body to keep you cool if you’re prone to overheating. The moisture-wicking ability of linen is what makes it absorbent, able to keep your body cool when sweaty and drying quickly whenever wet. It’s this that makes linen perfect for the summer,” says Geneviève.
That said, it doesn’t mean you’ll only get use out of your linen sheets for one season – because they actually work year-round too.
“All the things that make linen great in warm weather work in cold weather, too,” Geneviève says. “That moisture-wicking quality ensures that even if you layer up the bed with sheets you won’t get sweaty while wrapped up in your duvet and blankets. Linen’s breathable and air-circulating qualities keeps things snug in bed on colder nights, acting as a natural temperature insulator, while never letting you get overheated.”
Are linen sheets worth it?
For Olivia, as a sleep expert, there’s no question about whether she’d recommend linen: “Yes!” she exclaims.
And for Geneviève, whose search for the perfect sheets led her to create Bed Threads. in the first place, the answer is similarly enthusiastic. She would recommend linen bedding to everyone, because “we all sleep, and the right bedding can optimise those all-important eight hours!”
“It’s perfect for sweaty sleepers (or those who share a bed with one!) and, thanks to the aforementioned temperature-regulating abilities, cold sleepers, too. It’s amazing that one duvet cover can offer two sleepers at the same time the perfect temperature to help them sleep well. This is the beauty of linen,” she says.
“Ultimately, everyone should have the option to create a beautiful home, enjoy gorgeous interiors and most importantly… have all the tools they need for a deep, uninterrupted sleep, night after night!”
Want to improve your sleep even further? These are the best oil diffusers for sleep, sex, and stress. Plus, this is the unexpected addition to your bed that will help you sleep like a log. And while you’re here, check out the 10 best motivational self-help books to improve your life.
Olivia Arezzolo is a sleep expert who holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology); Certificate of Sleep Psychology, Diploma of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine); Certificate of Fitness III + IV. You can find her online here.
This article was originally published on October 22, 2020 and was updated on November 26, 2020.
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