When summer rolls around, it’s essential that you switch into shorts and T-shirts to stay cool. But in addition to switching to your summer wardrobe, you may also want to consider swapping your bedding for something more breathable and lightweight – would polyester be a good fabric to use?
Basic polyester sheets don’t keep you cool. Polyester is less breathable than natural fibers such as cotton and will trap more heat from your body. Polyester also doesn’t absorb water, so you may be uncomfortable if you sweat at night. However, some modern polyester blends can help you stay cool.
If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of polyester sheets and how they stack up to other fibers — keep reading. And at the end of this article, you’ll also find some handy tips on how to stay cool when sleeping.
Why Normal Polyester Sheets Won’t Keep You Cool
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all sweat at night, especially in hot weather. Your sweat glands are your built-in A/C unit: as the sweat they release evaporates, the surface of your skin cools down. Natural fibers, such as cotton, linen, and silk, absorb most of that moisture and thus allow the heat from your body to escape.
That, however, is not the case with polyester: one of its defining characteristics is that it does not absorb moisture. This makes it perfect for water- and soil-resistant garments and sportswear. Polyester is also immune to water-based stains.
Low water absorbency, however, is not something you want for your bedsheets. They will trap in all the heat and sweat from your body, and you will probably spend most of the night tossing and turning.
How Modern Polyester Blends Can Help
The good news is that scientists and polyester manufacturers have been looking into developing modern fabrics that are more breathable and better at wicking perspiration away from the skin. These include high-tech polyester, which is typically used in high-performance athletic wear, and cotton-polyester blends, which are more suitable for bedding.
Cotton-polyester blends or poly cotton bring you the best of both worlds. They tend to be more expensive than standard polyester, but are still more affordable than natural fabrics. Poly cotton breathes better than standard polyester sheets and will keep you cooler and fresher. What’s more, it is easier to maintain and lasts longer than natural fibers — not to mention that you can get the luxurious feel of silk at a fraction of the price.
If you decide to invest in poly cotton sheets, make sure to take a good look at the label. Ideally, you want a 50/50 or 60/40 blend. However, keep in mind that you might have to go through some trial-and-error until you find the blend that works best for you.
What Are the Best Sheet Fabrics to Stay Cool With?
All natural fabrics are more expensive and susceptible to wrinkling, shrinkage, tears, and stains compared to polyester. Nevertheless, they have no competition when it comes to breathability and keeping you cool at night. Even modern polyester blends, regardless of their improved properties, do not perform as well as pure natural fibers.
Traditionally, the best natural fabrics for sheets have been cotton, linen, and silk. Bamboo has also been gaining in popularity in recent years. Which one would work best for you depends mainly on your budget, your personal preferences, and how sensitive your skin is.
Cotton is by far the most popular natural fiber for bedding. It breathes extremely well, absorbs the excess moisture from your skin, and is soft and crisp to the touch. It is also much more affordable and durable than silk.
If your budget allows for it, look for sheets made of long-weave Egyptian cotton, which is widely considered to be the highest-quality and most durable cotton in the world.
Silk is the king and queen of all fabrics and makes for highly breathable and truly luxurious sheets. It is the softest and most delicate of natural fibers and feels lovely on the skin. What’s more, silk absorbs less moisture than cotton and linen and glides rather than wrinkles against your body. This makes it a great choice of bedding for people with dry skin and hair and anyone who wants to prevent premature aging.
However, silk is rather high maintenance when it comes to washing, drying, and ironing. It also tears and stains easily — not to mention that it is anything but affordable.
Linen is not as soft as cotton or silk. Still, it far outperforms both when it comes to water absorbency, durability, and strength. It resists wear and tear exceptionally well. What’s more, linen is one of the very few fibers that improve with each wash. Most other fabrics gradually weaken and disintegrate when laundered.
There are two major downsides to linen, though. It wrinkles — a lot. It also might feel a bit rough to the touch if you have sensitive skin.
While bamboo sheets entered the market fairly recently, they quickly became popular with consumers. Bamboo fibers are soft, retain less heat than cotton, and are typically cheaper than both silk and higher-quality cotton. Furthermore, bamboo bedding can be exceptionally durable if you look after it properly.
When it comes to washing and drying, however, bamboo is higher maintenance compared to cotton and linen. Bamboo bedding is also typically more expensive than lower-quality cotton sheets.
Other Ways to Stay Cool When Sleeping
If you want to stay cool on hot summer nights, there are many more factors to consider other than your choice of bedding. Here are some quick and easy tips to cool down without paying a ton of money for a new A/C unit.
- Take a hot shower in the evening. You read that right: warm showers help your body cool down, while cold showers raise your core temperature.
- Drink a warm drink before going to bed. Same logic here.
- Chill your bedding. Put your sheets in a plastic bag and place them in the fridge or freezer.
- Chill your hot water bottle or an ice pack in the freezer and bring it with you to bed.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and strenuous exercise for at least four hours before going to bed.
- Stay hydrated. To break a good sweat and cool down, you need to have plenty of water in your system.
- Wear nightwear that is made from natural fibers — or sleep without clothing.
- Close the windows, draw the curtains, and shut the blinds during the day to keep the heat out. Open the windows at night to air the room.
- If possible, move your mattress closer to the floor.
Without a doubt, polyester has some undeniable advantages over natural and other synthetic fibers. It is cost-effective, highly versatile, durable, and easy to look after. It also holds up exceptionally, and high-quality polyester feels like silk at a fraction of the price.
However, due to its low breathability and water absorbency and its tendency to trap in heat, polyester might not be the best choice when it comes to bedding. Natural materials such as cotton or linen are typically better suited for bed sheets, especially in the summer months when you need something to keep you cool at night.