Best Sheets for Your Memory Foam Mattress

Learn what kinds of sheets make the most of memory foam's unique qualities

By Andrea Pisani Babich

You’ve just bought the bed of your dreams and joined the legions of people who enjoy the contouring comfort of a memory foam mattress. Congratulations! Now, you’ll want to outfit your bed with the best sheets for your new mattress.

Can you simply use the sheets you used on your old mattress? Well, maybe, but only if they can accommodate the two unique characteristics of memory foam that set it apart from all other mattresses.

What makes memory foam mattresses different?

First, let’s look at how and why memory foam was created. Memory foam is the product of a NASA-funded project in the early 1960s to create a seat cushion that would better protect test pilots and astronauts from the tremendous G-forces sustained during training, flights, and lift-offs. The result was “temper foam” that could absorb shock by responding to body heat and pressure and then recover its original shape. Mattress manufacturing is just one of the many industries that have adopted memory foam as their go-to cushioning material.

Memory’s foam’s superior cushioning ability is at once its greatest asset as well as its greatest challenge for mattress owners. The selling point for a memory foam mattress is its ability to contour precisely to your body, thereby relieving pressure points on your shoulders and hips, and then recovering its original shape. Those features lead to:

  1. Memory foam’s tendency to retain some of the body heat it is responding to
  2. A lot of compression and expansion as the mattress responds to your pressure points

It’s these two characteristics that should guide your choice of sheets for your memory foam mattress.

How to choose the best sheets for temperature control

Memory foam can offer you that comforting hug at night because it responds to your body’s heat as well as pressure. Some of that heat can get trapped in the mattress which is why some sleepers find they “sleep hot” on memory foam. Don’t give up on your mattress just yet! Your sheets may be the problem.

The three features of sheets that affect their ability to keep you cool are:

  1. Fabric
  2. Thread count
  3. Weave

Natural fibers vs. synthetics

Sure, those polyester or microfiber sheets are wrinkle-free and look nice even if you leave them in the dryer overnight, but they underperform in the temperature control department. For a cooler sleep, choose natural fabrics that are more breathable like:

  • Cotton
  • Silk
  • Linen
  • Hemp

Natural fibers also wick away perspiration better than synthetics, so they will keep you cool and dry at night.

Higher vs. lower thread count sheets

Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric in your sheets. Higher thread count sheets are increasingly more expensive as the thread count goes up, suggesting that more threads means better quality. But what’s good for your old innerspring mattress may not be good for your new memory foam.

It’s true that higher thread count sheets may be more durable and offer a smoother, softer feel than sheets with a lower thread count. But you want sheets for memory foam, so breathability matters more than ever. For a more breathable, and, therefore, cooler sheet set, choose a lower thread count – 200 or 300 is a good rule of thumb for memory foam bed sheets.

Type of weave

The two most popular weave options for sheets are sateen and percale.

  • Sateen sheets have a smooth, slick feel and a sheen on the finish.
  • Percale sheets feel crisp and cool with a matte finish.

Percale sheets are a good choice for a memory foam mattress because they are lighter weight and more breathable than sateen. This makes them better able to dissipate your body heat and keep you cool at night.

With memory foam, it’s all about the hug

Your memory foam mattress can relieve pressure on your hips and shoulders because it conforms to the shape of your body, even as you change positions. All that contouring and hugging means the surface of your memory foam mattress actually moves quite a bit throughout the night.

If your sheets don’t move along with your mattress or they are too tight, you may not be getting the best pressure point relief your mattress has to offer. You could just buy sheets whose pockets are deeper than your mattress, but if they are too big, your sheets will bunch up, be uncomfortable to sleep on and look messy. That rumpled mess makes for a less than inviting bed to climb into night after night, and the bunched-up sheets can further disturb your sleep.

The solution? Jersey knit sheets.  Stretchy jersey sheets will give as your body sinks into your foam mattress conforming to your body along with your mattress. And just like your mattress, they will recover their shape once you leave your bed for a neat, trim look and feel.

Take your sheets for a test drive

Natural fiber 300-thread count sheets can get a little pricey, and you may not be totally happy with your selection. Amanda Mettler, a textile buyer from Gracious Home, recommends trying a new set of sheets by just buying the pillowcases. Sleep on them a few nights, then put them in the wash. Then if you like them, you can buy the complete set with confidence that the return on your investment will be nights of glorious sleep.

Do you have other questions about choosing sheets for memory foam? Leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to get you the information you need to find the best sheet for your memory foam mattress.

Comments (4)

  1. John says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview, your comment will be visible after it has been approved.

    Do you realize that WALMART does not have in their stores ANY SHEETS period that fits 6″ to 8″ mattresses. Are they just simply out of touch with society?? Only sheets for very fat mattresses up to 14″ -16″ . We all know any sheet that fits a 14 or 16″ mattress will only be very sloppy on an 8″ memory foam mattress. Unbelieveable.

  2. I like that you suggested choosing bed sheets that are made out of natural fabrics such as cotton and silk to make sure that you’ll have a cooler sleep. My son easily gets irritated if he feels hot at night because of humidity. It’s important for me to shop for bed sheet sets that can give my family a comfortable sleep, so I will make sure to consider all your tips.

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