Yes, Your Bed Absolutely Needs a Top Sheet

It's essential for hygiene and comfort.

I used to think there were two types of people: those who make the bed every morning (ahem, me) and those who don't. Now, I realize there is another divide when it comes to bedding: people who sleep with a top sheet and those who don't. Well, I'm here to tell you that the top sheet (or flat sheet, whichever you'd prefer to call it) is a necessity for a properly made bed and a good night's sleep.

I was blissfully unaware that people are going to bed sans sheet until my co-worker recently told me she doesn't use one. In the winter, she uses a duvet, and in the summer, she just snuggles up with a blanket. I thought she was an anomaly until I read a survey from the bedding company Casper. According to the results, the majority of people don't use a top sheet, and there's a significant generational difference as to who uses one. Surprisingly, just 26% of people ages 18 to 34 make their bed with a top sheet, compared to 30% of those ages 35 to 54 and 43% of people ages 55 and over.

A bedroom with a teal wall and colorful layers of bedding
Jacob Fox

Another bedding company, Parachute, explains that internal data reveals about 40% of Americans don't use a top sheet. Since the brand's launch in 2014, the company has always sold its sheet sets without one. (However, you are able to purchase one separately, starting at $60.). Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO of Parachute, personally forgoes a top sheet. "Making my bed every morning is a ritual of mine, and doing so with just my duvet and pillows keeps the process quick and easy," she writes in an email. "When it comes to comfort, I find that the top sheet often ends up tangled at the foot of my bed and feels like an unnecessary layer."

Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO, Parachute

"When it comes to comfort, I find that the top sheet often ends up tangled at the foot of my bed and feels like an unnecessary layer."

— Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO, Parachute

I'll give those not using a top sheet the benefit of the doubt—not everyone knows why they're necessary. First off, hygiene. A 2006 study from the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology revealed that bedding has a "substantial load of many species of fungi." Although it's easy to toss your sheets and pillowcases in the washer, which you should be doing weekly, it's a far more arduous task to wash your bulky comforter, duvet cover, or quilt. The top sheet acts as a protective barrier against dried sweat and dust mites, which are found more often in the bedroom than anywhere else in your home, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Beyond the cleanliness factor, is comfort. In warmer months, I simply take off my duvet and sleep with just my top sheet. If you sleep without a top sheet, unless it's the perfect temperature, you either swelter because you don't take off the top layer, or you're left cold (and exposed) when you do take it off, as nothing is covering your body.

Except for a few brands, including Parachute and Crane & Canopy, most manufacturers sell sets with the top sheet included, so you're wasting money (and a perfectly good product) by not using it. Plus, in my humble opinion, a bed just looks more put together when there's something between the fitted sheet and top layer.

Sure, you're welcome to snooze in any manner that makes you happy, just know that I'll be resting easy (and clean) with my top sheet.

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