Bedding Guide: Fitted Sheet Vs Flat Sheet

Despite being two of the most integral pieces in a complete bedding set, choosing between flat sheets and fitted sheets can be a confusing process. Which one you need is entirely dependent on your own sleeping habits, how often you wash your bedding and your individual preferences for style and comfort - so there’s no easy, one-stop answer as to which type of sheet is superior.

At Gingerlily, we understand that selecting the right sheets for your bed is a vital part of ensuring the overall quality of your sleep and, to help you achieve the perfect night’s sleep, we’ve put together this handy guide to fitted and flat sheets. So, if you’re interested in learning what a flat sheet is for, whether or not you need a fitted sheet and which comes out on top in the fitted sheet vs flat sheet debate, allow us to take you through it.

What is a fitted sheet?

A fitted sheet functions as a sturdy bottom layer that protects your mattress and creates a comfortable layer for you to rest on. By definition, a fitted sheet is fitted tightly to the bed with elasticated corners. This helps to keep it securely tucked underneath the mattress with little risk of it popping away during the night, staying firmly in place for even the most restless sleepers.

The primary purpose of a fitted sheet is to provide an additional layer of protection between you and the mattress. Not only is this more comfortable, as mattress fabrics can be rough against the skin and cause itching during the night, but it also minimises the risk of any sweat or dead skin reaching the mattress. Significantly easier to wash than a mattress or mattress topper, a fitted sheet can be washed regularly to remove these contaminants, leaving you with a comfortable, clean bed to sleep in night after night.

What is a flat sheet?

While the primary purpose of a fitted sheet is to protect your mattress, a flat sheet is designed to provide the same additional layer of protection for your duvet. There is some debate as to whether a flat sheet is a necessity for most people, as duvets are already protected by a duvet cover. However, while duvet covers are certainly easier to wash than a mattress, their double layers of fabric mean they take longer to wash and dry than a single flat sheet.

After this initial function, flat sheets are also a great method of easy temperature control as they can be added beneath your duvet or removed according to the season. In winter, flat sheets, or top sheets as they are sometimes called, offer an additional cosy layer to keep you warm while, in the summer months, they can be removed or even used instead of a traditional duvet. In fact, solely using a flat sheet is the standard in hot countries where the nights regularly see high temperatures.

Can I use a flat sheet as a fitted sheet?

Yes, while flat sheets are more often used as top sheets, they can be used in place of a fitted sheet by using the hospital corners folding technique. Also called hotel corners due to the technique being adopted by many luxury hotels to create a comfortable, smooth-feeling bed, this way of folding and tucking a flat sheet into a mattress provides a perfectly tailored fit which won’t come un-tucked during the night.

How to make a bed with hospital corners

If you’re looking to transform your bedroom into a luxury haven for sleep with a hotel-feel, follow the steps below to master the hotel corners bed fold.

  1. Starting at the bottom of the bed, tightly tuck the bottom of the flat sheet under the mattress before doing the same at the head of the mattress.
  2. Next, start at any corner and fold the excess material under the side of the bed, then fold the corner back on itself, once again tucking in the extra fabric.
  3. Repeat this process on all four corners until you have a tightly tucked-in flat sheet.

Should I use a fitted sheet or flat sheet?

Now that you’re familiar with the specific purposes of fitted and flat sheets, the next step is to figure out which of the two bedding options are best for you and how you sleep. Firstly, you’ll want to choose a bottom sheet, though whether you prefer the ease of the fitted sheet or the exact fit of a flat sheet is up to you. After this, you can also decide whether or not you want a top sheet for that extra option of temperature control.

To help you decide which bottom sheet to choose, and whether or not to invest in a top sheet, we've put together a series of ‘fitted sheets vs flat sheets’ debates which covers all the best (and worst) qualities of each sheet.

Fitted sheet vs flat sheet: which is a better bottom sheet?

Due to their elasticated corners, fitted sheets are very unlikely to move during the night but, if the sheet isn’t the perfect match for the dimensions of the mattress, or isn’t big enough to hook around both the mattress and mattress topper, they can pop off from the corners during the night. On the other hand, flat sheets, when used as bottom sheets through the hospital corners technique, will stay in place throughout the night so long as they are tightly secured.

Fitted sheet vs flat sheet: which is easier?

With a few practices of the hospital corners technique, a flat sheet can be used easily as a secure bottom sheet but, in comparison to the incredibly fast and simple elasticated corners of the fitted sheet, it is the more difficult option of the two. However, fitting the bottom sheet to the bed is only one consideration. If you’re looking to simplify your bed linen washing routine, the best option is to use both a fitted and flat sheet. This way, you have both sheets performing the combined function of keeping the bottom layers (the mattress and mattress topper) and the top layers (the duvet or comforter) as clean and hygienic as possible.

Fitted sheet vs flat sheet: which is more comfortable?

What you consider to be most comfortable is entirely dependent on your sleeping habits and preferences, particularly when it comes to the factor of temperature. If you’re sensitive to temperature changes during the night, struggle to sleep when you’re overheated, or are kept up at night from shivering, using a flat sheet as a top sheet is your best option. This will allow you the option to remove the duvet in hotter months, using only the flat sheet as a cover, or sleep underneath both the top sheet and duvet, keeping you warm through the winter.

At Gingerlily, all of our flat sheets are made of 100% mulberry silk, a material which has been praised for its miraculous temperature regulating properties. This means that, with a silk flat sheet in your bedding set, achieving that perfect temperature for sleep is easy all year round.

Find silk flat and fitted sheets at Gingerlily

Whether you’re thinking of using only a bottom sheet, or would like to add a top sheet to your bedding set to test out the temperature benefits for yourself, find everything you need at Gingerlily.

Every one of the beautiful silk bedding collections we create, whether it be a stand-alone seasonal design or one of our timeless Signature collection colours, comes with a matching silk fitted and flat sheet. Bring style and comfort into your bedroom by browsing the full range of silk flat sheets and fitted sheets online at Gingerlily.