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When we sleep, we should be as comfortable as possible. Fabrics for sleepwear and bedding can play a major role in how well we sleep at night. We want to be cool enough so that our bodies can drop off to sleep, but warm enough that we are still comfortable as well. We’ve probably all been told to wear lightweight, loose, breathable fabrics to bed for the most comfortable sleep. We’ve heard: don’t wear polyester fabrics because it prohibits air circulation; do wear cotton because it’s lightweight and breathable.

While that advice does remain true to a certain extent, we have entered a whole new world of fabric development and design and now we have more choices than ever before. Do you tend to sweat a lot at night? Or do you easily feel chilled? Choose the best fabrics that cater to your body and environment! Here is a list of some old and new nighttime fabric options.

Natural Fibers


Cotton, a natural, soft fiber grown from the cotton plant, has been used in textiles for a long time, and for good reason. It is soft, lightweight, and breathable, which allows air circulation to your skin. It is extremely common, durable, and easy to wash. For all these reasons, a soft cotton fabric still may be a great choice for sleepwear and bedding.

There are seemingly thousands of different kinds of cotton fabric, so finding the best one for bed might take a little groundwork. For bedding, you might see labels like “Egyptian cotton,” “Pima cotton,” or “American Upland.” None other than home guru Martha Stewart explains that the different names refer to cotton fiber length and, correspondingly, quality. Egyptian cotton has the longest fiber length and is considered the softest of all cotton fabrics, Pima cotton has the second longest fiber and is considered the second best quality, and American upland cotton (usually written simply as “100% cotton”) is still soft but the quality can vary greatly.


Wool is the textile made from the natural hair of a sheep, goat, or similar animal. When you see wool, you probably think “warm” and maybe also “itchy.” For many kinds of wool, this is can be true. Wool is an excellent insulator, but the amount of insulation you might want likely depends on your sleeping environment, so choose the weight and weave of your fabric accordingly so you don’t get overheated. Watch out: some wool can be quite itchy, which can irritate the skin at night.


Ahhh, what sounds nicer than a pair of silk pajamas or nestling into clean silk sheets? You’ll feel like royalty. Silk is a natural protein fiber made from the cocoons of silkworms. It is incredibly soft, strong, and is an excellent thermoregulator, keeping you cool when it is warm and warm when it is cool. All that being said, perspiration can easily weaken and stain silk, and therefore any fabric in contact with the skin (like, say, pajamas and sheets) should be cleaned regularly. Silk can absorb a lot of moisture, and that means a lot of sweat if you tend to perspire at night. It is also generally recommended that silks be cleaned with dry cleaning methods. Therefore, while certainly luxurious and comfortable, silk may not be the most practical choice for sleepwear and bedding. But, if you’d like good insulation, a super soft fabric, and don’t mind the dry-cleaning bill, then these might be worth looking into!


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