Anyone who has ever experienced sleep difficulties understands what lengths one will go to just to get a good night’s sleep. One factor considered involves the bedsheets they use. For the curious-minded, here is an in-depth look at the pros and cons of silk sheets.
Silk is a lavish material used for making sheets, as it’s a premium fabric with desirable properties. Since its discovery, it’s been a luxury item most used by people of wealth.
Restful sleep is a vital part of your overall health and wellness; therefore, it’s wise to strive for the sleep you need. Your body needs to refresh and recover from the day, which sleep does for you.
Can switching to sheets made from the purest silk help you sleep better, or is it a marketing ploy? Are silk sheets worth the hype? The following contains information about silk, its production, types of silk, and the pros and cons of using silk to make sheets.
Where does silk come from in the first place?
Silk comes from silkworms, which is a type of caterpillar. While silk starts as fluid, it spins into a single filament. Silkworms feed on plants and spin a protective cocoon before it proceeds through the life stages to become a moth.
Because silk comes from natural sources, it offers some unique traits, ideal for making silk sheets. Some silk products may also contain artificial fibers for various purposes. The natural properties of silk include its sheen, lightweight texture, absorbency, strength, resilience and rich colors.
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What are the different types of silk?
While there are four types of natural silk, around 90 percent of silk production comes from the Bombyx mori mulberry silkworm, making mulberry silk the most popular.
The other three types of silk, also used for commercial purposes, include the Eri silk, Muga silk, and Tasar silk.
Tasar silk, also known as Tussah silk, derives from various silkworms that don’t eat mulberry leaves. They eat oak leaves and other leaves rich in tannin. There are other types of worms that are silk producers. Still, they come from wild sources exploited across Asia and Africa. These non-mulberry silks are called Anaphe silk, Mussel silk, Spider silk, Coan silk, and Fagara silk.
Anaphe silk has better elasticity and strength than mulberry silk and gets used for plush and velvety products.
Widely used in Taranto, Italy, they use Mussel silk as a textile fabric called ‘fish wool’ when spun. Mussels make this silk, and it’s so strong mussels use it to secure themselves on surfaces like rocks underwater. It’s naturally a brownish-gold iridescent color.
We categorize spider silk as a non-insect type of silk that is fine and soft but highly elastic and durable. The Madagascan species is the most commonly used for commercial applications. We don’t use this in textiles because of the high cost of production.
Coan silk comes from the Mediterranean regions such as Greece, southern Italy, Turkey, Romania, etc. They used silk to make clothing dyed crimson red for Roman dignitaries in ancient times. They no longer produce this clothing due to the innovations of higher-quality silk varieties.
Fagara silk comes from the Attacus atlas L, giant silk moth, and other species from China, Sudan, and Indo-Australia. The silk is tan or light brown and is used to make scarves, shirts, purses, ties, etc.
What makes silk so desirable?
The first reference known regarding silk dates back to 2200 BC in the Chronicles of Chou-King. During that time, silk was popular among the wealthy of ancient civilizations. The shimmery appearance and smooth texture have appealed to people for centuries.
In the beginning, gathering silk and making fabric was a time-consuming and tedious task. For that reason, it was in demand, making it a valuable commodity. Today, it’s still a tedious gathering process.
The aspects of why silk sheets are desirable go beyond the shiny and soft texture. Silk is more durable, and it keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It’s naturally hypoallergenic, biodegradable and recyclable.
What are the pros and cons of silk sheets?
It’s prudent to understand the pros and cons of buying silk sheets, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to invest in them.
Silk has superior thermal regulation traits. The lightweight properties of silk sheets made from this fibrous material are breathable and comfortable, both of which will enhance your sleep.
With silk sheets comes an exceptional level of comfort. Silk has a lightweight construction, so it won’t make you feel wrapped up too heavily. A silk sheet’s smooth and soft texture is pleasing to the touch and soft on the skin.
There is another unique trait about silk that makes them more comfortable. That trait is its low-static current production property. If your sheets have ever literally shocked you, silk sheets will not create this effect.
Though pure silk feels and seems delicate, it’s durable. It may be lightweight, but it’s more substantial than a proportionate steel filament. It’s known as the most potent natural fiber on the planet. Mulberry silk sheets are highly resistant to tearing, and it wears better than other bedding materials.
These sheets stay fresher longer, eliminating the need to wash them as often as other fabric sheets. Because of that, they last longer than other bedding materials.
Another positive of the lightweight trait of silk is that it provides almost perfect temperature regulation. Because of this trait, silk sheets are moisture-wicking to keep you cool in the summer and help keep your heat in the winter.
While there are some dissenting opinions about the hypoallergenic properties of natural silk, it does consistently keep dust mites and moisture from causing allergic reactions. It’s believed that the cocoon offers antimicrobial properties that do offer antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.
Other research believes that the only reason antibacterial properties are present is to protect the pupae in the cocoon. However, with the silk fibers isolated, they show no resistance to the Escherichia coil bacteria.
Regardless of what the natural silk fibers offer, genetically modified silkworms may have these antimicrobial traits, which could benefit from sleeping on silk sheets.
GMO silkworms engineered to weave fibers that are significantly stronger and tougher while still maintaining elasticity help create more stable materials that will outlast any natural silk fiber.
Genetically changing silkworms produce a partially hybrid fiber from the silkworm and spiders. The goal is to create fibers we can use across multiple applications, including bedding and sheets.
The claim of being hypoallergenic seems to cross the health barrier since studies claim that natural silk fibers help reduce skin disorders such as atopic and contact dermatitis.
It’s believed that pure silk may also have some health benefits from the health and beauty sector and the medical industry.
Skin and Hair
Like those used in bedsheets, amino acids in silk fibers promote healthy skin and hair. These same amino acids also improve the skin’s metabolism. As a result, the aging process slows down.
While you cannot expect miracles, there is a science to how sheets and pillowcases made from silk have moisture-wicking properties and absorb less moisture than their cotton counterparts to keep your skin and hair hydrated. Hydration is crucial for anti-aging.
Besides anti-aging and healthier skin, natural silk bedsheets may also have a beneficial effect on acne. They may relate this benefit to the antimicrobial properties of silk.
According to one study intended to study the effects of how specific linens affect pressure ulcers in bedridden or long-term patients, silk sheets may also be beneficial for hospital applications.
Like anything you buy, you will find advantages and disadvantages in any product. Silk sheets are no exception.
Care and Maintenance
The care and maintenance of silk sheets are vital to the longevity of your sheets. While silk sheets don’t require frequent washing, there are things you should know about caring for your silk bedding.
The first time you wash your sheets, do so by hand. Once you do that, you can machine wash them using the gentle cycle. Be sure to read the washing instructions on the label of your sheets.
The instructions will provide you with the appropriate temperature to wash your sheets. The detergent you use (something mild, not harsh) and other factors will help you enjoy your sheets for many years.
The proper care and maintenance of sheets made from high-quality silk, including not washing them frequently, is crucial to their durability.
When you buy silk sheets, the price should tell you whether they are 100 percent silk or some combination of natural or synthetic fabrics.
The production and overall making of actual silk sheets are tedious and meticulous. That is why higher-priced sheets result in better quality sheets. Always be aware of the labels and the materials of silk sheets.
There are cheap imitations that use chemicals in their fabrics that will not have the same benefits as the real thing.
Unfortunately, we do not manufacture silk using the best environmental conditions. Steps to change that problem are underway. The most significant impact revolves around chemical usage, energy output, animal rights, pollution, and the impact on communities and workers in the industry.
Regardless of how it affects the environment or communities where it’s processed and manufactured, pure silk remains a luxury, desirable raw material used for making sheets, and more.
Is silk better than cotton for sheets?
This question may provide different answers depending on who you ask. Still, overall, silk sheets have more benefits than cotton sheets. That also applies to other types of the silk bedding.
Cotton and silk are equally durable fabrics, but silk requires less washing and maintenance. Cotton absorbs a lot of moisture, which can exacerbate allergies. At the same time, sheets made from quality silk are hypoallergenic because they are moisture-wicking.
Silk also offers better thermal properties than cotton for temperature control and insulation. People prefer the softer, smoother feel of silk sheets.
How much do silk sheets cost?
Prices for silk sheets vary between brands, the location of the manufacturer, and the quality of the product. You will find sheets made from pure silk to come with a higher price tag than satin sheets, bamboo sheets, and synthetic or cotton sheets.
Bamboo sheets have similar properties, and more vegetarians and vegans desire them. Bamboo is a natural, eco-friendly, healthy material for making many products.
Thai or Indian silk costs less than Chinese silk. Additionally, pure mulberry silkworm sheets are more tedious to prepare and manufacture, so you can expect to pay more.
What you can expect is a price tag of more than $300 for high-quality silk sheets and potentially up to more than $600 for a bedding set made from silk.
How can you choose quality silk sheets?
Quality is the key to enjoying all the benefits of quality silk sheets. The quality measure for silk is a momme. With a higher momme value, you get a better quality of silk used in making the sheets.
The recommendation for selecting the best silk from the American Sleep Association is a momme weight of 15 or higher. The idea is for you to look for silk sheets with minimal chemical additives to prevent the risk of allergic reactions not caused by silk.
Be aware that textile manufacturers may use the charmeuse weave for silk. Still, they also make charmeuse fabric from rayon and polyester. The silk pillowcase or bed sheet labels should tell you.
You may prefer natural dyes over chemical dyes, so you can look for light-colored sheets to reduce the risk of allergic reactions to chemical dyes.
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What is the best temperature for good sleep?
Your body’s temperature tends to change during sleep cycles. Expert recommendations for the ideal sleep temperature believe that the number is between 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius) and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Because everyone is different, your perfect sleep temperature will vary from this norm.
However, keeping your room cooler, and using silk sheets that offer an efficient thermal element that keeps you cool and comfortable at night, is a wise choice. It’s not uncommon to experience more fatigue if you sleep in a hot room over time.
Frequently Asked Questions about Silk Sheets
What are the risks of sleeping on silk sheets?
Suppose you have an allergy to mulberry silk or any silk. The potential of experiencing an allergic reaction is high. Test your sheets for a few days to see if you react badly to the silk. If you do, look for bedsheet alternatives.
Is silk a sustainable material?
Since silk is a natural, biodegradable fiber., it’s a sustainable material. However, because some manufacturers use chemicals to treat silk sheets, they may not be as sustainable as silk. You should always check out the factories from which the sheets come.
When the sheets get manufactured at a resource-intensive plant, the manufacturer is not using sustainable practices. If you have concerns about the environment, research the facilities.
How long can silk sheets last?
Silk bedding can last for ten years or more with proper care. It’s wise to read the manufacturer’s label on care and washing before throwing them in the washing machine. While most silk bedding today is machine washable, that may be due to the additional chemicals and treatments used in manufacturing them.
Do sheets made from quality silk damage easily?
If you are diligent in caring for your silk sheets, they will last a long time. That said, caring for your sheets also means caring for your body. You can damage silk bedding by rough skin or broken fingernails or toenails. Rough, cracked skin and broken nails can snag your sheets, cause pilling, and can pull the silk fibers.
Are silk sheets slippery?
Silk sheets don’t generate as much friction as polyester or cotton sheets, but they are not slippery. Don’t confuse satin sheets with silk. Satin sheets are slippery, while silk bedding is not.
Do silk bedsheets shrink when you wash them?
If you buy good-quality silk sheets, they will not shrink much. If the sheets fit your bed well before you wash them, they will still fit well after washing.
Do silk sheets need to be dry cleaned?
Silk sheets don’t need to be dry cleaned. You can use a silk-friendly detergent and machine wash your sheets in cold water through the gentle cycle. You can expect some of the fabric’s luster to fade over time, but that doesn’t affect the efficacy of silk sheets.
Is silk a livestock product?
Technically, silk is a form of livestock product. Because it comes from silkworms, it’s somewhat like getting milk from cows. Some vegetarians and vegans will avoid buying or using anything with silk in it, including silk sheets.
Are silk sheets worth it?
Overall, yes. Silk sheets are worth the price. After all, what price would you be willing to pay for a good night’s sleep? It’s also a significant investment considering all the health benefits and durability of natural silk fabrics. It doesn’t hurt that they also look fabulous on a bed while also feeling amazing on your skin.
The cost factor is a vital part of buying products and services. If you have the budget for it, it’s worth the investment. You can also consider saving up for buying them if you choose to sleep on actual silk sheets and silk bedding.
When you’re choosing your perfect silk bed sheet type, be sure to check the manufacturer’s label to find out where the sheets get manufactured. You can also learn what’s in the sheets by doing your research. Most information about manufacturers and brands is public information, so you can find almost everything you want to know from an internet search.
From there, you can do more research to learn how silk is made and processed to determine if you are okay with the process of gathering it and manufacturing it.
Knowing what you know now from this information, you can surmise whether silk sheets are beneficial to your health and sleep habits. Sheets made from organic silk fibers can help sleep and require more comfort, better temperature regulation, or better skin health.
Silk sheets are smoother, more comfortable and better at keeping you cool or warm. They are healthy for your skin and have applications that could help reduce pressure sores in hospital patients.
Silk has long been a staple fabric used to make paper, clothing, wall hangings, fans, and more since Neolithic China. Today, you will find silk bedding such as silk duvets, silk comforters, silk pillowcases, and other fine silk fiber linens.
Products made from mulberry silk have been in demand for centuries. Do you think the people who lived in the ancient civilizations where silk was primarily for the rich thought about how silk sheets could improve their sleep?
Are silk sheets worth the hype? That is a question only you can answer. Choosing the best sheets to sleep on is a personal choice.