Winter bedding is much like winter clothes. If you live in an area that has climate changes from season to season, you most likely have winter clothes and summer clothes. You may even have a special area to store out-of-season things. Isn't it logical that you'd also change the clothes on your bed when warm sunny evenings turn to chilly nights?
You'll find information about how to dress your bed for cold weather with new and not-so-new products for ultimate comfort.
From wool mattress pads and cushy feather beds to lie on, to soft flannel sheets, down comforters and fluffy, wool blankets, there are lots of products to choose from. Only you can decide what combination is the right one for you.
Read on to find just the right products that you can use to create a cocoon for a wonderful, cozy winter's rest.
The Cozy Comfort of Down
Down is the light fluffy coating that protects birds from exposure to the outside elements, and it is probably the most popular product used for lightweight, warm blankets, comforters, and pillows.
Because down can retain just the right degree of warmth for most bodies, it's considered one of the most perfect products for comfortable bedding.
Down bedding products are manufactured in many qualities and prices vary drastically. Depending on your location, you should choose the weight and density for ultimate comfort. Down and feathers are combined for a less expensive product. The finest, most expensive products are made from 100 percent pure white goose down.
Down products are rated by "fill power." Pacific Coast Feather Company says that "fill power is a term used to describe the quality of down. The higher the fill power, the larger and stronger the clusters of down. Large clusters provide superior insulation, breathe better and last much longer than smaller, fragile down clusters."
Down blankets and comforters are sewn with baffles to keep the down filling evenly distributed. Baffle box construction means that the product has internal three-dimensional fabric wall boxes, which allow for maximum thickness and comfort while maintaining even distribution within the boxes. Comforters and blankets with straight-through quilt stitching will have cold spots where there is no down.
Down comforters and blankets are sold in the same sizes as other blankets and bedding. Be sure to measure your bed carefully before you shop for a down blanket. Down comforters are available in many colors, with white being the most common.
If you choose not to use a sheet or other blankets with a down blanket or comforter, the comforter then becomes a duvet. This simple blanket makes it easy for children to make their beds. A simple shake of the comforter over the bed is all that's necessary.
You might decide to cover your duvet with a duvet cover, which is just a big pillowcase for a blanket. The cover can be plain fabric or decorative to compliment your room's decor.
People with allergies to animals might not be able to use down products. But the finest companies wash and rinse their down and feathers up to eight times, removing the dust, dirt, and allergens that cause allergic reactions. Tightly woven fabric covers are leak-proof, so down and feathers won't leak out.
If you love the classic feel of a soft wool blanket or the cozy feeling of climbing into a warm bed, you might like some more of our choices for winter bed linens.
Classic Wool Blankets
Wikipedia says that "Wool is the fiber derived from the hair of domesticated animals, usually sheep." The hair is shorn from the sheep, spun into threads, and woven into a variety of grades, weights, and qualities of the fabric.
Because wool has natural lanolin, it is both fire- and water-resistant. A resulting unique quality of wool is that it retains its warmth even when wet.
According to Woolrich, "In the late 1700s, wool blankets were so important to comfort and survival that they were used as a form of currency between trappers and Native Americans." And today, fine wool blankets are cherished and passed from generation to generation.
Moths love to chew away at good wool blankets, so when not in use, the blanket should be stored in a cedar-lined chest or closet.
Wool blankets must be dry cleaned to retain their size and feel.
A silk-filled, silk-covered comforter has one half the weight of a comparably-sized down comforter. The sense of luxury and softness cannot be surpassed.
For more than 2,000 years, only the emperor of China could wear garments of silk, but now it is available for everyone's home.
Silk fibers are breathable, lightweight, very supple, and constantly equalize temperatures. A comforter of silk conforms to the body and is not as puffy as down. All silk products are naturally hypoallergenic.
A silk comforter needs to be dry cleaned, so it is recommended that you use a duvet cover to protect the comforter and prolong its life.
Space-Age Polar Fleece
Polar fleece is a human-made fiber of polyester. By trapping air in the hollow core fibers, polar fleece provides optimum warmth and softness.
A polar fleece blanket is very lightweight and can fold up into a small space when not in use. It washes up beautifully and does not pill.
Toasty-Warm Electric Blankets
Electric blankets and mattress pads are a great solution if you want instant heat. If you turn the blanket about five minutes before hopping into bed, the bed will be warm and toasty when you get in.
Though some people are concerned about sleeping with electric cords on their bed, Oftentimes, an electric blanket is the ultimate solution to a chilly bed. And while electric blankets are not recommended for children, many children use them and are just fine.
Most electric blankets are machine washable and can be folded, taking care not to crimp the wires.
Electric blankets are available in all the standard sizes and come with a variety of heat controls. For double, queen, and king beds, there are usually two controls so that each sleeper can adjust their side. Some new controls have timers and go off and on as desired.
Does anything feel better than climbing into a warm bed on a chilly night? Even your toes will feel comfy.
Soft Flannel Sheets
Most flannel sheets are made from cotton and are warm, soft, and lightweight. They're perfect for a winter bed and help you feel like you've climbed into a pair of old pajamas. You can pop cotton flannel sheets in the washer and dryer, but the fabric tends to pill after several washings. Some may not like the feeling of the small, soft balls in the bed.
With several new products on the market to sleep on, you don't have to settle for a simple quilted mattress pad anymore. What you put over your mattress can go a long way in helping to keep you warm in the winter.
Traditional mattress pads are filled with down, wool, foam, cotton, or polyester. They're made to soften the mattress, give a smoother feel for lying on, and protect the outer layer of fabric on the mattress. Some mattress pads have corner elastic to hold it on the mattress, while others are constructed to fit over the top and sides of the mattress.
Regular thin mattress pads should be washed regularly and rotated periodically to even the wear on the pad.
More costly mattress pads are designed for warmth and comfort. Some even have copper coils to radiate and hold in natural heat.
Wool fleece mattress pads offer the warmth of wool and the softness of a down pad. Because wool compacts, the loft of a wool fleece pad will become matted over the years.
Dry cleaning is required for a wool mattress pad, as with any fine wool blanket or apparel.
A Heavenly Featherbed
A featherbed is common in other parts of the world, but a relatively new addition to American beds. As the term suggests, the first "featherbeds" were made of feathers. But now polyester, down, feathers, or combinations of feathers and down are used to create a feather bed.
A traditional featherbed is about 4 inches thick and stitched in channels or a baffle box design. With this much cushioning, even a hard mattress feels soft and cuddly. But if you like a firm sleep surface, a featherbed may not be for you. You'll feel as though you're being hugged by the pad.
A featherbed protector will keep the over of the featherbed clean. But you will need to shake out a featherbed every couple of weeks, turn it over, and rotate it on the bed to keep the fill evenly distributed.
Some featherbeds can be washed, but will probably require a commercial size machine. Or have the featherbed dry cleaned at least once a year to keep it looking and feeling fresh.
You don't have to suffer through a winter of cold, chilly nights. With the right products on your bed, winter could be the best time of the year to hibernate.