The best duvet covers and bedding sets for a better night’s sleep, tried and tested

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We are a nation obsessed with a good night’s sleep. You may have tried tricks like a weighted blanket, wake up light alarm clock or earplugs to help you sleep more soundly, but have you got the basics sorted? Studies have shown that thermoregulation is one of the most important factors affecting our sleep, so bed linen that keeps you at a comfortable temperature could have a tangible impact on sleep quality. As well as a comfortable mattress and pillow, the right duvet cover or bedding set can help you drift off quicker and sleep better.

Plus, upgrading your bed linen is an easy route to an interior refresh that’s less commitment than painting a wall or buying a new piece of furniture.

What type of duvet cover is best?

The main materials used for pillow cases and duvet covers are cotton, polyester, linen or, if you’re feeling really decadent, silk. As the founding director of the MFA textiles programme at Parsons School of Design in New York, Preethi Gopinath is the foremost expert in their pros and cons.

Most bed linen is made from cotton or a cotton-polyester blend. Gopinath prefers bedding that’s made from natural fibres (ie. cotton or linen), but says it’s “a personal thing… The advantage of sheets that are synthetic or a cotton-polyester blend is that they don’t require ironing at all.”

Gopinath personally opts for cotton sateen (often used in luxury hotels) or linen bedding, which has rapidly risen in popularity and has “almost a buttery texture and a softness to it that comes after several washes.”

What is the best duvet cover to keep you cool?

Both cotton and linen duvet covers are cooling, says Gopinath, but if you tend to get overly warm while sleeping then linen is likely the best choice for you. “Linen stays cool on your skin; it has an extra special capacity to stay at a lovely temperature.”

(We reviewed the bedding sets below in spring, so we focused on cool and breathable sets for summer sleeping. If you need a toasty bed, read our guide to the best electric blankets.)

What about the weave?

When shopping for a duvet cover, you may see the terms “percale” and “sateen,” which refer to the different ways the fabric is woven. Again, the choice comes down to personal preference. Classic percale cotton bedding feels crisper, whereas sateen fabric is smooth and silky-feeling.

“[Cotton] percale is a plain weave with the simplest structure,” says Gopinath. “If you look with a microscope, you’d get a chequered pattern. It’s basically as simple as every alternate yarn goes over and under.

“In contrast, satin or sateen fabrics are woven with cloth or yarns that with long “floats”, meaning the yarn is not bound down. The yarn goes over three or four [threads] before it’s locked, so it’s much smoother.”

What is the best quality bedding?

Thread count is traditionally the metric used to explain the quality of bedding, but as Gopinath explains, a very high thread count can’t always be trusted. There’s no reason to look above a 300-350 thread count for cotton percale or a 400-600 thread count for sateen bed sheets.

“What we’re really counting is the “fabric count” – the total number of warp yarns (vertical yarns) and weft yarns in a square inch of fabric,” she says. “If I have very fine yarns, I will pack more into one square inch, and if I have thick yarns, I will pack fewer. Based on that logic, more threads per inch means you have, by default, used a finer yarn. That’s the default assumption of quality – that a finer yarn is of a higher quality.

“But it’s also a marketing tool that cheaper manufacturers use – When people start saying it’s 1000 thread count and it’s cotton yarn, I’m suspicious. There’s a minimum thickness to cotton.” The reason Egyptian cotton is so popular is that it has a longer “staple length” (ie. fibre length) than other cottons, which means it feels smoother, she adds.

How we tested the best duvet covers and bedding sets

Each set of bed linen was hand-tested by a member of the Telegraph Recommended team over the past two months. The bedding sets were slept in and rated for looks, comfort, fabric feel and quality. We also paid attention to how easy they were to launder and keep crease-free.

At a glance – the best duvet covers and bedding sets

Best cotton bedding set – The White Company SantoriniBest silk bedding set – Ethical Bedding duvet and pillowcasesBest bedding set to keep you cool – Simba Performance Bed LinenBest Egyptian cotton bedding set – Hampton & AstleyBest linen bedding set – Cultiver linen duvet cover set

Best duvet covers and bedding sets

1. The White Company Santorini Bed Linen

Pillowcases £20, double duvet cover £85, The White Company

Best cotton bedding set

We liked: the chic details on the Oxford-edge design

The ladder stitched edge on this bedding adds interest to its otherwise minimalist design. It’s made from a smooth 200-thread count pure cotton percale with buttons to fasten the duvet cover. It drapes beautifully and gives my bedroom the feel of a luxury hotel.

£85Buy nowPrice atThe White Company

2. Simba Performance Bed Linen

£40.50 for two pillowcases and a double duvet cover, Simba

Best bedding set for temperature regulation

We liked: the smooth, breathable fabric

Like Simba’s mattress and pillows, their bed linen is obsessively engineered and took my basics to the next level. It has a crisp, 100 per cent cotton percale weave that feels good against your skin, featuring a special temperature-regulating technology (called “Stratos”) originally developed for astronauts’ suits. The cotton used is from sustainable Better Cotton Initiative-certified sources.

£40.50Buy nowPrice atSimba

3. Hampton & Astley Egyptian Cotton Sateen Luxury

£120.70 for double duvet cover and two pillowcases

Best Egyptian cotton bedding set

We liked: the premium feel and fair pricing

This is the kind of bedding you would find in my fantasy five-star hotel. It’s made from a 300 thread count Egyptian cotton sateen which has a lovely sheen, making it seem even whiter than it already is. It creases less than other bedding sets and feels very soft and clean against the skin. Unusually, they offer it on a 30-day trial. Look out for the Hampton & Astley discount that makes it even better value.

£120.70Buy nowPrice atHampton & Astley

4. Marks & Spencer Iris Pure Cotton Spotty Dobby Bedding Set

£69 for a double bedding set, Marks & Spencer

Best textured bedding set

We liked: the dobby cotton details

Smooth 200 thread count cotton, a reasonable price tag and a sweet textured design make this dobby-cotton set a winner if you want simple white bedding with a little added interest. It also comes in grey and duck egg blue.

£69Buy nowPrice atMarks & Spencer

5. Cultiver Linen duvet cover set

£210 for a double bedding set, Cultiver

Best linen bedding set

We liked: the softness of the fabric (and the fact that there’s no ironing required)

Famed for its butter-soft feel and temperature regulating properties, linen bedding is an excellent choice for the summer months. Made in Portugal from 100 per cent European flax, this set from Australian linen specialists Cultiver is pre-washed for softness, feels fresh against the skin and has a holiday cottage vibe: you can almost feel the sea breeze wafting through the window.

£210Buy nowPrice atCultiver

6. Piglet in Bed Bed Linen

Pillowcases from £30 for two, double duvet from £90, Piglet in Bed

Best range of colours

We liked: you can mix and match colours to build your own bundle

Piglet is the top pick of Telegraph interiors and design editor Jessica Doyle. Their stonewashed linen bedding has a lovely relaxed feel and gets softer with each wash. It keeps me cosy when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. There is an excellent range of striped and solid colour options – I’m especially taken with the blue and sage green.

£30Buy nowPrice atPiglet in Bed

7. Ethical Bedding duvet and pillowcases

Pillowcases £49 for two, double duvet cover £89, Ethical Bedding

Best silk bedding

We liked: the silk material is better for hair and skin

This bedding set is made of sustainable eucalyptus silk, made by breaking down eucalyptus wood into ultra-soft fibres. It’s the only bedding approved by the Vegan Society. Like silkworm silk, it helps retain the natural moisture in your skin (unlike cotton, which draws it out), and reduces the friction which can damage hair and cause ‘bed head’. It’s also naturally hypo-allergenic, non-irritating and temperature regulating.

I tried the duvet cover and pillowcases in pure white (they also come in grey or wheat) and I’ve never slept in bedding quite so soft. The texture is smooth and I slept like a baby. The set does have a shine to it, which might put some people off – personally I prefer a matte bedding – but for all the benefits of silk, I think it’s worth the compromise.

It’s low maintenance too, being naturally resistant to bacteria growth. So I don’t need to change the bedsheets as often and when I do, it goes straight in the washing machine (though it’s recommended to wash on cold).

£49Buy nowPrice for pillowcases atEthical Bedding

8. Coco & Wolf Liberty print duvet set

£329 for a double duvet set, Liberty

Best luxury bedding

We liked: the magically floaty fabric

The price is awfully high, but the lovely light fabric used on this high-end set makes the duvet somehow feel weightless. It’s Tana Lawn, a particularly fine, cool cotton discovered by Liberty’s cotton buyer in the 1930s. It has a thread count of 240, feels silky to the touch and holds patterns particularly well, but to keep it that way it’s a good idea to wash this set at no more than 40 degrees. It also shouldn’t be tumble dried. So, not a practical choice — but an indulgent one.

£329Buy nowPrice atLiberty

9. Sophie Conran Scalloped Bedding Set

Pillowcase £28.50, double duvet cover £90, Sophie Conran

Best percale bedding

We liked: the graphic simplicity

The 200 thread-count Indian percale cotton favoured by designer Sophie Conran (daughter of Habitat legend Terry) has a lovely crisp, clean feel, but the scalloped edge is the major appeal here. It’s like something you’d see in a 1920s illustration of a girl’s boudoir, yet simple enough to appeal to men as well. The embroidered edges come in five colours and you get a cotton envelope to keep it in.

£90Buy nowPrice atSophie Conran

10. Sloth London Bamboo Bedding Set

£105, Sloth London

Best bamboo bedding set

We liked: the baby-soft feel of the natural fibres

If you haven’t tried bamboo yet, you’re missing out. It’s as soft and cosy as cashmere, but silky-smooth, rather than fluffy. It’s also hypoallergenic, antibacterial and, since bamboo grows easily without fertiliser, it’s better for the environment than cotton. Most of all, it makes a brilliant bedding material and Sloth London have based their whole business on it.

This set, the only thing they make, comes in three sizes, all white, with piping in six colours. It’s not the lightest bedding set you’ll find – definitely on the cosy side – but there’s no need for hot-sleeping husbands to worry: bamboo is breathable and moisture-wicking, too. Oh, and doesn’t really need ironing, which frankly just seems like showing off.

£105Buy nowPrice atSloth London

11. John Lewis & Partners Mother Of Pearl Organic Cotton Duvet Set

£100 for a double, John Lewis

Best printed bedding set

We liked: the cottagecore vibe, carried through to the little ties on the pillowcases

Mother of Pearl are a British sustainable design label and the lovely wildflower print on this set is by their creative director Amy Powney. The ivory-coloured unbleached cotton is certified organic and feels soft and comfortingly crumpled, so you don’t feel the desire to iron too thoroughly. The double duvet set comes packaged in a square pillow case of the same fabric so you can make a matching cushion for the bed, which is a nice homely touch.

£100Buy nowPrice atJohn Lewis

12. H&M flounce-trimmed duvet cover set

£69.99 for a double, H&M

Best flounced bedding set

We liked: the light and airy weave, perfect for summer

The wide flounces all round this bright white H&M set break up the outline, so that it feels like a giant pile of softness to fall into and get lost in. The flounces can’t really be ironed, but you can wash the 150 thread-count cotton at 60 and tumble dry it, which is not the case with some posh bedding. H&M’s range this year also includes some lovely textured sets with bobbles and raised stripes which feel strangely reassuring against the skin and are well worth checking out.

£70Buy nowPrice atH&M

If you’re looking for more ways to improve your sleep, read our guide to the best mattresses for back pain.

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