Cotton, the basics
We have all experienced cottons' absorption benefits in one way or another. Whether it be through a Q-tip or a cotton ball, we’ve seen the materials’ absorption powers and its strong affinity for liquids. But how does that relate back to skincare and sheets?
Cotton garments can hold up to 27 times their weight in water! The molecular makeup of cotton consists of oxygen-hydrogen groups that line the edge of cotton’s long cellulose molecule creating an extremely ‘hydrophilic’ or water loving environment. Due to this, cotton will continue to suck up any water it comes in contact with until it reaches its extremely high saturation level.
Other materials, microfiber for example, don’t share these same properties. Although It will still attract water, there are fewer oxygen-hydrogen molecular groups within the fiber creating fewer opportunities for it to do so. This is the main reason why many athletic companies have switched to synthetic materials, engineered without these water absorbing opportunities, to maximize dryness and breathability for function. Not only is that an important feature for our active wear but also for other sweat prone materials such as bedding!
Now you may think, what does this have to do with bedding? One study found that 41% of people experience night sweats that leave us in soaking sheets. Not only can this be uncomfortable, but when sweat is trapped by your cotton sheets that take hours to dry, you are left with a cold, damp and uncomfortable nights sleep. The biggest disadvantages of cotton is the extended time it takes to dry, stretching when it is wet, and the uncomfortable chaffing from the more harsh fibers. It takes only a couple of minutes for sweat to evaporate from our skin therefore a material that won't absorb sweat is the optimal choice for a dry and comfortable nights rest. When just under half the population is dealing with night sweats it seems impractical that cotton would be the most commonly advertised bedding fabric.
Microfiber to the rescue!
Synthetic fibers are being studied and adapted constantly for athletic wear but why not bedding? Microfiber is naturally less absorbent and has several beneficial properties for the skin. Microfiber is hypoallergenic by nature and incredibly soft, preventing tugging and keeping your skin from developing fine lines. It's low absorbency creates a sweat wicking barrier that prevents dirt, dust, and water from being absorbed by the material. These are enormously beneficial for a material that might not get the same washing consideration as our clothes. Dirty sheets can cause acne and several other skin sensitivities. They can also irritate pre-existing conditions such as dry skin and eczema. Between your body, your pets, or just life in general, our sheets tend to put up with a lot. Synthetic fibers offer a solution to cottons downfalls not to mention the increased comfort offered by extremely soft microfiber sheets.