flat sheet vs fitted sheet on a bed
Bedroom Design

Flat Sheet vs Fitted Sheet: Differences Explained

    Last Updated
    May 31, 2023
    min read

    Wondering what the difference is between flat and fitted sheets? Which bedding is better for you? The main difference between flat and fitted sheets is their purpose and how they are used.

    Flat sheets are primarily used as a layer on top of a fitted sheet, while fitted sheets serve as the bottom layer that directly covers the mattress. Flat sheets are more versatile and can be used in a variety of ways, while fitted sheets are designed specifically to cover and protect the mattress.

    People sleep an average of seven hours a night, most of which is spent laying on bed sheets. Having the right bed sheet option can make your bed feel cozier and more comfortable while you sleep. Purple’s bedding sets come with both a fitted and flat sheet, with innovative stretching technology to help you experience the full support and comfort that your bed has to offer.

    Read on to learn more about the differences between flat and fitted sheets, when and where to use both types of bed sheets and the benefits of using both.

    Your mattress moves to adapt to your body, but normal sheets don't that that. Purple designed sheets so you can experience the full comfort of your mattress.

    What Is A Flat Sheet?

    A flat sheet — otherwise known as a top sheet — is a type of bed sheet that is typically rectangular in shape and designed to cover the top of the mattress. Flat sheets are usually made from lightweight and breathable materials such as cotton, linen, or microfiber. They come in a range of sizes to fit various mattress dimensions and are often sold as part of a sheet set that includes a fitted sheet, pillowcases, and sometimes a duvet cover. 

    Flat sheets have a variety of uses beyond simply covering the mattress. They can be layered with other bedding to create warmth and texture, or used on their own as a lightweight covering during warmer months. They are also easy to wash and care for, making them a practical and versatile addition to any bedding collection.

    Benefits Of Flat Sheets

    Flat sheets can be used in many ways beyond simply covering the mattress. They can be layered with other bedding, used as a lightweight covering during warmer months, or folded and draped over the foot of the bed for added texture and visual interest along with other bed accessories, like throw pillows, duvets, or comforters.

    Flat sheets are typically easy to wash and care for, as they are machine-washable. They also tend to be less prone to wrinkling than fitted sheets, making them a more practical choice for sleepers who prefer low-maintenance bedding.

    What Is A Fitted Sheet?

    A fitted sheet is a bed sheet type that is designed to cling onto the corners of a mattress. 

    Unlike a flat sheet, which is simply draped over the mattress and tucked under, a fitted sheet has elasticated corners that grip the mattress, holding the sheet in place and preventing it from slipping or sliding during use. This makes fitted sheets more convenient and less likely to become wrinkled or bunch up during the night, making them great bottom sheets. 

    Fitted sheets are available in a range of sizes to fit different mattress sizes and depths. Common sheet sizes include twin, full, queen, and king sizes, as well as specialized sizes for extra-deep or extra-large mattresses. You can also put a fitted sheet over a mattress protector or mattress topper.

    It is important to choose the correct size of fitted sheet to ensure a good fit. A sheet that is too small will not be able to cover the entire mattress, while a sheet that is too large will be loose and prone to wrinkling or bunching up.

    While fitted and flat sheets are the two main types of bed sheets, the comfort and feel of your sheets heavily depend on the type of fabrics they’re made of. They can be made of Egyptian cotton, Tencel, bamboo, or other materials.

    Benefits Of Fitted Sheets

    So what’s a fitted sheet used for? Fitted sheets are designed with elastic corners that hug the mattress tightly, ensuring a secure and snug fit that stays in place throughout the night. This eliminates the need for constant readjustment and helps keep the bed looking neat and tidy.

    Additionally, fitted sheets are quick and easy to put on and take off the mattress, making them a more convenient option than flat sheets. They are also less likely to become tangled or twisted during use, reducing the need for frequent bedding maintenance.

    How To Know Which Sheet Is Best For You?

    Choosing between a flat sheet or a fitted sheet ultimately comes down to personal preference and specific sleep needs. Here are some factors to consider when deciding which type of sheet is best for you:

    • Mattress type: Fitted sheets are designed to cling onto the corners of a mattress, holding them in place. This makes them a better option for thicker mattresses or those with pillow tops. Flat sheets can be used on any type of mattress.
    • Sleeping habits: If you move around a lot in your sleep or tend to toss and turn, a fitted sheet may be a better option as it will stay in place and not become bunched up or wrinkled. If you prefer a looser and more breathable covering, a flat sheet may be the way to go.
    • Climate: Flat sheets are mostly lighter and more breathable than their fitted sheet counterparts, making them a better option for warmer climates or those who tend to sleep hot. Fitted sheets may be a better choice for colder climates or those who prefer a snugger fit for added warmth.

    Most bedding sets include both a fitted and flat sheet. The fitted sheet is usually intended to be used as the bottom sheet, while the flat sheet can be used as a layer on top of the fitted sheet or as a lightweight blanket.

    Shop Fitted And Flat Sheets At Purple

    At Purple, we make the decision easy for you, with bedding sets that include both a fitted and a flat sheet. Our SoftStretch Sheet Set is made of a silky-smooth bamboo blend fabric that allows for maximum stretchiness and breathability.

    If you want a softer-feeling sheet that still stretches allowing you to feel your bed’s full support and comfort, our Complete Comfort Sheet Set is made of a cotton and Spandex blend that feels soft and stretchy simultaneously.

    Don’t know when you should get a new set for your bed? Check out our guide on how often you should buy new sheets.

    Flat Sheet vs Fitted Sheet FAQs

    Still not sure what sheets to buy? If you want a more in-depth guide to choosing the best sheets for your sleeping style, read our full article on how to choose bed sheets.

    Can you use a flat sheet as a fitted sheet?

    Yes, you can technically use a flat sheet as a fitted sheet, though it won’t be as secure as a real fitted sheet. To do this, you can use sheet clips to keep your flat sheets in place. 

    Why do hotels use flat sheets instead of fitted sheets?

    Hotels use flat sheets instead of fitted sheets because they are easier to fit onto a hotel bed using hospital corners and are simpler to launder and fold. The elastic on fitted sheets can wear out and lose its stretch, making them unsuitable for long-term use.

    Can I use a flat sheet as a blanket?

    Yes, you can use a flat sheet as a blanket. Because they’re thinner than regular blankets, flat sheets can be airier and less stifling. This makes them great for tropical climates or hotter seasons.


    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.