Couples are Divided Over This One Bedding Component, Including Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent

Our bedding preferences can make or break our bedtime setup, and you may need to compromise when it comes to this one specific component

A pile of multicoloured bedding on a bed in a bedroom with a dark painted wall
(Image credit: Urbanara)

Our bedding is vital to a good night's sleep. Every element, from your mattress to your pillowcase, plays a part in helping you get the best rest possible. We all have our preferences - be it the material of our undersheet, the plumpness of the pillow, or the weight of a comforter - but besides these various features, it might be the specific bedding setup that makes your bed distinctly 'yours'.

Of course, some bedding components are mainstays in a modern bedroom. A mattress, a pillow, and an undersheet make up the basics we can all agree on, and - in most cases - a comforter, too. Other bedding elements, however, are more contentious, and, as a result, often cause problems for couples who share a bed. For example, maybe you like a heavy feather-down comforter while your partner prefers a lightweight one, and maybe you'd opt for a firm mattress where they'd choose a softer version. Getting the setup just right so it satisfies you both can feel impossible.

Even celebrity design couple Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent disagree on one divisive bedding element, one that Nate finds an extra layer of comfort but Jeremiah absolutely detests. It's sure to split opinions, but what do bedding experts have to say? Here, we spoke to some to find out.

The crux of this great bedding debate? The controversial top sheet, also known as a 'flat' sheet. In a quick questions Instagram reel with his decor brand Nate Home, Nate revealed the details behind this divisive bedding element to his followers. 'I love a top sheet, but Jeremiah cannot stand a top sheet,' he tells the camera. 'I don't know why but he's vehemently opposed to it, so I always use it and he doesn't use it so our bed is like lasagne: I'm in one layer he's in a totally other layer.' As it turns out, they're not the only ones at odds with their bed setup. The question is, is a top sheet worth it when it comes to how to style a bed, or are we better off without them?

What is a top sheet, and should every bed have one?

a bed with white and sage sheets next to a wooden nightstand with flowers

(Image credit: Brooklinen)

'Also referred to as a "flat sheet", a top sheet lies directly over you, with the duvet or blanket on top, creating an additional, lighter layer to the bed,' explains Deborah Fiddy, CEO and founder of luxury bedding brand, Gingerlily. 'It can be a wonderful addition to a bed, both in physiological terms as well as delivering aesthetic appeal.'

While common in the US, top sheets aren't universal. 'According to traditional European-style bedding, a duvet and a fitted bottom sheet are all that is needed to classify as a well-made bed, however, American-style bedding disagrees and says a top sheet is needed in between,' notes Genevieve Rosen-Biller, founder of Bed Threads. 'When only a fitted sheet is used, it’s traditional to use a duvet as a topper because the cover can be washed regularly. But when a top sheet is added into the mix, comforters, blankets, and duvet covers that are harder to clean can be used because that handy flat sheet acts as a hygienic barrier.'

So, the primary purpose of a top sheet is a hygienic one by providing an extra layer between the skin and the heavier cover. That said, people often find that it adds an extra layer of comfort too, helping them sleep better. 'They're also easier to wash more regularly, which will help to keep bed linen fresh for longer,' notes Deborah. 'Being lightweight and breathable, it is a good choice for those who experience temperature changes whilst they sleep, offering an instant cooler option that still feels comforting.'

But of course, this controversial bedding component does have its downsides. Many of us - Jeremiah included - find flat sheets not only complicated to style but also claustrophobic to sleep in, and if you're a restless sleeper, it's more than likely you find yourself tangled up in your top sheet every morning. That said, the bottom line is there's really no 'right' or 'wrong' way to style your bed - just stick to whatever works for you.

How should you style a top sheet?

A bedroom with pink walls and white sheets styled on a bed

(Image credit: Gingerlily)

Of course, there's an aesthetic benefit to top sheets, too (ensuring you know how to properly style one, that is). Typically, they're folded over the very top of your comforter to offer a strip of contrasting material near your pillow for a neat and tidy look, but there are plenty of ways to experiment with the way you want it to look.

'Suppose it's a decision that is about temperature regulation - in that case, a top sheet can be simply laid on top of the fitted sheet with the duvet on top, as an invisible layer,' says Deborah. 'Or, if opting for a top sheet with a decorative edge or detailing, you can choose to fold the top of the sheet over the duvet, revealing the pattern and adding an extra touch of personality, colour and pattern to the bed.'

Can you compromise on a top sheet if sharing a bed?

A bedroom with blue wall and cream and wood accents

(Image credit: Malissa Mabey. Design: Susannah Holmberg Studios)

Of course, if you share a bed but only one of you prefers to sleep with a top sheet, you'll need to come to a point of compromise. Fortunately, Deborah says it doesn't have to be a binary decision on whether to sleep without one or not.

'A top sheet is such a light piece of bedding that it can easily be pulled towards one side of the bed at nighttime if the other person would prefer to not have it as an extra layer,' she says. Or, you could use Nate and Jeremiah's 'lasagne' method, with one person sleeping on top of the flat sheet and the other sleeping under it in the traditional way (although, it would create a barrier between you both!).

'If it's a decision that's about temperature regulation, then it may be worth considering a "half and half" silk duvet, which is divided down the middle with one half of the duvet a summer weight, while the other half an all-seasons weight,' Deborah adds. 'This will suit partners who prefer a different duvet weight and is the perfect solution for couples who want a tailored level of comfort.' The best bedding brands such as Gingerlily, Saatva, and Brooklinen, all offer these 'dual' bedding options.

Ultimately, the answer to the most cozy bed possible is whatever particular bedding setup works best for you, but remember to meet halfway if you share a bed! That truly is the secret to a long and happy relationship...

A post shared by Nate Berkus

A photo posted by nateberkus on

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.