Most of us have had sleep sessions where we’ve tossed and turned, leaving sheets tangled or disheveled in our wake.
Perhaps you’re even like me and you regularly “steal” the sheets from your bed partner! Regardless of the behavior, it is important to rule out a health issue for your restlessness in consultation with your medical provider.
But after you’ve done that—perhaps by keeping a sleep diary for a month—you may alight on other “home remedies,” methods, or products for sheet tangling and slippage.
Sheet slippage or tangling can create poor sleep for you and/or your partner. Multiple reasons hide behind sheets that come off in the night, including wrongly sized sheets, slick mattress materials, or slippery sheet materials such as silk or satin. Yet, because sleep is so critical to health, we’d like to offer these 11 “sheet cheats” to help you keep sheets on your bed at night.
Tip 1: Wrongly Sized Sheets Cause Slippage
If fitted or flat sheets are scurrying off your bed in the night and there’s no underlying medical reason you might be kicking them off, then you’ll need to assess sizing.
If you have discarded the packaging for your sheets, check the label for sizing. Mattress depth is its thickness, measured from top to bottom.
A sheet made for a twin-sized bed that’s accidentally put on a full- or queen-size makes for sheets that pop off. Likewise, if you have an extra plush or thick mattress, you might need to seek deep or extra deep sheets.
Sheet sizing and mattress depth are as follow:
In addition to sizing, sheet composition/material affects its feel and slipperiness.
Choosing a non-slippery fabric for sheets also can help keep them on the bed.
Silk and satin tend to be slippery, so Sleep Sherpa recommends “Instead, choose cotton, linen, or flannel sheets, duvet covers, and quilts, avoiding any fabric that is shiny and silky to [the] touch” (Source).
Tip 2: Check with Your Physician to Rule out Medical Causes
Your sheet size and material are good, but have you ruled out medical or life-stage reasons for your insomnia or restlessness?
For example, it is now known that perimenopause- or menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats can last 7 to 11 years and can affect up to 80% of women in menopause (Source).
Could night sweats or hot flashes be causing you to kick off your sheets?
Your physician or other medical provider should be your first stop for weighing issues that impact your health, such as hot flashes or other sleep disturbances.
A medical expert can also tell you whether a few instances of restless legs have graduated to full-fledged RLS (restless legs syndrome; also called Willis-Ekbom disease) or if another condition underlies your restless-leg symptoms, and they can offer treatment options to the approximately 10% of people who have RLS (Source).
Tip 3: Use Flat Sheets Like Hotel Housekeeping Pros
Hospital and hotel housekeeping staff know choice ‘secrets’ about bedding, including how to get those fabulous corners that resist tangling, dishevelment, and pulling off the bed.
Most recommend a three-step or three-part bedding “sandwich” (or lasagna, if you prefer!) that keeps sheets smooth and secure on the bed.
For a first layer or foundation, you can use either a flat sheet or a fitted sheet (Source).
With a flat sheet, you’ll tuck it all around the bed, whereas a fitted sheet can use either elastic banding or zippered opening to go around or encompass the mattress.
Home décor experts can also teach us how to assemble a three-piece bedding “burrito” encompassing fitted sheet, flat sheet, and duvet cover for a teen’s or adult’s bedding.
This just-under 6-minute video from the creator of My Changed Life offers an expert walk- and fold-through of how to get your bed sheets into a precise, difficult-to-tangle bedding burrito.
She also says it will last through a couple weeks’ use—or whatever short duration you prefer before washing your bedding.
Let us know if you put any of these techniques or products through your own personal sheet-tangling or slippage test!
Tip 4: Avoid Hard Exercise That Ups Temps Within ~1 Hour of Sleep
By now, you probably know all the benefits of staying active. Exercise helps your heart, it relaxes or stimulates your mind (boosting your mood), it builds and tones your muscles, and it improves sleep when well-timed.
Good sleep is intimately related both to timing and temperature—and in how our body governs the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, called circadian rhythm (Source).
Our body temperature rises throughout the day, then it kind of falls off a cliff in the evening to prepare us for sleep.
As Dr. Peter Fotinakes, medical director of a hospital sleep disorders center says, “The sense of feeling physically sleepy occurs with this drop in body temperature, so things that influence body temperature also influence sleep” (Source).
Intense exercise, which tends to be aerobic (i.e., taxing to the cardiovascular system) raises core body temperature, so it naturally will affect sleep quality, cycling, and duration.
Something like push-ups might or might not qualify as intense exercise, depending on how much it ups the heart rate (that is, the exercise intensity) and the time over which the exercise is performed (Source).
The latest best evidence is that because it stimulates your body, vigorous exercise should be avoided for at least 1 hour before bedtime (Source and Source).
Dr. James Ting, a sports medicine physician and NFL team doctor, notes that, “The gradual decline in core body temperature that occurs post-exercise helps to trigger drowsiness and facilitate sleep. Exercising in the morning or afternoon will allow that decline in core temperature to occur at night just in time for bed.”
So, feel free to get your sweat on—just save your more intense workouts for anytime 1-2 hours BEFORE you hope to fall asleep.
Tip 5: Prevent Sheet Slippage with a Little Help from Straps
Both Mattress Nut (Source) and Sweet ZZZ (Source) recommend straps for your fitted sheets or mattress topper.
Mattress toppers are usually separate from fitted sheets (and fit under or over them) and exist to address medical or (dis)comfort issues.
I’ve found several types of sheet-gripping straps but have not experimented with them all. The two main strap types that seem to get the best results for most people, whether used for mattress toppers or fitted sheets, are as follow:
Sheet strap type 1: Triangular or suspender grip
Triangular grip or suspender-type fasteners are made by companies such as Rareccy and have been reviewed many times on Amazon.
They affix to each fitted-sheet corner underneath the mattress.
Rareccy says its system consists of “elastic straps, metal clips and built-in plastic clenching system” in a triangular pattern for the straps/grippers themselves.
- ❤ 4PCS Adjustable Sheet Straps: With the elastic straps, our sheet suspenders allows desired tension and fit all edge of sheet for heavy duty purpose. It is very convenient to adjust them to the...
Sheet strap type 2: Criss-cross/diagonal grip
So-called Sheet Stay-Downs is another product I’m eager to try! These are diagonal (criss-cross) straps in a patented design by the Hold-Up Suspender Company, which also makes traditional suspenders for clothing.
Their “patented DUO (2 per pack) are longer bedding Stay-Down mattress sheet fasteners that are adjustable to fit diagonally across any twin- to king-sized mattress, no matter the thickness.
The other style is the Quad (4 per pack) Stay-Downs made to attach at the corners of your bed, that adjusts at either end using the Velcro-type adjustment strip feature” (Source).
Tip 6: Bed Huggers Help Secure Sheets
Sheet slippage, meet giant elastic bands that “hug” the perimeter of a fitted sheet.
One thick and sturdy band that a range of users like is the Rubber Hugger, which secures fitted or loose sheets onto a mattress.
- For Proper Sizing: Read these bullet points and review chart in the pictures for proper mattress sizing. The band is not designed to make your sheets wrinkle free or totally immobile if they are...
Tip 7: Mattress Toppers Skip Slips
In that they are subject to slipping themselves AND can take sheets and covers with them in the process, mattress toppers can be secured with Velcro or straps, among several techniques.
As Mattress Nut advises: “Typically, mattress toppers slide off when the surface of your regular mattress is uneven because it is old or when there isn’t enough friction to keep the topper in place. It also happens when there is no headboard or footboard to act as stoppers or when the sizes of your bed frame, mattress, and topper aren’t good matches.”
Toppers also provide comfort to some restless sleepers, so they are less likely to toss and turn, an action that can peel away the flat (top) sheets.
Tip 8: Weight, Weight: Sheets Can Be Heavy, Too!
Weighted blankets may be a buzzworthy product, owing to their reported anxiety- and insomnia-reducing effects, but did you know weighted sheets are also a thing?
Weighted sheets are often billed as sensory sheets or compression sheets and can help people with anxiety or autism who might want a hugging feeling without human touch.
Weighted sheets most often seem to replace the blanket.
One well-liked compression sheet geared toward children—generally those older than about age 3 or 4 years—is the weighted sheet by Special Supplies company:
- Relaxing Sensory Experience – A smart alternative to restrictive weighted blankets, these sensory sheets help relieve stress and increase calmness
But, more than that, these heavy-weight sheets can also be sensory envelopes that reduce a user’s anxiety and, thus, kicking off sheets.
Tip 9: Sew Straps onto Fitted Sheets
If you’re handy with a sewing needle (or machine) and fabric in ways that I’m not, you might like to try sewing your own fitted sheet with straps.
This video could really help you if you have more than basic sewing skills; I found it understandable, even though I don’t do more than easy sewing repairs à la securing errant buttons.
Tip 10: Duct Tape or Safety Pins—We’re Not Fans
In a pinch, you could use duct tape or safety pins to secure fitted or loose sheets. Each attaches to some pretty big negatives in my book, though.
With duct tape, it will leave “gum” all over the place and may not stay secure while you sleep. It also could pull hair or get caught on clothing.
Safety pins, besides becoming loose during the night and possibly stabbing you—ouch!—also are unlikely to provide good overall, balanced coverage for either a flat sheet or a top sheet secured to blanket, etc.
Plus, every time you remove them to wash the sheet, you create another hole—albeit a tiny one. All these holes, which may lead to larger-scale rips, will reduce your sheet’s durability and comfort pretty quickly.
Tip 11: Skip the Sheet Altogether; No Sheet, No Slippage
We recommend having a fitted sheet or mattress cover to protect the mattress and your good health. But what about top (or flat) sheets that rest on top of you and just below a blanket or duvet?
If sheets coming off the bed is a problem, have you tried going without a top sheet and using only a duvet or blanket?
For some, it may be too weird-feeling, scratchy, or hot, but for those who can adapt, there may be benefits of not ending up with a ball or melted heap of sheets after sleep since there’s no oversheet to discombobulate—or fight over.
One Yummy Mummy Club writer and her bed partner have been without a flat sheet for at least a year and report great results with the caveat that if you do “ditch the flat sheet,” remember that it “only works if you have a duvet cover that is washed as frequently as your sheets [for hygienic reasons]” (Source).
Comfort is very individual, and whether you can ditch your top sheet or you need other interventions for slipping or balled-up sheets probably will depend on a series of trial-and-error techniques or products that fit your bedding, mattress, and preferences best.
As long as there is not a medical reason for your insomnia or tossing and turning, many of the aforementioned sheet cheats are good to consider.
We hope you’ll find a sheet-securing method or product that works for you—we’d love to hear what you’ve found.
In the meantime, we wish you sweet—or should we say “sheet”?—dreams!