Earlier this week, Kara Haupt of The New Yorker sent out an edition of her email newsletter under the subject line “Sleeping with Men,” focusing on the fact that many adult men apparently do not use a top sheet. Just a fitted sheet and a comforter and nothing in between, making for a situation that strikes me as gross, uncomfortable and something that should not be seen outside of a freshman dorm. The idea that real-life human males live like this seemed insane to me, so I asked the largest group of idiot adult men that I know: my coworkers.
I was stunned to be met with, “I still don’t totally understand what a top sheet is, which I guess means I don’t use one... Y’all need better duvet covers! Mine is soft and good.” That’s a direct quote from deputy editor Barry Petchesky, who last month shared that he washes his face with dish soap. He went on to claim that you can wash a duvet cover just as easily and as often as a normal person would wash a top sheet and to say, “top sheets are unnecessary, they’d sell them in bedding sets if they were crucial,” despite the fact that top sheets are sold in bedding sets.
Do you use a top sheet, or do you suck?
Drew Magary: Of course I don’t use a top sheet. It’s 2018. They make nice comforters and duvets now. You don’t gotta sleep under a tangle of blankets and sheets like you’re staying at your grandma’s house anymore. The way I sleep the top sheet just ends up balled up and in my ass by the next morning. It’s bed garbage. Fuck the top sheet. The top sheet is the Mormon undergarments of bedding.
Lauren Theisen: A good lifehack is to fold your top sheet up nicely and keep it in a drawer until it’s like June, then make a trade. I sleep with just a top sheet in the summer and just a heavy comforter in the winter. Anyone who does otherwise is sleeping inefficiently.
Tim Burke: Yes I use a top sheet and find it utterly weird that anyone could sleep without one. No duvet cover is as soft as a top sheet and the whole premise is just very weird to even think about.
Giri Nathan: Comforters are the devil. Combine any number of thinner sheets for desired temperature. None of them is the “top” sheet.
David Roth: We sleep with a top sheet, a blanket, and then a comforter over top if it’s cold enough. The sum of all that does tend to get tangled, mis-distributed, and otherwise fucked up. My wife gets cold and I wake up with a little bit of sheet draped over me, or else I wake up in a pool of bedding myself. It was this way when I slept alone, too. I have no interest in sleeping any other way and I have been shocked to learn today that so many of my co-workers—people I trust, people I thought I knew—are so cavalier in their personal lives about the bedding approaches that have carried humanity this far.
Eric Van Allen: Top sheets are for people who like waking up, seeing a top sheet on the floor and thinking, “I will refit this superfluous sheet to my bed and repeat the process.” They provide zero warmth and just get tangled up in your limbs unless you lie completely still for eight hours. Humanity already invented the perfection called the comforter, and applying a Necco wafer’s worth of bedding beneath it just complicates the entire process. Why bother when I could just be cinnamon-bunned up in my comforter and happily snoozing?
I respect those who want to keep some level of decorum, but there are only two times a top sheet will ever sit on top of my mattress: When I’m putting on airs for company, and when I buy a new set of sheets and think, “maybe this one won’t attempt to strangle me in the night.” Any other time, it rests lazily on the floor, where my cat gets significantly more joy from it than I ever will. I live in Texas, if it gets hot, I’ll just throw the comforter aside and sleep in the open air.
Patrick Redford: I used to not use a top sheet sometimes, but I do now because I’m an adult now.
Dan McQuade: Okay. So, yes, of course I use a top sheet. There are really people who don’t? That’s bonkers. What are you supposed to sleep under in the summer, the quilt? Also, my cat doesn’t do this, but some cats like to attack your feet when they stick out from the end of the bed. Tucking in the top sheet prevents that from happening. What are you supposed to tuck into your bed, a quilt? Is that even legal?
Megan Greenwell: Sheets feel amazing, so why wouldn’t you use them? To Barry’s terrible point, duvets might be soft, but they’re not cool and silky because they are basically made out of t-shirt material, not high-thread count percale or whatever (Flannel and jersey sheets are not real sheets and should be legally prohibited). If your sheets don’t feel cool, silky, and generally life-transforming, buy better sheets.
Dennis Young: Of course I do; sometimes I skip the comforter, but never the top sheet (aka “the sheet”). I do live in a very hot part of the South, but this has nothing to do with climate, and I haven’t shifted on this since I was probably ten years old. (And living in much colder places.)