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Why Everyone Wants to Sleep on Linen Sheets (Just the Flax!)

What’s better than a freshly made bed? According to every #naplife Instagram lately, it’s a freshly made linen bed. The textured sheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers went from being kind of a relic to super in-demand, bolstered by the fact that the material gets softer with each wash and gives off that casually rumpled look that makes for the perfectly imperfect bedroom. Get comfy as we pull back the covers on their rise—part of our collective ambition to achieve a good night’s sleep.

The Origin Story

For thousands of years, people have been spinning fibers of the flax plant into linen cloth. Ancient Egyptians established the first linen industry and used the fabric for clothing, fishing nets, sailcloth, shrouds for the dead, and, yep, bedding. In Mesopotamia, only royals and religious leaders wore linen because labor-intensive production made it extremely costly. Phoenecian traders first brought linen to Europe in 900 B.C., and, by the Middle Ages, it became a fabric for the masses thanks to the Romans establishing linen manufacturing in Britain and Western Europe. Starting around the 13th century in Europe, linen became used as durable, breathable bedding. Ireland became known for producing high-quality linen in the 17th century, and, later, fine linen production spread through France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

The Rise to Fame

Linen is known to be lightweight, breathable, and durable—just the right qualities for catching some z’s. Linen sheets are an obvious choice for hot summer nights because of the fabric’s cooling, moisture-wicking properties, but there’s an argument for keeping it around in the winter, too: It can regulate temperature with its thick fibers and loose weave. And who wants to wake up sweaty?! We can probably thank the unmade bed trend for setting off this craze—after all, what’s a better life hack than embracing artfully wrinkled as an aesthetic? There’s also the bonus of linen being made from 100% natural fibers, which last and last, making them better for planet. There’s even a sustainable linen brand that lets customers swap out bedding for a fresh set every few months for a fee, while refurbishing older sheets.

5 Ways to Explore

  1. Ready to try linen sheets but not even sure where to start? Try here and here for some solid picks. And, we’re quite partial to Wamsutta!
  2. Go deep into linen care with these tips from a pro.
  3. Crack the code to the perfectly made bed—and some say a cheaper alternative to a linen duvet cover—with this triple-sheeting method.
  4. While we’re on this subject, an expert clean person breaks down how often you should wash your bedding.
  5. Maybe the easiest way of all to zhush up your bed: a colorful linen throw.

Flax On