Many view Blankets as old-fashioned, while duvets are seen as the modern alternative to easy living. Beyond this distorted perception lie some sleep hygiene facts that may compel you to reimagine your lifestyle choices. Both blankets and duvets serve a common purpose, yet the sleep hygiene they offer is worlds apart. Read on to find out why.
What is a blanket?
A blanket is essential, a woven piece of fabric large enough to cover our bed and entire body to keep us warm while we sleep. There are many different types of blankets made from different fabrics, and a combination of fabrics where each one will have unique characteristics that aid and improve sleep quality.
What is a duvet?
A duvet, not to be confused with a comforter, is also a bed cover that keeps us warm while we sleep. A duvet has two parts to it, the first is the inner part which is like a quilted blanket filled with a natural or synthetic filling, and the second is the outer part which covers the duvet much like a pillowcase covers a pillow. The duvet cover is usually made from cotton, cotton blend, or synthetic fabric.
Being interchangeable means the aesthetics of your bedroom can be changed with little effort but, more importantly, allows for frequent hassle-free washing.
Some different blanket types.
A blanket is a unique type of bed covering; however, the word “blanket” is used as a universal term that relates to the many different types of bed covers, excluding sheets, used for warmth and decorative purposes. Conventional blankets and duvets are included in the list below that give a basic rundown of the different types of blankets:
Coverlets are smaller than conventional blankets and are mainly used to spruce up the look of your bed. It is essentially a thin, lightweight throw used to cover the thick warm blanket on your bed from below the pillows and will not extend to the floor either. It can also be styled over a portion of the bed, but unlike a good throw, it offers very little in the way of warmth.
Quilts are also decorative bed coverings and are usually made in a patchwork pattern that may include different fabrics. Although quilt sizes vary, they are made with a dual function; aesthetics and warmth.
Afghans are knitted or crocheted squares called “granny squares” stitched together to form the blanket. Predominantly made from wool or other natural material of different colors, Afghans provide both warmth and a colorful bed cover that functions as a throw that can snuggle under while on your couch in front of the TV.
A comforter is a duvet inner and cover all in one and does not need a separate cover. This simplifies its use which is both decorative and for warmth. Unlike a duvet that may bundle up inside the cover, a comforter will maintain its shape like a conventional blanket. Comforters are made with a quilted fill that can be natural or synthetic. The fill type determines the thermodynamic and other characteristics of the comforter.
A bedspread is an oversized coverlet designed to cover the entire bed and reach the floor. They are more for aesthetics than providing warmth, but some bedspreads are made thicker and provide extra warmth.
Electric blankets are small blankets that house a protected grid heating element that warms your bed while you sleep. It is designed to be placed in the middle of your bed beneath the fitted sheet and has a few temperature settings to suit your needs. Electric blankets can be hazardous if not checked regularly or switched off and unplugged when not in use.
Weighted blankets were designed as a medical device to calm people with sensory issues. Weighted pellets are usually made from glass or are added to the blanket fill and quilted to evenly distribute the weight. They are warm, and the weight mimics being hugged, promoting calmness. These blankets come in different weights and sizes to fit the age and body type of the individual. Although snuggling under a weighted blanket is comforting, they are not designed for general use and is not used for babies and young children to avoid health risks.
A throw is smaller and usually thinner and lighter than a conventional blanket. Throws are mainly used as decorative pieces in different areas of the home. They can be draped over beds, chairs, and couches, folded into wicker baskets, or displayed on a throw ladder in your living room. A throw is an easy-to-reach warmth item for both indoor and outdoor use. They are versatile, lightweight blankets that can be laid down for a picnic or used to cover your legs for a bit of warmth. Throw designs and colors make them a popular all-season must-have item in the home. Afghans are similar to throws but are larger and warmer, whereas coverlets are similar to throws in size and weight but are designed for a specific use.
Sleep hygiene, blanket vs. duvet, which is better?
Most people who prefer blankets will traditionally make their beds with two sheets; one to cover the mattress like a fitted sheet and a flat sheet to serve as a shield between you and the blanket. Blankets of old were made with thicker fibers that tended to be scratchy on the skin, and a soft cotton sheet was initially used to prevent skin irritation.
Sleep studies found that dead skin cells, skin yeast, and bacteria flake into our beds while we sleep. The study also revealed night sweat issues, oil secretion from our skin which rubs off on our bedding, and saliva drooling onto our bedding. All this compounded with a heat-generating mini-environment in our beds promotes bacteria growth, leading to allergies, skin disorders, and bad body odor.
Cotton sheets help to reduce the transfer of dead skin cells into our blankets, and being hypoallergenic also helps to prevent the growth of allergens in our beds. This sounds good, but many people have discarded their top or flat sheets and slept directly under a duvet. A poll conducted on a home design website shows that close to 40% of people no longer use top sheets. Some people may sleep directly under modern plush blankets that are super soft and very comfortable but using two sheets with blankets is still pretty much the norm.
The move away from using a top sheet with a duvet simply makes it easier to make the bed and reduces the laundry. This reasoning has not been thought through enough because it means that the duvet cover serves as a top sheet, and not all duvet covers have the same hypoallergenic qualities as sheets do. If the fitted sheet and duvet cover are not changed and washed weekly, the risk of odors, increased dust mite population, and bacteria growth will begin affecting your sleep pattern.
Blankets made from natural fibers, including wool and cotton, have desirable properties like moisture-wicking, temperature regulating, naturally fire-resistant, odor-resistant, and hypoallergenic. Natural fiber blankets supersede synthetic fiber blankets as far as promoting quality sleep and sustaining a hygienic sleep environment is concerned.
Duvet inners are also made from natural materials like goose down and have properties like being breathable, but a thick winter down duvet tends to trap heat. The mix of material and fabric used with duvets and their different covers means that you can tailor your bedding to suit the type of sleeper you are. Still, you might be compromising on essential characteristics needed to maintain a sound sleep environment. You may have to purchase two duvets for winter and a lighter one for summer, but the comfort and ease of use are worth the investment. You do not have to use a duvet in summer if you stay in a warm region; simply use your duvet cover as a thin blanket to help regulate your body temperature while you sleep.
Deciding on blankets or duvets is a personal choice, and duvets do not necessarily mean poorer sleep hygiene. Still, we know that washing bedding, substantial bulking items like blankets and duvet inners, is not something we do nearly as often as recommended. Wool blankets, duvet inners, and comforters can be aired on the washing line in the sun during the day to disinfect them. Sunlight and wind will get rid of dust mites. In fact, it is common practice among people in the U.K. who use duvets and comforters to air their bedding for a few hours each day before making their bed.
Sleep hygiene is essential, but procrastination often improves the cleaning routine we set ourselves. Reintroduce a top sheet if you’ve given up the habit and change your bedding once a week or fortnight at the most. Air your duvet inner and blankets at least once a week as well, and wash them at least once a month. This may seem excessive, but it all goes to improving your sleep environment. There is nothing better than soft, comfortable, and fresh-smelling bedding.
Blankets versus duvet remain a personal choice.
This article on blankets vs duvets has no natural conclusion as the choice between the two is based on personal preferences and will differ from person to person. Choosing either one will provide for a comfortable sleep environment that can be tailored to specific needs.
The main sticking point pivots on the frequency of bedding care, and we are all undoubtedly guilty of pushing the envelope on keeping our bed hygienically clean. Taking care of our sleep environment ensures more peaceful sleep. Adopting a good habit of regularly changing our bedding and correctly washing soiled bedding will give us a sleep space that will always be inviting. Quality sleep is the cornerstone of our health and wellbeing.