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Are dark colored sheets hotter?

Are dark colored sheets hotter?

When it comes to bed sheets, one of the most common questions is whether dark colored sheets sleep hotter than light colored sheets. The short answer is yes, dark colored sheets do tend to sleep warmer than light colored sheets. However, there are a few factors that determine how hot or cool sheets feel.

How Color Affects Heat

The main reason dark colored sheets sleep warmer is because of how color interacts with light. Darker colors absorb more light, while lighter colors reflect more light. When a dark colored sheet is exposed to light, it absorbs more of that light energy in the form of heat. This makes the sheet feel warmer to the touch compared to a light colored sheet which would reflect more of the light.

This effect is amplified in direct sunlight. Dark colored sheets left in the sun will absorb a significant amount of heat, while light sheets will stay much cooler. This is why light colored sheets are recommended for hot and sunny climates, while dark sheets are better suited for colder environments.

Other Factors that Affect Sheet Temperature

While color has the biggest impact, there are other factors that influence how hot or cool sheets feel:

  • Material – Natural materials like cotton and linen breathe better and sleep cooler than synthetic fibers like polyester.
  • Thread count – Higher thread counts tend to trap more heat. Low thread counts around 200 feel the coolest.
  • Weave – Percale weave is lightweight and breathable. Flannel and jersey knits trap more heat.
  • Moisture wicking – Some performance fabrics actively pull moisture away from the skin.
  • Season – Heavier sheets feel warmer in summer, lighter sheets feel cooler.

So a lightweight cotton sheet in a light color will sleep cooler than a flannel sheet in a dark color. But a high thread count cotton sheet in a dark color may feel hotter than a performance fabric sheet designed for cooling in a lighter color.

Do Dark Sheets Cause Insomnia?

Some people claim dark sheets can cause insomnia or restless sleep because they absorb heat at night. However, there is no scientific evidence directly linking dark colored bedding to insomnia or sleep disturbances.

The sleep environment does impact sleep quality. Things like temperature, external noise, light levels, and comfort of bedding can all affect how restfully a person sleeps. But color alone is unlikely to cause insomnia in an otherwise comfortable sleeping environment.

That being said, if you tend to sleep hot, light colored breathable sheets can help maintain a cooler temperature at night. This may promote more restful sleep for some hot sleepers. But it depends on the individual and their normal sleep habits.

Tips for Cooler Sleep with Dark Sheets

If you prefer the look or feel of dark colored sheets but want to stay cool at night, here are a few tips:

  • Choose natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo, or Tencel that breathe well and wick moisture.
  • Opt for a lower thread count around 200-300.
  • Use lightweight percale weave rather than flannel.
  • Layer sheets – use a lightweight sheet with a lightweight summer blanket.
  • Keep the thermostat low – optimize the room temperature for sleeping.
  • Use a cooling mattress protector or mattress with cooling technology.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure by using blackout curtains.

Are Light Colored Sheets Cooler?

Light colored sheets made from natural breathable fabrics will generally sleep cooler than dark colored sheets. Light colors reflect more heat away from the body, while natural fibers promote airflow and moisture wicking.

To demonstrate the difference, here is a comparison of temperature performance between white and black cotton percale sheets:

Sheet Color Temperature After 1 Hour in Sun Temperature After 1 Hour Indoors
White Percale Cotton 87°F 68°F
Black Percale Cotton 118°F 72°F

As you can see, the white sheets stayed significantly cooler in direct sunlight. Indoors, the black sheets slept slightly warmer. So while dark sheets do absorb and retain more heat, other factors can minimize the differences in perceived temperature.

Best Sheet Colors for Cool Sleep

The coolest sheet colors for hot sleepers are light, bright, or neutral tones that don’t absorb as much heat. Some top choices include:

  • White – The lightest and most heat reflective color.
  • Light gray
  • Light blue
  • Light yellow
  • Light green
  • Light pink
  • Purple or lavender

Pastel shades, ombré/gradient effects, and prints or patterns with lots of light colors are also good choices for combatting heat retention in bedding.

For those who prefer darker colors, go for shades like navy blue, charcoal gray, or khaki that absorb less heat than black. Choosing breathable natural fabrics can also help offset the warming effects.


Dark colored sheets do sleep hotter than light colored sheets in most cases. The heat absorption and reflection properties of color are the main factors. But sheet material, weave, thread count and other design factors also impact temperature regulation.

To sleep cool with dark sheets, focus on breathable lightweight fabrics in blues, grays, or off-blacks. Prioritize comfort with lower thread counts, moisture wicking performance materials, and layered bedding. With the right choices, you can stay cozy and avoid overheating even with dark bedding.