How to choose the best bedding for cold winter nights

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Snuggling in bed under a layer of cozy covers makes for a deliciously warm feeling, especially in the face of unrelenting winter chill. If you’re in the market for a new blanket or quilt, be sure to read this guide for advice on how to choose the best bedding for your needs.

Blankets

Shopping for a blanket can feel fairly straightforward. And maybe it is. But with a little information, you’ll be more likely to bring home a product that you’ll cherish and love using.

Start with size. Typically, you’re looking for a blanket that will cover the top and sides of the mattress with a few extra inches to tuck securely underneath. Be sure to measure your mattress before you shop.

Compare fabrics. You can choose from a wide range of materials, and narrowing them down should depend on your preferences. You may suffer from allergies or prefer a smoother texture over a fuzzier one, for example.

○ Blankets made of wool are warm and provide excellent insulation on cold winter nights. Being a natural fiber, wool is breathable. Another useful quality is its ability to wick sweat and moisture away from the body, promoting a dry and warm experience. Woolen blankets are naturally fire-resistant, which makes them relatively safe to use around heat sources.

○ Usually composed of a polyester blend, synthetic fleece blankets are popular because they feel plush, velvety soft and warm. They also can wick moisture from your body, keeping you warm, dry and snug through a cold night. Synthetic fleece blankets are lighter than their woolen counterparts. It pays to ask for ones that don’t pill (produce tiny balls of fibers from abrasion). On the downside, synthetic fleece can conduct static electricity and can attract hair and dust.

○ Ideal for warm weather, a 100 percent cotton blanket is also great during spring and autumn or with air conditioning in the room. Since cotton is a natural fiber, it’s breathable. It’s also hypoallergenic and soft, making it a smart choice for babies, allergy sufferers or those with sensitive skin. When buying a cotton blanket, consider yarn size, fiber quality, thread count and construction. Typically, a good cotton blanket will have a higher thread count.

○ Blankets made of acrylic are a great alternative to their woolen or cashmere counterparts since they’re light, hypoallergenic and warm. What’s more, they are machine-washable and retain their colors.

Do a quality check. “You can really feel a good-quality textile in your hands,” says Kate Pascoe Squires, director of Australian textile company Kate & Kate. “If it feels beautiful, it usually will be. If it’s flimsy, thin or shiny, you know it’s not going to last. Be prepared for balling and pills after the first wash. Good-quality natural fibers will wash beautifully and offer you a gorgeous product for years to come.”

Compare prices. You can pick up a twin blanket for under $20, but it won’t last very long, Pascoe Squires says. “You can also purchase stunning midrange blankets that are great quality but won’t break the bank. In terms of price, you should look at between [$60 and $120] for these items. Then there are super-premium blankets, which can run up to thousands of dollars. The price reflects the beautiful materials used to knit these items, usually stunning wools, creating real heirloom pieces.”

Electric Blankets

If you’d rather invest in an electric blanket, here’s what you need to know:

○ Electric blankets use an integrated heating device to spread warmth through your bed.

○ Electric blankets for children are normally available and labeled as waterproof electric blankets.

○ Thanks to the overheat protection feature, your blanket should sense any abnormal temperature changes and switch off if it gets too hot. However, you should never leave your blanket on all night.

○ Fitted blankets remain flat and taut through the night and feel the same as the mattress underneath it. Unfitted blankets won’t fit around the corners or provide the same level of comfort as fitted ones.

○ Before making a purchase, lie on the blanket to feel its thickness, and check that the wiring is undamaged.

○ Some blankets are available with dual controls, so each partner can control the temperature on one side of the bed.

○ If your blanket has removable controls, you can safely wash it as well.

○ If your feet feel cold easily, look for a blanket with warm foot zones, which focus more heat at the bottom of the blanket.

Quilts
Quilts offer luxurious comfort and add visual warmth to your bedroom. A quilt usually consists of three layers: a fabric backing, a layer of soft batting and a fabric top. Quilting is essentially the art of stitching or tying these layers together, often in sync with the pattern of the top.

Consider the user and the climate. Typically, adults prefer heavier quilts, whereas children are comfortable with lightweight ones. When you’re buying a quilt for your child, remember that you’ll be dealing with spills and other messes.

It pays to factor in climate. Are you looking for a quilt for very cold nights or just cool weather? Do you need something that is season-specific or something that works for all kinds of weather?

Know the types of filling. Quilts filled with natural materials such as cotton, wool, feathers and down are more breathable, softer, lighter and more comfortable. They also will last longer than synthetic or microfiber fillings. Cotton makes an excellent choice for lightweight quilts.

Although down and feather fillings provide the most warmth, they are more expensive and may not be ideal for those with allergies. In these instances, options like microfiber work well since they imitate the look and feel of down without attracting dust. Cotton and wool are naturally hypoallergenic options.

RELATED: Duvet vs. Coverlet – What’s the Difference?

If you’re tired of alternating between a lightweight quilt for summer and a heavier one for winter, consider an all-season quilt.

Care for your quilt. Air your quilt every couple of weeks to keep it in great shape and enhance its longevity. Certain quilts, such as down, are best dry-cleaned, while some can be machine-washed as well. A duvet cover can protect your quilt and add to your room’s decor. Remember to read the manufacturer’s care guide that comes with your purchase.

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