Under cover to find the best bed linen for a comfortable night's sleep

The Savannah linens by Matthew Williamson for Debenhams offers modern styling and a pattern to help hide wrinkles (from €30 for duvet and two pillowcases).

Choose your bed linens with care to enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep and to keep their maintenance to a minimum, writes Carol O’Callaghan.

Despite my love of a bit of domestic husbandry, I shirk from the ironing board in the hope of dispelling hardened wrinkles in the warmth of the tumble dryer.

As the new year begins, however, the iron and I have reached an entente cordiale necessitated by the recent upgrading of my bed linen to all white, all-cotton duvet cover, sheets and pillowcases.

There’s not a thread of wrinkle-free cotton blend in sight, but the downside is if you want all cotton to look good, it’s just not possible without some hard graft with a steam iron unless opting for a more forgiving blowsy pattern to help disguise spin cycle induced wrinkles.

My very own top tips for buying ultra-comfortable cotton bed linen, compiled through trial and error, are as follows.

Measure your mattress from top to bottom and side to side. I fell foul of this one after buying a new mattress, assuming that because it’s king size that a king size linen set would fit.

I quickly learned to adhere to the maxim of always read the small print to avoid getting caught out again by a fitted sheet which only comes halfway down the sides of the mattress.

Not only did it ruin the look of my bed, but the sheet had a tendency to ride up and crumple beneath me as I tossed and turned in the night.

If your mattress is extra deep like mine, you’ll need a corresponding deep-pocket fitted sheet. Bear in mind that sheets will shrink a little in the first wash, not by much mind you, roughly 7%, but it’s still a good idea not to skimp on measurements.

Get happy with the iron if you want to maintain this beautiful bed linen scheme of100% cotton linens from bedding specialists Christy (from €155 for duvet and two pillowcases at www.irishlinens.ie).

Cotton thread counts had me googling as to whether I ought to opt for 100 or 900. Did you know that the higher counts are not necessarily better as the threads are thinner?

They will, of course, have the silky feeling of luxury, but will cope less well with wear and tear in the long-term.

I’ve opted for a 200 thread count which gives a nice balance of longevity and a perfect level of softness, although it seems cotton polyester or cotton microfibre linens are still the most popular because of low maintenance and price, it all comes down to personal choice and what works best for you.

They’ll last a long time if you care for them properly. No need for hot temperatures when washing. They’re not dirty as such so lukewarm does the trick. Avoid bleaching as it can discolour even white linens and bleach, apparently, breaks down the cotton fibre too.

Always look at the care label just in case they have a particular instruction you hadn’t considered.

Designer Kelly Hoppen's home interiors range includes cotton Oxford pillowcases with double-piped edging for an added touch of luxury (€28 each at www.kellyhoppen.com).

This is essential when it comes to coloured linens which might ooze dye at high temperatures, and for fabrics prone to shrinking more than anticipated in the first wash.

If you remember, take your cotton linens off the clothesline or out of the tumble dryer just before they’re fully dry as the wrinkles are less likely to set.

And if you forget, throw a clean, damp cloth into the tumble dryer and run it for 10 minutes which will reduce the wrinkles.

This advice was given to me by a wise old owl of housekeeping and it’s sage stuff, making for dreamy rather than typically nightmarish ironing.

When it comes to buying your beautiful new linens, the internet offers an easy way to browse and see the infinite options, but nothing beats an amble around the shops and the opportunity to feel the product in which you’ll be enveloped for up to eight hours a day.

M&S offers lovely foliage bedecked printed linens for springtime. Styling with cushions and throws adds extra comfort and luxury (Watercolour stripe linen €49.50, Bug print linens €49.50, Supersoft throws €29.50).

While buying, and considering January is sale month, think about investing in two sets of linens with some extra pillow cases as these tend to wear out more quickly than sheets and duvet covers.

While one set of linens is in the wash the other is on the bed, liberating you from the urgent need to tackle the ironing and get the linens back on the bed in a hurry.

Leave it until you’re at your leisure, having drummed up the will to do battle with unwieldy sheets on a standard size ironing board.

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