When it comes to buying home items, the most important purchases are the ones you’ll use every day. Chances are, you already know what separates a good comforter from a great one. The best comforters are ones that pull you back into bed even after you’ve hit the snooze button seven times.
We looked at studies and consulted Daniel Barone, MD, a New York City–based sleep medicine neurologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, to help us break down what you should look for in this essential sleep product; below, you’ll find our top picks at every price point.
What are the different kinds of fill in a comforter?
In general, there are two main types of stuffing that can go inside your comforter: down and down alternative.
Down: Down fill is made with actual fluffy goose down (and often blended with duck and goose feathers). These comforters are extraordinarily fluffy, cozy, and warm—all while staying relatively lightweight. When shopping for a down comforter, we recommend looking for one that’s made with Responsible Down Standard (RDS) down, which means the goose farms are held to more humane expectations than non-RDS farms. Down comforters can be especially nice if you live in a colder climate or get chilly at night. Just be sure to read the care instructions for it, as some require delicate detergent or dry cleaning. And if you’re worried about allergies, know this: According to one study, feather allergies are actually fairly rare. If down comforters have made you sneeze in the past, it’s more likely due to mite allergens found in feathers—meaning you should be even more diligent about cleaning it.
Down Alternative: Down alternative fill is typically made with microfiber polyester, lyocell, silk, or wool. Silk and polyester fill are usually on the warmer end of the spectrum, whereas lyocell (which is made with plants like eucalyptus and wood pulp) is on the cooler end. These comforters are often less expensive than down options, starting at just $25, but they also aren’t as fluffy. Another bonus: Assuming you have a large enough washing machine, you can throw these right in to clean them.
What should you look for in a comforter?
Once you decide on a filling, think about how warm you like to be. “I prefer that my patients sleep on the cooler side, because data has shown that lower core body temperature promotes deep sleep,” Dr. Barone tells SELF.
So if you’ve got your heart set on a big, fluffy down comforter, you should turn down your thermostat or opt for cooling bed sheets to achieve that lower core body temp. Alternatively, you can also pick a lighter, down alternative comforter or one with a lower gram-per-square-meter (GSM) count in order to sleep cool. The GSM count refers to the weight of a comforter, and the higher the count, the heavier (and warmer!) it will be. Most of the comforters on this list have a GSM between 220 and 700—and according to enthusiastic reviews we read, that higher end will keep you warm in, say, Northeastern winters. A lower GSM is ideal for sweaty sleepers or anyone who lives in a warmer climate.
In addition to the weight and warmth of the comforter, we suggest looking for one that is described as having baffle-box-construction or diamond stitching, which means there are sections within the comforter to keep the fill from clumping or redistributing over time.
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