Why aren't my sheets staying on the bed? A sleep editor investigates

Sleep experts and bedding designers explain why your sheets keep slipping off your bed − and how to tie them down

Bed Threads Linen Bed Sheets on a bed.
(Image credit: Bed Threads)

Your bed sheets shouldn't move when you do. You should feel free to toss, turn, and even get in and out of bed without worrying that your fitted sheet will spring off the side of your mattress or your flat sheet will fall off the edge of the bed.

When you're shopping for sheets, it's easy to filter the search to find linen sheets or cotton sheets, sheets that are suitable for hot sleepers and those that are designed for colder climes. Type in 'sheets that stay on the bed', however, and you're unlikely to yield any results. So, you can't get your sheets to stay on the bed, and you can't find new sheets that will – you must be at your wits' end. 

That's where I come in. As H&G's resident sleep writer, I spend my days researching the best bed sheets, and I spend my nights testing them out in my own bed. I've seen sheets that are too small, too large, too thin, too thick to stay on the bed, and I feel your frustration. That's why I've spoken with sleep experts and bedding designers, each of whom offered their insights into why your sheets aren't staying on the bed and their strategies to help you solve the issue. 

My sheets are too small to stay on the bed

Bed Threads Linen Sheets in Lavender on a bed.

(Image credit: Bed Threads)

I know this sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how often it happens: check the size of your sheets. You might be trying to stretch a full-sized set over a queen-sized bed. Don't worry, you're not alone: investing in the wrong-sized sheet set is one of the most common bed sheet mistakes you can make. The difference in sizes might seem slight, but it becomes significant when you're working with snug fitted sheets. 

If your sheets are the right size, but they're still coming up a little small, then the problem might be with your pockets. Bedding designer Parima Ijaz explains that 'sometimes, when your fitted sheets have insufficiently deep pockets, they struggle to gain a strong grip on the mattress. That's why the corners pop off so easily, with little to no effort from you'. 

Perhaps your problem isn't with your fitted sheet, but your flat one. 'Without enough spare fabric and proper tucking, the sheet will either be pulled out from under the mattress very easily, or barely be wide enough to tuck in,' says Parima. 

Too-small sheets make it that much harder to make your bed in the morning, and they might just impact your sleep. Puckered fitted sheets and inflexible flat ones can 'cause discomfort,' warns Parima, 'and lead to lack of sleep if you find yourself constantly having to fix them'. 

Headshot of Parima Ijaz.
Parima Ijaz

Pure Parima is a luxury bedding brand that aims to deliver premium products without the premium price tag. Parima knows all the do's and don'ts of bedding design,

My sheets are too big to stay on the bed

Luxe Core Sheet Set on a bed.

(Image credit: Brooklinen)

Perhaps you have the opposite problem. It's not that your sheets are too small to stay on the bed, but that they're too large. The weight of excess fabric might be pulling your sheets over the side of the bed. 

Bedding designer Sally Topcuoglu understands that 'it's uncomfortable to deal with too much fabric, especially if you toss and turn while you sleep'. You don't want to drag your sheets from one side of the bed to the other, especially if you share that bed with your pet or partner. Too much fabric often leads to a skewed distribution of sheets, so that one sleeper swelters while the other is left out in the cold. 

Not only is it difficult to sleep under oversized sheets, but it's hard to make your bed in the morning. 'When sheets are too large for your bed, they will bunch up, wrinkle, and hang over the edges,' says Sally, so 'it's a challenge to keep your bed neatly arranged'. 

You might like the look of a dramatic drape, but no one wants a puddle of sheets on the floor: that's where they might pick up dust and dirt to aggravate your allergies and irritate your skin. 

Headshot of Sally Topcuoglu.
Sally Topcuoglu

Sally is the creator of Jonela, the luxury bedding company. She studies sleep patterns, works with physical therapists, and partners with the best textile companies in Turkey to create her own brand of bedding. Jonela seeks to address the most common sleep issues while offering classic and sophisticated styles. 

How can I stop my sheets from coming off the bed?

Signature Sateen Sheet Set on a bed.

(Image credit: Ettitude)

It's so much harder to sleep under the wrong-sized sheets. I asked sleep expert Chelsey Borson whether she knew any home remedies to keep sheets in place, and she had a few bright ideas. 

'Using sheet straps or suspenders can be incredibly helpful' to secure fitted sheets, says Chelsey. In case you haven't come across them, sheet straps 'are small elastic bands that attach to the corners of your fitted sheet and anchor it tightly to the mattress. This should prevent any slippage.' You don't even need to spend much money. For example, you can pick up a pack of four sheet suspenders for less than $3 per piece at Walmart.  

Headshot of Chelsey Borson.
Chelsey Borson

Chelsey is the founder of Luna Leaps, a Los Angeles sleep clinic that provides personalized sleep coaching for babies and support for new parents. Chelsey understands that good bedding can help you get a good night's sleep and agreed to lend her insights for this article. 

If you're really sick of your sheets and you want a whole new set, then Chelsey suggests that you 'look for sheets that have deep pockets and elastic all around the edges. This will help them stay snugly in place on your mattress, even with movement'. 

If you choose to shop at a specialist sleep store, then you might be able to get your hands on some high-tech sheets. 'Opting for a sheet set with innovative design features should help your sheets stay on the bed,' says Chelsey. 'Some brands offer sheets with special grippy corners, snaps, or other mechanisms to keep sheets in place in the night'. 

Ultimately, the best-fitting sheets are designed by experts, cut from the finest cloth and crafted by artisans. I've rounded up a few of my favorite sheet sets at the fairest prices you'll find online to save you time and money.

Bed sheet FAQs

Who makes the best bed sheets?

Brooklinen make some of the world's best bed sheets: currently, they're the only bedding brand with a double entry on our best bed sheets buying guide. Their Luxe Core Sheet Set is classically tailored to stand the test of time, while their Organic Hardcore Sheet Bundle is OEKO-TEX certified and garment-washed for softness.

For thermo-regulating sheets, shop at Sunday Citizen: each sheet set is ranked against a temperature spectrum, so that hot and cool sleepers alike can find the bedding bundle that's best for them. 

If you want to find the sheet set that perfectly complements your color palette, try Bed Threads. You can browse color categories of earthy, simple, serene, retro, and bright shades until you find the combination that blends best with your bedroom decor. 

What's the best bed sheet material?

When it comes to bed sheet types, cotton is a classic for a reason. It's one of the most versatile bed sheet materials. There are different varieties, from absorbent Egyptian cotton to breathable Turkish cotton, as well as different weaves. Percale feels stiff and starchy, while cotton sateen should feel slippery and smooth against your skin. 

Linen sheets are flexible and durable. The material might start out a little scratchy, but it should get softer with every wash. If you're keen to shop sustainably, though, you might be better off with wool, eucalyptus, or bamboo bed sheets. These bio-based materials are naturally moisture-wicking and antimicrobial to help you sleep fresh and keep cool. I'd recommend wool, eucalyptus, or bamboo bed sheets to hot sleepers and eco-conscious shoppers alike. 

Every material has its merits: even polyester. Super-stretchy and wrinkle-resistant, the best polyester bed sheets should lie beautifully on your bed. Polyester does tend to trap heat, so it's much less suitable for hot sleepers living in warmer climates. It's one of the least sustainable bed sheet materials and can look a little cheap.  

Our verdict

A gingham throw against white bedding.

(Image credit: Piglet in Bed)

Your sheets aren't staying in place because they aren't the best fit for your bed. There might be a fault with the manufacturers, and the sheets aren't quite sized correctly, or there might be a mix-up between the size of your mattress and the size of your sheet set. If it's troubling you, you could pick up a set of sheet straps or suspenders to hold your fitted sheet in place. It's harder to make a misshapen flat sheet fit: you might just have to tuck your sheet more or less into your mattress. If you can afford it, it's well worth replacing your wrong-sized sheets with a set of the best bed sheets from a specialist sleep store. 

Emilia Hitching
Sleep Editor

Emilia is our resident sleep writer. She spends her days tracking down the lowest prices on the best bedding and spends her nights testing it out from the comfort of her own home – it's a dream job. Her quest to learn how to sleep better has taken her all around the world, from mattress factories in Arizona to sleep retreats in Scandinavia. Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford. She also worked on the other side of the aisle, writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky.