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Are There Really Health Benefits to Sleeping on White Sheets?

Lindsay Tigar is an experienced, established wellness, lifestyle, travel and love writer, editor and content strategist in New York City. Her work has appeared on SELF, Prevention, AskMen, Refinery29 and dozens of other sites. When she's...

There's a reason hotels use white sheets, but does it have anything to do with your health?

Whether you’re traveling to a new country for fun and adventure or catching a cross-country flight for a business meeting, there’s something luxurious about waking up with the crisp, white, pressed sheets of a hotel when you’re away from the familiarity of your own bed. Do you ever wonder why the many resorts of the world select white sheets — that can be easily stained — over colors? If so, the answer might surprise you.

In addition to being easy to throw in the wash with similarly tinted towels and pillowcases, the internet has started the rumor that white sheets are better for your skin and your sleep quality. While some experts might think this theory is quite the stretch, others see some benefits to recreating that same white turndown service in your home.

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Do white sheets help you sleep better?

If you’re seeking an easier night’s rest that doesn’t require melatonin, counting sheep or putting your trusty iPhone down an hour before your self-imposed bedtime, can white sheets really work their sandman magic?

Not on their own according to sleep expert and dentist Dr. Sabrina Magid-Katz. While no research has proven quality or duration of sleep has been improved thanks to the shade of covers, Magid-Katz explains that there could be a placebo effect tied to happy memories at hotels or to a feeling of cleanliness since having white sheets likely will entice you to clean or bleach them more often.

“Anything that allows you to associate your bedroom with relaxation can help your sleep routine," she tells SheKnows. "If white sheets remind you of your favorite hotel — since most hotels have white sheets — and encourage you to relax, then by all means, go for it.”

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Just make sure not to use this tactic to diagnose insomnia or any other serious sleep issues, she adds: “If sheets don’t take care of your sleep problems, seek professional treatment for any sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.”

Can white sheets improve your skin?

Another school of thought subscribes to the notion that white sheets are a healthier pick for your skin, fighting against acne and clogged pores. According to dermatologists, who often know our skin better than we know it ourselves, white sheets won’t simply improve your skin by virtue of sleeping on them, but they might entice healthier habits to benefit the texture and condition of your face.

Board-certified dermatologist and president of Livad Skin Care Dr. Janet Prystowsky says sheets that show stains encourage a better washing routine. This act alone can strip away the oil you bring to your bed nightly and in return keep it from seeping into your skin while you’re dreaming.

“A pure white sheet reflects on your cleanliness in bed," she explains. "It will keep you honest about your habits, whether you wear makeup to bed, eat in bed, wear outdoor clothing in bed or forget to wash your sheets. Buying a set of white sheets may be the push you need to get your bed hygiene in order. That will definitely reflect positively on your hair and skin.” 

If you happen to have especially sensitive skin, your breakouts could be contributed to dyes present in your sheets. Specifically, plastic surgeon Dr. Scott Newman notes that simple hypoallergenic white sheets might limit the frequency of your breakouts.

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It’s along the same lines as swapping out your detergent — a seemingly harmless move enticed by a sale at your grocery store that leads to a random rash. Because you spend one-third of your day wallowing and nesting in your sheets, Newman says they can be a game-changer for certain skin types.

“Color isn’t a bad thing," he clarifies. "However, nothing else is in contact with your face as much as sheets."

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