Purposes for bed sheets

What is the purpose of fitted sheets and flat sheets on a bed?

I found these answers while Googling:

[li]Fitted sheet collects sweat and shedded skin, preventing it from getting into your mattress[/li][li]Flat sheet collects sweat and shedded skin, preventing it from getting into your comforter, which is harder to wash/replace[/li][/ul]

Are these the only reasons? They’re fine reasons, and I’m not going to start laying directly on the mattress like a filthy animal, I’m just curious. The SDMB is a good candidate place for somebody to know other more arcane or interesting explanations.

That’s basically it. Plus sleeping on sheets is more comfortable than on a bare mattress.

Personally, I can’t stand top sheets (I just kick them off because they want to murder me.) So I just put up with washing my comforter more often.

Flat sheets were actually necessary in the days of blankets and bedspreads. You wouldn’t want that scratchy blanket touching any part of your skin.

People used to wear full-length underwear for similar reasons - your outer garments might not be straightforward to wash, so you wore cotton undergarments that could be changed and washed more frequently. I guess this is still somewhat the case, especially with underpants and socks.

Sheets are the underwear of beds.

So true, nothing comes between me and my sheets (other than some lucky lady friend). :wink:

Don’t forget these:[ul][li]They collect sweat and shedded skin, preventing it from getting onto the next person who sleeps in that bed.[/li][li]They collect sweat and shedded skin, preventing the old junk from getting onto yourself when you’re feeling fresh and clean and want to stay that way.[/li][/ul]

Fitted sheets? Oh you mean the bottom sheet. Not all sheets that cover the mattress are fitted.

I am somewhat surprised that someone would have to look up why sheets are used on a bed. If you ever wonder about table-cloths or slip-covers let me tell you now the reasons are essentially the same.

“laying directly on the mattress like a filthy animal” Do you mean since you looked up the reasoning behind sheets?

TBH the “keep your mattress and blankets clean” reasons weren’t hard to figure out, just like a tablecloth keeps the table clean (although that’s not as important now that most of the tabletops I see in people’s homes are laminates or treated wood that’s trivial to wipe off). I was just wondering about the non-obvious reasons, especially since the usual resort (Wikipedia) is pretty light about sheets and their history.

Mangetout and moriah probably said the most there is to be said about the subject. Good work everybody.

i would think the top sheet would provide insulation by trapping extra layers of air between you, the sheet and your top blanket.

Ghost costumes. Togas. Kitten toss. Numerous other secondary purposes.

Once, a couple years ago, I answered an ad from an elderly gentleman who was selling his stamp collection. He answered the door wearing a sheet. Flat sheet, with a hole for his head and a cinch at the waist.

I guess he needed the money.

The key fact is that sheets are cheaper than blankets or mattresses.

Thus you can afford multiple sets of sheets, and change them often. This keeps the blankets & mattress cleaner (they are harder/more expensive to clean than sheets), and reduces the wear and tear on them. Also, you can have different sets of sheets for different purposes (flannel ones for winter, light ones for summer, satin ones for entertaining guests in bed, etc.). And you can make sheets softer and more comfortable to the skin, since they don’t have to be as durable as a mattress.

This a common design, occurring in underwear vs. dress clothes (as Mangetout & Moriah mentioned), facing pages in books, envelopes around letters, piecrust around pies, and buns around burgers.

I feel really stupid for tossing out my mattress once a week now.