How to Get the Right Duvet for the Best Night’s Sleep.

If you’re buying new bedding, just as when you’re buying a new bed, there are several things to consider.  Here we’re going to look at duvets and in our second article we’ll look at pillows so that you can buy what’s right for you.

Buying a new duvet.

A duvet (doona in Australia or dyne in Scandinavia) is essentially a soft bag filled with feathers or synthetic fibre, then sewn into pockets or ‘baffles’ which give the quilted appearance.   It’s one of the most popular types of bedding because of its versatility and ease of use.

Duvets have a Tog rating system that relates to their thermal performance.  The higher the number the warmer the duvet.  Here’s rough guide to Togs.  The Tog system isn’t scientific so it may vary a little between countries.

Tog 4.5 – 6.0 is duvet suitable for summer use or use in warm climates.

Tog 7.5 – 12 is suitable for cooler climates or seasons.

Tog 13.5 – 15 is best for colder climates or seasons.

HOWEVER the Tog rating shouldn’t be taken in isolation.  Think also about:

  • How warm your bedroom is at night
  • Your own body temperature
  • How warm you like to be at night – some people prefer to be cooler rather than warmer
  • Your partner’s body temperature – a warm partner may be like sleeping with a hot water bottle!
  • How warm or cool your partner likes to be.  We’ll talk about the best duvet to buy for bed partners who like different levels of warmth in this article
  • The filling in your duvet – down, feather, natural or synthetic fibre
  • The weight of your duvet
  • How do you want to care for your duvet – machine wash or professional cleaning; how often will it need cleaning?  See below for care of duvets.

Some manufacturers make duvets that consist of 2 low-Tog duvets which can be split for summer use and clipped back together for winter use.  They’re often called all season duvets.

Lightweight or heavyweight duvets?

If you prefer the feeling of a light cloud resting over you while you’re lying in bed then a lightweight duvet is the one for you.  The proportions of feather, down and polyester filling vary to give the different weights to the duvet.

However if you would rather have the comforting weight of a cover that makes you feel ‘tucked in’, then a heavyweight duvet would suit you better.

Good quality duvets will be labelled as lightweight or heavyweight when you buy them.

How to get the right duvet filling.

There are 4 main types of filling for duvets: down, feathers, natural fibres or synthetic fibres.

Down filling.

Down is a natural and very light weight duvet filling.  It comes from the breast of a bird (commonly duck or goose) and is able to trap air to make it a good thermo-insulator and very luxurious.

Feather filling.

Feather-filled duvets and pillows are heavier than down-filled products because the feathers each have a small quill (the stiff ‘spine’ of the feather).  This heavier weight is ideal if you like the ‘tucked in’ feeling we talked about above.

Natural fillings.

Natural fillings are wool or cotton.

Wool has the advantage of keeping the body temperature stable and is naturally anti-dust mite which is an advantage if you have allergies and are sensitive to dust mites.  Be careful if you know you’re sensitive to wool products though.

Cotton is naturally breathable and hypoallergenic, also an advantage for allergy sufferers.  It will also keep you cooler at night.

Look here for an article written for allergy sufferers who have poor sleep.

Synthetic fillings.

Synthetic filled duvets are easier to care for as they can be machine washed and are hypo allergenic.  The downside is that they are less breathable than natural fillings.  There are several types.

Hollowfibre, as the name suggests, is a fibre with a hollow centre.  This hollow centre traps air to retain warmth and the fibre is less easily to bend.  This means that the duvet keeps its shape well.

Polyester is one of the most common fillings in duvets and pillows.  It’s hypoallergenic and an inexpensive choice of filling.

Microfibre fibres are very fine, warm and lightweight.  Microfibre is often associated with high performance sportswear.

Washing and caring for your duvet.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing and drying and if your duvet is machine washable, a large drum machine is best.

Most synthetic duvets can be washed at 60C/140F which will kill bacteria and all duvets must be thoroughly dried before they are put back into use.

Natural fibre filled duvets, including feather and down should be cleaned by a specialist duvet cleaner unless the care label states otherwise.

Elspeth Raisbeck

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