5 Silk Sleep Essentials Worth the Investment

From scrunchies that prevent hair breakage to pillowcases that keep your skin hydrated to silk pajamas you can toss in the wash, these buys will take your sleep game to the next level.

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October 02, 2020

I’m an extremely light sleeper. I get hot. I’m sensitive to light and sound. Basically, I sleep in a cold, dark cave. Even then, it’s hard for me to fall asleep. To help, I’ve been improving my “sleep hygiene” and giving my bedtime routine an overall wellness makeover. I made obvious changes such as cutting out screen time, but I also changed most of the fabrics I come into contact with at night, from bedding to my hair scrunchie. I swapped out all synthetics and a lot of cotton for silk.

THE BENEFITS OF SILK

Yep, silk. As in, $$$$$ real silk. Why make the splurge? Because natural silk products have a lot of benefits for troubled sleepers.

  • If you run hot, silk’s thermoregulating properties will keep you cool.
  • If you have allergies, silk is more resistant to dust mites than cotton.
  • And if you have dry skin, silk is really your friend because, unlike cotton, it’s moisture resistant.

SILK 101

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and that’s true with silk. To determine the quality, silk is measured in momme weight. The higher the “mm,” the better the quality silk. Good silk typically starts at 16 mm. And great quality starts at 22 mm. But no matter the quality, all silk is pretty delicate compared to other fabrics and should be hand washed. Never, ever put silk in the dryer as high heat can damage and dull the fabric.

Terms to Know

  • Silk Charmeuse: A woven technique for silk. This method can also be used on satin, but satin charmeuse is not silk.
  • Cultivated Silk: Silk produced by silkworms living in captivity as opposed to wild silk harvested from silkworms found in the wild.
  • Mulberry Silk: Silk produced by silkworms fed an exclusive diet of mulberry leaves. Mulberry silk is considered the highest quality silk.
  • Momme Weight: Japanese form of quality measurement for silk. Abbreviated as mm. The heavier the momme weight, the better the quality of silk.

SILK VS. SATIN

So, why is this magical fabric so pricey? And why not just buy satin? It’s because one is found in nature, and the other is synthetic. Both silk and satin have that buttery soft feel, but only silk has the wellness benefits. And that’s because it’s a natural fiber. It’s expensive because it’s not made in a lab. It’s harvested from tiny silkworms. Satin is not a natural material; it’s just a term for a weave. So, satin could be made with silk, but it’s typically made from synthetic fibers such as polyester, which is why it’s significantly cheaper. It’s also why “silk” catches on rough skin, but real silk doesn’t. When shopping for silk — especially online — be careful and read fabric labels thoroughly. Manufacturers can get sneaky about labeling “silk-like” material. Phrases such as “silky satin” or “satin charmeuse” might only have one percent real silk or no silk at all.

Yes, silk is high-maintenance and expensive, but if you take good care of silk, it will last for years. There are so many ways to outfit your bedroom in silk, from pillowcases to PJs. We’ve rounded up our favorite silk essentials below. Shop our top picks for a better night’s sleep.

Silk Pillowcases

If you’re switching to silk, the first change to make is your pillowcase. It might seem strange to spend so much money on something so simple, but you spend a lot of time with your pillowcase — about 3,000 hours a year! A cotton pillowcase isn’t doing your skin any favors. Cotton retains moisture so well that it actually pulls hydration from your skin. Silk, however, is moisture resistant and helps your skin stay hydrated. This is especially beneficial during the winter when skin gets extra dry and flaky. So which silk pillowcase is best? There are a lot of options, and we’ve tested tons in various budgets. My personal favorite is the Slip Silk pillowcase. At 22 mm, the company’s proprietary silk is the best of the best. And unlike other brands, it comes in both standard and king sizes and in a handful of trendy colors and patterns. Now, once you get used to the luxury of sleeping with a silk pillowcase, it’s hard to give it up. For road trips and future travel, I’m a big fan of the NIGHT Pillow. It’s only 19 mm, but it’s portable. The ultra-plush memory foam somehow squishes down to a third of its size! I’m never leaving home without it.

Editor Review
Editor Review

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Silk Eye Masks

If you’re going to splurge on one piece of high-end silk, it should be the one that goes directly on your face. Like pillowcases, silk sleep masks are so much better for your skin than cotton or synthetic blends. Again, my favorite is Slip. And I know $50 for a sleep mask sounds ridiculous, but you’re getting the Cadillac of silk. Slip products are made with the highest-grade (6A) long-fiber mulberry silk and what’s really important to me is the company’s commitment to non-toxic dyes. I’ve also tested this mulberry silk budget mask from Amazon, but it doesn’t last that long. Slip products can actually go in the wash on delicate, and I’ve even accidentally sent a couple through the dryer. The cheap Amazon one? It came out of the wash looking like a crumpled piece of paper. If you’re interested in testing a silk sleep mask, I think the Amazon option is perfect, but if you want something that will last for years, buy the Slip mask. And even if you don’t sleep with a mask, an eye covering can be great for meditation or simply unwinding before bedtime. These 16 mm eye pillows from Halfmoon Yoga are stuffed with herbs such as lavender and crystals such as amethyst to promote relaxation.

Silk Pajamas + Loungewear

Pajamas are where you really see the difference between silk and imitation. True silk fiber has thermoregulating properties which are heavenly if you run hot at night. It’s great for hot flashes, too. Australian brand Papinelle has some gorgeous silk styles for tops, bottoms, robes and more. The 16 mm silk has a super buttery feel that I haven’t found anywhere else. Another 16 mm favorite is from Soma. They only have a small selection of 100-percent silk items, but what they do have is absolutely stunning such as this floral kimono-style robe. Both of these brands — like most retailers — recommend hand-washing, which brings me to my top pick for silk pajamas: Lunya. This loungewear company is shaking up the silk business with 19mm washable silk pajamas, robes and rompers. You’ll still need to hang dry, but throwing items in the wash sure beats hand washing in the sink. I also like Lunya because they have more colors and inclusive sizing available for each style and cut.

Silk Hair Accessories

One of the biggest beauty benefits for silk is that its tight fibers don’t wrinkle or crease hair. If you blow out your hair or curl it, silk scrunchies or wraps can help the style last longer. And styling aside, silk decreases general frizz. As someone with curly hair that has a mind of its own, I appreciate waking up with smoother hair. I’m a big fan of Slip’s scrunchies. They’re made with the same high-end silk as the pillowcases and sleep masks and they come in several different sizes. I use the large scrunchies for ponytails and buns. But for that 90s oversized scrunchie look, I love the 20 mm hand-dyed scrunchies from Riverside Tool & Dye. Each scrunchie is totally unique and features an ultra-soft charmeuse side. For overnight hair wraps, Silke London has a series of pure mulberry 22 mm turbans in super-chic colors and patterns.

Silk Sheets + Bedding

If you’ve scrolled this far, you’re serious about silk overall. So, let’s talk bedding. Silk sheets represent total luxury. A true mulberry silk flat sheet for a full/queen mattress can range anywhere from $500-$900. That’s a lot, but if you take care of silk sheets they’ll last for years. If you add up all the cotton sheets you’ve purchased and replaced, it nets out about the same. Shopping for silk sheets is where you really have to pay close attention to labels. Brands — even big-name designers — will try to label satin or satin blends as silk. My rule of thumb for shopping silk sheets online: If the price sounds too good to be true and you can’t confirm the momme weight, it’s probably not legit. One of the most popular silk bedding brands is Gingerlily. At 19 mm, the silk sheets and duvet covers come in lots of different neutrals to work with the bedding you already have. Another popular brand is LilySilk. Here, you can get your hands on 22 mm and even 25 mm silk sheets, throws and duvet covers. They even have silk comforters with a silk fill. These are great if you’re sensitive to dust and allergens as silk fiber is naturally more resistant to dust mites.

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