The devil's work or a bedtime essential? We need to talk about top sheets.

At any given moment, The People are passionately arguing about something online, whether it’s Donald Trump’s latest gaffe or whether or not various Game of Thrones characters are really dead.

However, all of these issues are currently being trumped by The Great Top Sheet Debate.

The question of whether a top sheet is necessary has been dividing humankind for eons, but this week it’s been reignited in a big way — and we have the folks at GQ magazine to thank for that.

In an op-ed published on Monday, writer Maggie Lange posited that top sheets are “a scam”. Lange’s central argument is that top sheets are fiddly, ripe for tangling, and inherently flawed in design.

“Unless every element is perfectly aligned, making a bed with a top sheet will always look messier than if there were no top sheet. There are more ways to be disorderly than there are to be orderly,” she writes.

As you might imagine, top sheet evangelicals were not willing to take this criticism lying down (between their sheets). As such, the internet has lit up with strongly-worded rebuttals and even name calling — only “heathens” forgo a top sheet, according to one Twitter user.

Watch: Mums confess to what they do after they’ve put the kids to bed. (Post continues after video.)

Time to kick off your doonas, friends, because this is getting heated.

It’s practically impossible to be ambivalent about the top sheet issue — we all need to sleep, after all — but just in case you’re still on the fence, here are the arguments you need to consider.

The case for top sheets

1. Doona cover preservation

It’s true that you can wash your doona cover whenever you want/need to, but who in their right mind wants to do that? Especially if your doona is one of those fancy creations with sequins sewn in, or it’s hand-made and delicate, or it has rich colours that might fade if over-washed. Above all this, putting covers back on doonas is frustrating and time-consuming and a right pain in the bum.

There’s also the hygiene issue — better to let a top sheet take the brunt of your sweat/fake tan/makeup remnants/recently-applied moisturiser/bodily detritus than to inflict it on (and possibly stain) your lovely doona cover.

As GQ writer John Ortved argued in his rebuttal to Lange, “People don’t see the shame and mire of your top sheet; they see your duvet. You can only flip that thing so many times.”


2. Temperature regulation

Sometimes, your doona is just a little too warm — but that doesn’t mean you want to be completely exposed to the night air when you kick it off. A top sheet provides the perfect middle ground; you get a little bit of coverage, but not oppressive heat. Perfection.

Sometimes, a top sheet is just enough. (Image: Paramount Pictures)

3. Added warmth when required

A flannelette top sheet makes all the difference in winter. Sure, doonas bring the necessary heft to conceal your body heat and incubate you against the chill, but the snuggle equation requires a lighter, softer layer closer to the skin. This is just fact.

4. Textural satisfaction

"I don't like when the textures of the thing I'm lying on and the thing that's covering me aren't the same," one top sheet-lover in the Mamamia office tells me. A little niche, perhaps, but it's a valid point.

Also, the sensation of slipping between two freshly-cleaned sheets is hard to beat. Particularly in warm weather, they feel cooler and fresher.

The case against top sheets

1. Physical oppression

'I just get tangled in them!' the anti-top sheet camp will tell you. 'They oppress me!'

One of the resident anti-sheeters at Mamamia HQ likens the experience to being swaddled, "especially in hotels where they're so tucked-in."


A life without top sheets is a life less tangled, apparently. (Image: Universal Pictures)

2. An unnecessary step

The thrust of this argument is: why spend money on another sheet when you can just wash your doona cover?

3. Relationship dramaaaas

Some argue that while sleeping with a top sheet is achievable when you're alone, it's almost impossible to pull off when there's someone else in the bed with you. One extra body = more limbs to flail about in the middle of the night.

"I share a bed with someone who gets tangled and then wakes me up to sort out the confusing, horrible mess," one victim tells me. "And to be honest, I don't want to be the Dr Phil of bedding at 4am." Fair.

Image: Paramount Vantage pictures

 4. Complicates bed-making

You don't need to be a mathematician to figure that a two-step bed-making process is always going to be quicker and simpler than one with additional layers.

With a fitted sheet-and-doona combo, all you really need to do is shake out your doona and toss it back onto the bed — no need to fuss about with tucking in and neatly folding down a top sheet.

So. It's time to pick a side: where do you stand (well, lie)?