Getting a good night's sleep is one of the most, if not the most important things in your day-to-day life. It gets you ready for the day ahead, and allows you to sleep off the hardships of the last 12 or so hours. Unfortunately, focusing on ensuring the quality of our sleep has become increasingly difficult nowadays, and most people don't even think about how their bedding accessories and surfaces they sleep on affect their rest.
One of the most important factors affecting the quality of your sleep are the things you surround yourself with when going to bed. The quality of your mattress, pillows, or bedsheets all affect how you're going to feel in the morning, regardless of how long you've slept. So many people don't pay enough attention to these items, leading to a bad sleep epidemic that is plaguing quite a few countries in the developed world.
What you cover yourself with while you sleep belongs in that key category of products you need to pay particular attention to when shopping for bedding sets. European-style duvets are considered to be some of the most comfortable covers to sleep under, and while they're pretty much the only correct choice on the Old Continent, duvets have failed to become as popular in the United States and Canada. This article will shine a light on what is a duvet, why you might want to consider switching to one (especially during wintertime), as well as dive deep into the difference between a comforter and a duvet, as the two are often confused.
What Is a Duvet?
Before getting into all the details and differences between duvets and other types of bed linens one uses to cover themselves up with at night, we should answer one fundamental question first: what is a duvet?
The typical European duvet set consists of two parts:
- The duvet insert: the insert is the part of the duvet that actually keeps you warm at night. It is a rough, durable bag filled with down, or genuine duck or goose feathers. Nowadays, it is a common practice to use synthetic fibres as feather substitute. While this is certainly the more bird-friendly approach, you've got to keep in mind that synthetic fillings may provide less warmth than natural solutions. On the other hand, many people are allergic to bird feathers, with synthetic duvets remaining the only suitable choice for them.
- Duvet covers: this is the outer part of the duvet. While it doesn't really do much in terms of keeping the sleeper warm, duvet covers are very important for the comfort of your sleep. First of all, they serve as a barrier between you and the duvet insert, susceptible to sharp feather ends sticking out of it. Secondly, the protective cover is also the part of a duvet that is frequently washed. Sticking the duvet inserts in a washing machine may lead to it flattening out or damaging the outer casing (losing feather as a result). In order to keep the insert clean, and the person using it as comfortable as possible, covers are used. If the duvet was a pillow, then the duvet cover would be its pillowcase.
Of course, while cleaning the duvet covers on a regular basis is a must, you shouldn't forget about cleaning the duvet insert from time to time, as well. In that case, though, you should take it to a dry cleaner that specializes in cleaning different types of bed sheets. Otherwise, you may cause irreversible damage to your precious duvet.
Contrary to a comforter or a bedspread, a duvet is a bedding item that is meant to cater specifically towards people living (and sleeping) in colder climates, where the freezing winters just beg for a warm piece of bedding that delivers proper insulation. Although many people swear by duvets even in the summertime, those who aren't used to the level of warmth it provides should probably keep a down comforter or a weighted blanket around to use when it gets hot outside.
The Duvet: a Brief History
This thick and warm blanket-like piece of bedding with an alien-sounding name has its origins in rural continental Europe. Strapped for heat, the peasants had to figure out a way to keep themselves warm at night without access to all of the amenities that aristocrats were privy to. The solution: filling up a large bag with all sorts of feathers that were readily available at the time. The first duvets were most commonly filled up with duck or geese feathers.
Once the aristocrats caught wind of the new, effective way to keep warm in bed, more improvements were made to the duvet "prototypes" of the peasants. Eider duck feathers have been found to be the best thermal insulators, and were used in the most expensive duvet versions. Another addition to the original formula was the duvet cover, meant to prevent users from getting duck or geese feathers onto themselves while sleeping, as well as reduce the need for washing it too often, a practice that often damaged the bag and led to feathers slipping out. The soft, flat bag that served as a duvet cover solved that problem.
Types of Duvets & Their Differences
Despite being a seemingly narrow niche, the world of duvets is full of detail and intricacies, all of which should play into your decision regarding exactly what duvet you should buy for your bed. The two most important factors are the Tog rating and the materials used as duvet fillings. Below, you can find a more detailed description of these factors and how they can affect your sleep.
The Tog rating is a scale commonly used by the bedding industry manufacturers to assess the scale of warmth that each particular product can provide. It is most frequently used with duvets, but you may also find the Tog rating on comforters, blankets, or even bed skirts. The ratings are based on measuring the duvet's level of insulation, meaning its ability to trap air and provide warmth to the sleeper.
The scale goes from 1.5 (not too insulating) all the way to 15 (will probably keep you a bit too warm). Tog rating ranges are commonly used to define the specific seasonal type of a duvet. You can find them here:
- 2.5 - 6 Tog: The level of insulation here is not too high, making duvets with these ratings perfect for the summer, as well as for sleepers who prefer to keep their body temperature on the cool side at night. Duvets falling in that range may not be enough for the winter or autumn, but will still provide you with that pleasant weight over your body that only a duvet can deliver.
- 7 - 10 Tog: Getting warmer! Tog rating between 7 and 10 can be attributed to a spring/fall duvet, and is very appropriate for households located in mild climates with the outside temperature oscillating between 10 and 25 degrees Celsius for most of the year.
- 11 - 13.5 Tog: This is the range you should go for when shopping around for a winter duvet. Probably too warm for any other season, a duvet with such a high Tog rating is guaranteed to keep you nice and cozy when every other piece of bedding fails. Unless you live in the Arctic, a 13.5 Tog duvet may not be too practical all year round, which is something you should consider when getting a new bedding set. A popular option in Europe is a 2-in-1 duvet set containing a 4-Tog and an 8-tog duvet. They can be used separately in the summer and autumn, and put together in the wintertime for a snuggly, 12-Tog-rated winter shield.
Difference Between a Duvet and a Comforter
With these terms often being (mistakenly) used interchangeably, it is understandable that many people may be confused with regard to the difference between a duvet and a comforter. Both duvets and comforters provide more warmth than a regular blanket, but calling them the same thing is too far-fetched.
Comforters are typically much lighter than duvets, and can often be found as part of all-in-one bedding sets. Like a duvet, a comforter is also stuffed to keep its users warm. However, the most common material used to fill comforters is cotton fill, as well as various synthetic materials. Feathers are used in comforters sometimes, but they're the less-preferred alternative, which brings us to the second main difference between duvets and comforters.
As opposed to a duvet, a comforter does not have an outer cover. This means that after penetrating the outer layer, feathers that were used to fill it up could annoy the user, getting all over the bed and stabbing them with their pointy ends. Due to this reason, comforters are also less cost-effective when you're redecorating your bedroom. With a duvet, all you've got to do is buy a new duvet cover, whereas in the case of comforters, you'd have to buy a whole new set.
Reasons Why You Should Switch to a Duvet Today
So, why should you switch to a duvet? They may not be as popular in Canada as they are in continental Europe, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't give them a shot! Below, we've compiled a convincing list of three reasons telling you why buying a new duvet set this winter will be of benefit to you and your family.
- They're warmer. Regardless of whether we're talking about comforters or blankets, there is no getting around the fact that nothing beats a duvet when it comes to sheer warmth. This is an especially important factor in Canada, where the winters get unbearably cold all over the country -- using a duvet during wintertime will undeniably have a positive impact on your sleep quality and mood during these dark and snowy months.
- They're cheaper (in the long run). Sure, the price of a duvet is higher compared to that of a comforter or a simple blanket, but it's only because you're not factoring in how long a single duvet will last you, compared to these other forms of sleep covers. They are more durable and don't require as much washing (thanks to the duvet covers). A good duvet can last you for years before you even start thinking about a replacement!
- They're more practical. Although putting on a duvet cover is kind of a chore, the fact that you can keep the same duvet throughout multiple reimagining attempts of your bedroom makes it all worthwhile. You'll save a lot of space -- contrary to comforters, you'll only need one duvet across a variety of colour and pattern schemes!
The Europeans have used duvets for centuries, and while it may still seem a little weird or extravagant in North America, there is no reason not to try it. Hopefully, this article has shined a light on this exceptionally warm type of bedding and encouraged you to try one this winter!