So here in Europe (where I live. Sometimes I like to sprinkle that phrase into my random thoughts… it sure is a beautiful day here IN EUROPE, WHERE I LIVE. God, where the hell is the #17 tram… HERE IN EUROPE, WHERE I LIVE. Don’t judge me) there is a very distinct lifestyle difference that I was not prepared for, before I came and lived as a guest in a friend’s house where she had a bed she made for me when I showed up.

They don’t use flat sheets here.

Your mattress is covered by a mattress pad, just like home in the US, and then covered by a fitted sheet, just like home in the US. You sleep on top of that one. And then, there’s a duvet (comforter), in a duvet cover. Except…


For the benefit of those reading from Europe, in the US we have two sheets. There’s the fitted sheet over the mattress, but then there’s another sheet, called the flat sheet (or top sheet, but usually flat sheet, because it’s “flat” and hasn’t got elasticised corners like the fitted sheet), that goes over you. Depending on the weather, there may be a blanket or two (or six, if you live in Minnesota) over the flat sheet, but before the duvet (or comforter). In some places there is no duvet at all, but just blankets and then a quilt or bedspread. But there is always a flat sheet. The sheets get laundered, the blankets and duvet (or quilt…especially not quilts, especially-especially if they’re real hand-sewn quilts) get shaken out once or twice a year but don’t get dumped in the washer, like, ever. Because you don’t have to wash them if you have sheets!

But there’s no flat sheet here in Europe. It’s just you and your duvet cover. Need a thick blanket? Great! Don’t need a thick blanket? Uhhhh…. well, shit. The duvet cover gets laundered, which is great, except for the part where (a) MY FEET ARE COLD and (b) have you ever noticed what a total pain in the ass it is to stuff duvets into duvet covers? Because it is, and I have.

Now, I’ve had a nasty headcold, verging on flu, for the past few days. (Don’t talk to me about Sudafed. It’s banned here. If you talk to me about how awesome multi-symptom cold-and-flu decongestant tablets are right now, I will fly over and cut you. And then I will go to CVS, get out my ID and buy the most Sudafed I am allowed to buy, and fly my ass back home to Holland and rest assured I will not have to be a total mouthbreather next time I catch a cold.) It’s meant some fairly unpleasant hacking coughs, the kind of constantly running nose that results in Kleenex Nose — you know what I mean, when you’re blowing your nose so damn often your nose-skin gets chafed and painful and you dread every single time you have to reach for the kleenex because you know it’s going to hurt, but you can’t put moisturizer on your nose because the skin is already so sore you know no matter how For Sensitive Skin your moisturizer is, it’s going to sting like you’ve just dunked your face in a vat of acid — and a bit of feverish hot sweaty attempting-to-sleep nights where you can’t stand having the covers either on or off. Without the flat sheet, there is no middle ground. And I’m here to tell you, I MISS MY FLAT SHEET. Because I usually sleep nude, unless it’s super cold out, and there has just *got* to be a middle ground between “holy mother of god, it’s broiling under these covers” and sticking-your-leg-out “JESUS IT’S THE ARCTIC CIRCLE OUT THERE.” In the summer, that was one thing. Duvet cover alone was fine then, it was 35°C and no one cared. Today? Last night? I feel like I need to sleep wearing some tights just so I can stick my foot out when I get too hot, and not get the shivering shakes as a result. I mean I literally tried to sleep one day in some loose cotton capri pants (that was a quick fail. Nobody sleeps in button-up capris, for a reason). Guys. The flat sheet is a miracle of engineering that lets you keep a tiny bit of insulating air around your poor overheated leg, so it can cool down slowly, and gently, in a controlled fashion, without freezing your extremities off. It’s a tiny gesture of civilization in an uncivilized world.

Look, Europe. I don’t ask you to take much as an example from America. Not our wacko two-party politics, and certainly not our tipping-the-waitstaff confusion. But the flat sheet. Seriously. It’s a thing of beauty. It will transform your life. Just do it.