Since mattresses in truck sleepers come in non-standard sizes (length and width), procuring the right bedding to fit them can be challenging.
We will discuss options available to you and of course provide money saving tips.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has Rules and Regulations regarding sleeper berths.
Please read the equipment section to see how much latitude both truck manufacturers and you have for being "properly equipped for sleeping."
When it comes to sleeping in a truck, most drivers choose either:
If you decide on the former, your choices are to use:
In researching this issue, we found these standard mattress sizes for adult beds.(1)(2)
We also did a lot of research on truck mattress sizes and found a lot of variation. Contrast the numbers in the table above with the numbers in the table below.
We once used a truck bed sheet. Here are cutaway illustrations of the type we had.
The first shows a side view of a flat sheet sewn to the fitted one at the foot where the top of the mattress meets.
Just as one would find with a standard set, the flat on the set we had was wider than the fitted.
The flat was centered over the fitted and only that portion in the middle that ran along the top edge of the fitted was sewn down.
The two "extensions" (one on either side) were not sewn down.
To look neat when not in use, the flat should be tucked in on both sides of the mattress.
If you get custom bed sheets for a specific truck manufacturer's sleeper mattress, you probably don't have to worry about this next step, but it may be important to know.
Mattresses manufactured today come in various thicknesses.
Imagine the problems of bed sheets that are too shallow or too deep for a specific mattress.
It's kind of like wearing a glove that's too big or too small.
So, you will need to measure a mattress's length, width and thickness in order to get the right fit.
Please also take into account the additional height of any foam pad (or mattress topper) you may choose to use on your mattress.
One aspect of construction that makes a difference in the comfort of your bed sheets is thread count.
One reference states, "The simplest definition of thread count is the number of threads, both horizontally and vertically, within one square inch of the fabric."(3)
Dictionary.com defines thread count as "a measure of the fineness of fabric as the total number of vertical and horizontal threads in one square inch."(4)
You may find bed sheets with thread counts ranging wildly.
The more threads per square inch, the more expensive they can be, but the more durable they may also be.
We have attempted to show the physical difference that thread count makes in this illustration.
We're sure that you've noticed that different types of fabrics feel differently. For example, satin feels different from flannel.
When you're buying bed sheets, be aware of what fibers are used.
If you have a tendency to sweat in your sleep, you may need a higher cotton content to help wick away the moisture.
Also, your truck is your work area. If you use your bunk mattress for a seat, your truck sheets might get more "use" than would the ones you use at home.
Just because you might use a particular kind of fabric at home does not mean it is well suited for your truck.
Take into account what kinds of substances the sheets might be exposed to and what kind of wear they would be likely to face before you invest.
Would you feel badly if you took expensive sheets out on the road and ruined them with road dirt or worse?
A driver may seldom think about the state of the mattress in his or her truck.
Every mattress contains particulate matter from its users, including dead skin cells and hair.
Yours may have stains or smell musty.
In any case, you may want to try to sanitize or deodorize it the best you can. Or you can use a mattress cover.
Unfortunately, the fabric that covers some truck mattresses has a tendency to pill.
FabricLink.com states, "Pilling of a fabric occurs when groups of short or broken fibers on the surface of the fabric become tangled together in a tiny ball called a pill. Pilling results from rubbing (abrasion) of the fabric during normal wear and use."(5)
See the surface of the mattress in one of the trucks that Mike drove for his trucking company in the two photos below, both taken with the sleeper light on.
The view in both is about the same; however, the flash is on in the first and off in the second.
Can you see how the pills show up when the light comes from an angle?
If your mattress is like this; if you have sensitive skin; and if you want to use bed sheets; you will have to address this situation.
You can either cut off the pills with scissors (a time-intensive job) or use a fabric shaver (like the one shown here) to shave them off.
You deserve and need to be comfortable when you sleep.
Perhaps you've observed that a standard set of bed sheets will not fit a truck sleeper mattress and you are repulsed by the cost of custom truck bed sheets.
You still have options.
Customizing your own set might be worthwhile if you can find discount bed sheets at a good price.
If you try making a custom sheet, be aware of where you sew the flat sheet to the fitted sheet.
Where the flat is sewn to the fitted matters.
See this illustration below and contrast it to the one further up on this page.
If you sew the flat to the very bottom edge of the fitted, you'll "lose" that much sheet to pull up over yourself.
Complicating your choice of using bed sheets is taking out enough blankets to stay warm in the winter.
The drawback of using a sleeping bag in the summer is finding one that is "light enough" not to make you sweat in your sleep.
Blankets vary in many ways including fibers and weight.
You may want to have layers of lighter blankets so that you can stay comfortable.
Another option is to use a reflective pad that will radiate your body heat back to you.
Or you can use an electric blanket that can be run off inverter power.
However, you need to be careful not to buy an electric blanket bigger than will reasonably fit the bunk, and remember to turn it off when you're out of the bunk.
While bed sheets don't normally take up a lot of room in truck sleepers, blankets can.
So keep that in mind, especially if you have a "coffin sleeper."
One of your ongoing costs with the use of bed sheets is laundering them and the blankets.
Contrast this to the cost of washing and drying a sleeping bag.
By virtue of its larger size, a sleeping bag requires using a commercial-sized washing machine and dryer.
On the other hand, you will probably be washing your bed sheets a good bit more often than a sleeping bag.
Feel free to use the embedded calculator below to determine your total costs (upfront cost plus cleaning costs over the life of your bedding).
Because of the custom size of truck sleepers and mattresses, using a sleeping bag can be much easier than using sheets and blankets for sleeping.
We have used both bed sheets and sleeping bags in our truck sleepers.
Of the two, we personally prefer using sleeping bags.
For one thing, it appears that the overall costs are lower.
However, we discuss this in greater depth on our sleeping bags page.
Money saving tip: Besides the tips already listed above (buying discount bedding and making your own), you may also choose to buy a used set of truck bed sheets or find sets on sale online or at truck stops.
Feel free to use the calculator above to project which will be less expensive over the long term.
Additionally, some sleeper berth mattresses are not all that comfortable, even in newer trucks.
You may want to have some kind of mattress pad or mattress topper between the mattress and the sheet.
This may help you get a better night's sleep, allowing you to awake more refreshed, able to think more clearly and avoid an accident.
These devices come in a variety of thicknesses and widths.
When we were looking for a mattress topper for both of us, we found it cheaper at the time to buy a king-sized topper and cut it up the middle, giving us (in effect) two twin mattress-sized toppers.
Also, in case you're concerned about the cleanliness of the mattress in your truck (especially if it has had multiple previous drivers), you may wish to invest in a mattress cover.
You can find in some stores (and even online) mattress encasements that are designed to protect you from dust mites, allergens and even bed bugs.
However, as in dealing with unusual sizes of sheets, you may have trouble finding mattress encasements to fit sleeper berth mattresses.
For all of your bed linen needs, shop around for the best buy.
Some items are popular during back-to-school sales; you may wish to investigate whether or not they can be purchased tax-free in your state if it has a "sales tax holiday" around the time that students prepare to go back to school.
(You don't have to be a student to take advantage of these types of sales.)
Our home state of South Carolina has such a holiday.
Also, an article on USNews.com stated that the best time to buy bed linens is January.