Are silk sheets a luxury that only the affluent can afford to purchase, or can a person with an average income dream of blissful nights spent sleeping in their bed on their own silk sheets?

And if a person does purchase silk sheets, will those nights really be blissful or will they be filled with nightmares because purchasing a set made their pocketbook cry for mercy.

While it is true that silk sheets cost many times more than a set of low thread count cotton blend sheets purchased at the local discount store, a set of properly cared for silk sheets can outlast several sets of cheap sheets. This makes the cost of silk sheets less prohibitive over time.

But what is the big deal with silk sheets? Are they that much more comfortable than the $20 sheets purchased from the discount store down the street? Or do people just like being able to say they own silk sheets?

Until recently I would never have considered purchasing a set of silk sheets because of the cost. But then I had the pleasure of spending a few nights at a relative's house. The bed in the room we slept in had silk sheets on it. They were so soft and luxurious. It wasn't like sleeping on my cheap sheets that have been around for a while and have lost their softness but have gained lots of little bumpy pill marks that aren't so comfortable. But now I'm a convert. I don't want to sleep on anything but silk sheets again if I can help it.

What does silk come from and how is it made? Silk comes from silkworms but don't get grossed out just yet. It is a natural protein spun by silkworms, not something that is made from the worms themselves.

Growing silkworms and harvesting their cocoons is a demanding and tricky process. It takes approximately 3,000 silkworms to produce 1 pound of raw silk which explains why silk is an expensive fabric.

The Chinese perfected the art of growing silkworms and producing luxurious silk. The eggs of silkworms are kept at 65 degrees Fahrenheit and gradually increased to 77 degrees at which time the worms hatch. Then they are fattened up on a diet of chopped mulberry leaves. The worms are fed every half hour around the clock. Within a month, the silkworms have multiplied their weight by 10,000 times. Pretty amazing isn't it?

About this time the silkworms have stored up enough energy to go into their cocoon stage. It takes a silkworm three or four days to finish spinning their fluffy white cocoon. After several days in a warm place the cocoons are placed in warm water to soften the filament thread and which is then unwound and spooled.

The two main types of silk are cultivated silk and wild silk. Cultivated silk is finer; smoother; rounder; more uniform in size and shape and color, and has longer thread filaments than wild silk. It is also the most expensive. Silk sheets made from cultivated silk will cost you’re the most money but will also be the most durable. Cultivated silk is referred to as mulberry silk.

Tussah silk is a wild silk. It's shape and color are less uniform that mulberry silk because the worms aren't fed an exclusive diet of mulberry leaves. Instead they have to fend for themselves and eat what they can find such as oak leaves. The tannin in the leaves affects the color of the filament thread the silkworm weaves which means the thread will range in color from a light off white to a dark tan. It has a rougher texture than cultivated silk but is still beautiful. It typically has little to no luster to it.

The biggest thing to consider when deciding on what type of silk you want in the sheets you are going to purchase is durability. Mulberry silk is woven from long continuous filaments. Tussah silk is a spun silk which means the filaments are not continuous. It makes Tussah silk less durable.

Silk sheets are comfortable both in the summer and in the winter. In the summer they wick away the moisture from your body and in the winter they gently form to your body eliminating air pockets and holding in your body heat which keeps you warm.

Plus the essential amino acids found in silk is said to delay wrinkling of the skin, be good for your hair, and help calm you to help you get a restful night's sleep. Who knew that silk sheets could do so much for a person?

When looking at silk sheets pay attention to both the momme weight of the sheets and the thread count. The momme weight is a measurement of the weight of silk. A very low momme count means the sheets won't be durable they are too thin. A momme weight of 12-19 is perfect for sheets. That combined with a thread count of at least 400 and buying silk that is cultivated ensures you of getting high quality sheets that will last you a long time.

Once you have a set of silk sheets you probably will not to want to ever sleep on anything else. Most people say that. There is nothing quite like the sheer comfort of being caressed by silk sheets as you gently drift off to sleep for the night, which is a very big deal indeed.