Looking past the thread count...
Finding the right sheets and the right thread count for you can be hard. There are so many options to choose from. And quite often, you find yourself buying something in the store, and after a few washings, the sheets don't feel as soft as they did inside the package. Knowing what to look for and what to avoid is a good place to start.
Higher thread count does not equal better
A thread count is the count of threads per square inch. A realistical thread count is between the 160-400 range. It's just not physically possible to get more than that in a square inch. To get a higher number, manufacturers use thinner strands bound together. So the quoted thread count is higher, but the number of threads does not actually increase. So a 600 thread count sheet, is basically a 300 thread count sheet, but with 2 ply threads instead of 1. The higher the thread count, the more strands that are bound together. This equals a poor quality sheet that will shred apart after a few washes. Sheets with a thread count of 250 or 300 will outperform those of 500, 600, or even 1000 in a service application. They will be as soft (or softer), and will survive the washing machine for many more years. If you see fuzz or small pills on the sheet after a wash, this is the sign of a poor quality sheet.
Top quality sheets focus on the fabric and the weave, not on the thread count. The quality sheets will mention their cotton type: Egyptian, Pima, Supima, etc. They will mention a weave type like percale or sateen. Sateen is usually more expensive because it is made with a more elaborate weave which results in a bigger surface area, with a softer feel, along with a bit of sheen. Percale is cheaper, but it is crisper and cooler to the touch, and also more durable. If you want an everyday sheet that will last for years in the washer, go with a 250-300 thread count sheet. And don't be afraid of a cotton/poly blend. 100% cotton doesn't equal a better sheet. A cotton blend gives the fabric a smoother hand feel, longer performance, and less wrinkles. And remember, the higher the thread count, the more body heat that gets trapped inside the sheet. Lastly, look at the brands that Hotels use. Hotels use sheeting and bedding that can survive daily washing, and yet still feel like new to their guests. Standard Textile is a very popular brand for hotel bedding, as are Downlite, and Restful Nights.