In the past year, I've learned that life is too short to sleep in a bed that doesn't feel like a cloud. I stopped skimping on sheets. My pillows went from micro-fiber to feather. I even bought a memory foam mattress topper. And after a week of brutally cold weather, I have no regrets about those purchases.

My renewed appreciation for bedding began during last year's white sale. In case you're unfamiliar, a white sale is a sale on linens, bedding and towels that most home goods stores have every January. It's a pretty old tradition, dating back to the late 19th century when department stores would discount their inventory of sheets, which back then only came in white.

When I learned about this tradition last year, I decided to get a nice pair of sheets. And then I went back for nice pillows, and so on. My point is: If you've never made your bed a priority, January is the time to do it. And while you're at it, you might as well pick up some nice towels for a good deal, too.

Here are my top picks for this year's white sale.

Sheets

Target never really disappoints me in the bedding department, which is why I'm a big fan of their white sale this year. I'd highly recommend picking up their wrinkle-free sheets on sale for $25. I have two sets at home and would pay twice as much for such comfortable, low-maintenance linens. That's the sale price advertised in Target's circular from Sunday, so it expires tomorrow. But they have a $10 off coupon for any bedding and bath purchase of at least $50 that doesn't expire until February.

Mattress topper

I've learned the hard way that if you want a good mattress topper, there's no cheap way around it.

The microfiber stuff feels like a good imitation at first, but from my experience, the material ultimately clumps together and becomes uncomfortable.

Instead, look for a high-quality version on sale. Eddie Bauer's 550 fill goose down topper is a good example, and they're $40-$50 off right now, depending on which size you order.

Towels

Belk's linens sale features sheets, pillows and towels for up to 50 percent off. I have a soft spot for big, fluffy towels and this department store has plenty of them for great prices. The Home Accents Infinite Loft Towels, for example, are priced $5-$8 each, nearly half off the regular prices. Designer towels from Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren also are about half off right now, and those don't typically go on sale very often.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.