Growing up, I had to make my bed every morning before school, and I absolutely hated it. As soon as I could get away with it, I stopped (much to the chagrin of my mother). Ever since then, I’ve left the bed unmade unless it was clean sheets day or company was coming over.
But now I have a pretty good excuse to give when I’m questioned about leaving my bed in a mess — and vindication for all the years I’ve been stubbornly avoiding the responsibility.
According to a 2006 study published in the exciting-sounding journal Experimental & Applied Acarology, making your bed (while, admittedly, good for your mental health) makes your bed an extra-comfy home for dust mites.
On average, each bed contains more than a million Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus — the scientific name for dust mites. These tiny critters live in the dark, damp spaces of your mattress and pillows, feeding off of your dead skin cells and pooping (yes, pooping) out an allergen that can trigger asthma-like symptoms.
When you make your bed in the mornings, you’re trapping millions of dust mites in your bed, protecting them from drying out and dying in the bright daylight and giving them a safe place to eat, poop, and breed. These little guys love being tucked in every morning because it keeps them safe from the sun and alive to continue their disgusting little life cycles the next night.
If, like the lazier among us, you skip making your bed in the morning, you’re saving yourself by exposing the dust mites to the regular atmosphere of your house. Moving air and sun are too harsh for these little creatures. They die, making your bed just a little less gross at the end of the day.
If after a while you get tired of sleeping on little dust mite corpses, you can sprinkle your mattress with baking soda and then vacuum it every few months to clean out the dead mites and suck up the living ones who have escaped your wrath.
Of course, if you’ve already made friends with the dust mites in your bed, feel free to keep tucking them in every morning. You can also wait a little while after getting up to make the bed instead of doing it right away. Any time you can expose them to the air can help dehydrate them and cause them to start dying. You should also ramp up how often you wash your sheets — but that’s a good idea whether you have a million dust mites or not.
This information flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught. My whole life I’ve had people telling me that making my bed only had good things to offer me: It starts my day off right, it can lower my stress, and it apparently sets me up to be happier and more successful than I would be if I gave in to my slothful impulses.
Even if we think the news about dust mites is disgusting, it doesn’t cancel out the fact that there are some proven psychological benefits to making your bed every morning. I guess we just have to decide what is more important to us — having a dust mite free bed or giving ourselves a mental leg up before we head off to work or school.
So what do you think? Is making your bed every morning important enough for you to ignore the dust mites in your mattress that are munching on your dead skin cells every day? Or would you prefer to live with a messy-looking, potentially dust mite free place to rest every night?
Featured photo credit: Abbey Hendrickson via flic.kr