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Scientists Tell You Why Making Your Bed Is Disgusting — And Bad for Your Health

Scientists Tell You Why Making Your Bed Is Disgusting — And Bad for Your Health

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Kathryn Harper

Media Relations Manager

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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