Debate: Is it healthier to leave your bed unmade?

It’s a daily habit for most of us, but if you think making your bed is a waste of time, science may actually be in your corner! Our bodies are constantly shedding and falling apart – we are mortal beings after all – and the place with a concentration of our human debris is the mattress. Our dead skin and sweat is a delicious buffet for more than a million 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.

So what does making your bed have to do with this mitey environment? Well, according to Dr Kelly Powers, a Connecticut-based podiatric surgeon, the mites thrive in moisture and darkness – basically a well-made bed. An unmade bed can air the mattress and fabric out and give it a chance to dry, killing the mites.

But there is the argument that making your bed has a positive psychological impact; it gives you a feeling of accomplishment, it creates a positive state of mind and it is said to lower stress. According to the book by Charles Duhig, The Power of Habit, making your bed creates a productive foundation on which to build your day. Making your bed is the initial wave that ripples into other good habits and productive outcomes.

What’s more, Psychology Today reveals that in a survey that 71% of bed makers consider themselves happy, while 62% of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy. Although there is not a strict correlation, it is found that bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent flats, avoid the gym, and wake up tired. All in all, bed makers are happier and more successful than their crumple-bedded halves.

Creating nighttime rituals is also something that can help you sleep, believes cleaning expert Jolie Kerr. It will not cure insomnia, but it can help. ‘Turning down the bed in the evening can be a component of nighttime rituals that, taken collectively, can signal that it’s time to go to sleep,’ she says. We all love getting into a well-made bed, it’s why we like going to hotels where its constantly crisp and clean. Bearing that in mind, making the bed can also help you mentally distinguish the place for relaxation and peace. To back this up even further, a poll from the National Sleep Foundation found that people who reported making their beds also reported better sleep overall.

The verdict

So either you make your bed, feel calm and collected, but sleep with unwanted creatures and risk getting allergic reactions – or you don’t make your bed to air-kill the mite infestation, but feel unproductive and chaotic. There is a happy medium. Kerr says it is absolutely correct that sheets should be allowed to air/dry out after you’ve slept on them, but unless you’ve had a really bad case of the night sweats, your sheets will have plenty of time to air out while you perform your morning routine. On top of that, cleaning your linen regularly and using baking soda or a vacuum once a week will destroy the unwanted critters. Then you can make your bed, and feel successful and happy!

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