Is Getting Better Sleep as Simple as Making Your Bed?

Is Getting Better Sleep as Simple as Making Your Bed?

You’re in the majority if you can remember ever getting in trouble for forgetting (or simply not bothering) to make your bed as a kid. And it’s likely that no matter how many times your parents had to remind you, it seldom actually ended up getting done. Even now that you’re older, odds are that you probably aren’t making your bed every single day, although we all grow up believing that it’s just what you do and that it’s better because it looks nice. But there are things to be done! You’ve got errands to run, housework to do, a job to keep up with, and countless other chores that simply rank higher on the to-do list than straightening your comforter and pillows. When you’ve got a long queue of things to get done, the way your bed looks seems to fade into the background - after all, it’s just going to get unmade when you go to bed tonight, right? Many people though, do manage to find the time and motivation to keep their bed in order, and can’t move on to any later parts of their daily routine until their bed is neat and pleasing to the eye. But just when you’ve begun getting yourself into the habit of religiously tidying your bed sheets every morning instead of continuing in your regular routine of leaving them in disarray, the facts start pointing in the other direction. So is it really that important to keep struggling with those fitted sheets for the sake of making your bed look pretty? Whether you hit the road at a record pace or take the day slow and easy, the question of if you should make your bed or leave it is a complex one – more so than you might think. It involves dust mites, sheets, and the good and bad habits we all have.

Keep it Together

The world is divided into two types of people – those who enjoy black coffee, and those who prefer it sweeter. The morning people and the night owls. The snooze-users and the first-alarm-risers. And lastly, the bed-makers and the bed-leavers. An informal poll of people from seven different countries, including the US and the UK, showed that more than 60% of people at least make an effort at making their bed every day. And the National Sleep Foundation is confident that you're going to get higher quality shut-eye if your bedroom is neat and tidy. Of course, that means not just making the bed but also vacuuming, dusting and keeping your sheets fresh and clean to cash in on the promised better sleep. The NSF isn’t alone, and here are a couple reasons why:

It starts your day off on the right foot

Being productive and organized in the morning is something that we all aspire to, right? Those who make their bed in the morning tend to give themselves a more proactive attitude which extends past the bedroom and into their daily lives. A lot of people don’t make their bed due to a sense of duty, but simply because they like to come home to a clean house. It’s a lot like walking into the kitchen to be greeted by a sink full of dirty dishes. Most people just feel better knowing that their bed is looking put-together.

Making the bed can help you sleep better

The National Sleep Foundation included the responses from 1,500 American people between the ages of 25 and 55 in a recent survey about the quality of sleep amongst US adults and they saw that 42% of the people being studied identified themselves as “great sleepers," but of the group, the bed-makers were over 19% more likely to get a healthy amount of good, uninterrupted sleep. Although the study by the NSF showed that most people who leave the house after making their bed and get to come home to a tidy room tend to sleep better, it’s hard to say whether the reason for the sweet dreams is truly due to neatly tucked sheets or just a sense of accomplishment. Either way, it sure seems to be worth giving it a try!

It "Mite" be a Bad Idea to Make Your Bed

Many people have grown up being forced to make their bed every day before school, and have made a habit of doing it every morning in the years since then. Others either never had to, or simply don't have enough time or energy to tidy their sheets in the morning. Others have plenty of time but plain old lack the desire to make their bed. Well there’s good news for anyone forcing themselves to make their bed every morning for the sake of cleanliness. But it turns out that there might actually be a good reason to not make your bed in the mornings... Jeff Bredenberg, the author of How to Cheat at Cleaning, says that over 60% of people don’t make their bed, whatever the reason, and if the idea of tiny little dust mites colonizing where you sleep makes your skin crawl, then those non-bed-makers are definitely on to something! According to Bredenberg, tucking your sheets tight and straight is an absolute breeding haven for dust mites. He goes on to say that the average bed can be home to up to 1.5 million of the terrifyingly small creepy crawlers (you’re not alone if you’re getting itchy just reading this). Dust mites can actually produce allergens during the day inside your nicely-made bed, which you then breathe in while you sleep. The allergens are big causes of asthma and other illnesses. If you still want the satisfaction of making your bed, the best solution, Jeff suggests, is to pull down and fold the comforter and top sheet (it’s easier with just a comforter, but if your top sheet brings you joy, carry on), and flatten the bottom sheet. He also suggests buying a waterproof bed cover to prevent sweat from transferring through your sheets and onto your bed. This process is overall easier than making your bed they way you normally would, and makes the little mites a thing of the past. His book also reminds the reader to wash their bed sheets every two weeks, and pet parents may want to refresh their bedding even more often than that. You should also wait a bit after getting out of bed to make it. The longer that the sheets are exposed to air, the less of a chance there is that you’ll share a bed with the dust mites when you come home at night. If after a bit, you get tired of sleeping on teeny tiny mite corpses, you can sprinkle your mattress with baking soda every few months and vacuum it to suck up the dead mites and the living ones that have somehow escaped your wrath.

Taking the Middle Ground

So what now? If you make your bed like you’re used to doing, you’re breeding creepy crawlers. If you leave it unmade, you feel like a piece of you is missing (unless you never made it in the first place). There are a few middle roads to take. While not the perfect solution to each issue, they’re better than nothing. Firstly, you could take Jeff Bredenberg’s advice, and fold your top sheet and comforter down to the bottom of the bed. That way, you’re airing out your bed and it still looks neat. Another option would be to let neatness and lack-of-mites have joint custody. Make your bed on weekdays, and be lazy and leave it unmade on the weekends.

A Final Word From the Experts

If there’s just no way that you could go a single day neglecting to neatly pull up your sheets, you could always just shake them out every morning. Humans are shedding skin flakes 24/7, and those are what dust mites primarily live off of. So if you can shake out your comforter and sheets every morning before making your bed, that would be doing a great help to yourself. Another way to get the best of both worlds is to be sure that your bed is easily accessed from three sides, which means no pushing it into a corner. If it’s difficult for you to make your way around your bed properly, your habit will likely not persist. Finally, if you do give in and decide not to make your bed for the sake of being the only living thing in your bed (aside from beloved pets, which many of us invite into bed with open arms), a good way to make the messiness less of an eyesore is to set up your bedroom so that the foot of your bed is against the same wall as the door. That way, the first thing seen upon entering your room is the opposite wall, and your unmade (dust mite-free) bed is out of sight.
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