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Ask Jennifer Adams: Do I Have to Make My Bed?

Ask Jennifer Adams: Do I Have to Make My Bed?

Dear Jennifer,

I leave for work before my husband, who never makes the bed. He swears this is healthier as the sheets are able to breathe. I can see his point but I also love coming home to an organized bedroom. Is making your bed every day essential for peace of mind or bad for your health?

~ Sincerely, Confused

Believe it or not, there are two very distinct schools of thought when it comes to making your bed every day. There are those who, like you, believe it’s a necessary touchstone for an orderly life. And there are those, like your husband, who firmly believe it’s unsanitary. There are compelling arguments on both sides and often it comes down to personal preference.

Personally, I think that making the bed is a relatively simple task that signifies the start of a productive morning. It allows you to cross something off your to-do list as soon as you wake up. And that feeling of accomplishment can snowball throughout the day, turning one completed task into many. In fact, according to ‘The Power of Habit’ author, Charles Duhigg, says daily bed-making can become what he calls a ‘keystone habit’, which kickstarts a chain of productivity and leads to good decisions throughout the rest of your day. All that from a job that only takes a few minutes!

For people lucky enough to work from home, making your bed in the morning is the equivalent of telling yourself that you won’t be getting back into it for the rest of the day. (A helpful boundary to set!)

And that’s not the only reason a made bed can add to your sense of wellbeing. It immediately makes your bedroom feel orderly and pulled together (and encourages you to keep the rest of your bedroom clean and tidy). There’s a feeling of peace and calm that one gets upon returning home from a long day to find a bedroom that’s neat and welcoming. These feelings of calmness and happiness can contribute to better mental health. Making your bed can also improve your sleep quality and help linens and pillows to better keep their shape.

However, if you are someone who doesn’t have the energy or desire to tackle the bed before you leave the house in the morning, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma, science agrees with you. In fact, some experts now say you shouldn’t make your bed. This is because the act of bed-making can trap skin cells and moisture beneath the covers, a perfect atmosphere for dust mites to live and breed. These can cause the very asthma and allergies you’re struggling with. Studies show that if the bed is left open and unmade, all of those unsightly suckers will be exposed to fresh air and light. By the time you get home from work the dust mites will have died from dehydration or been carried away in the air circulation.

Of course, for some of us, having a messy bed just isn't a viable option! So, if you’d like to get the best of both worlds, use this technique to allow for proper air circulation while still looking tidy. 

  • Remove the pillows and turn the blankets and top sheets back.
  • Pull the bottom sheet taut and retuck it.
  • Pull the top sheet and blankets up to the top and smooth them. Then fold them back on themselves halfway or two-thirds of the way down the bed.
  • Give pillows a quick smack before returning them to the top of the bed.

You can also mitigate the impact of allergies by washing your sheets frequently. Use a damp rag to remove dust and encase your mattress and pillows in dust-proof or allergen impermeable covers. Good luck! 

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