The Scientific Case For Not Making Your Bed

by Megan Grant
asbe/E+/Getty Images

I've long been a member of the school of thought which says that making your bed helps you be more productive. I'm also a complete germaphobe. Knowing these two things, then, you can imagine my despair at learning of this very real, very scientific reason to not make your bed: Dust mites. Millions of dust mites. In case you need a refresher, dust mites are tiny bugs that live in dust. They like to set up shop in pillows, mattresses, and bedding, among other things in your house. When left unaddressed, they can cause health problems like allergies and asthma-like side effects. What exactly does this have to do with making your bed? Read on and be grossed out.

It turns out dust mites love a well-made bed. Why? Because they survive best in warm, dark, and humid places — as in, the neatly folded and tucked in sheets of your just-made bed. Dry environments with plenty of light? To that, dust mites say, "No thank you." By making your bed, you not only create the coziest of environments for them, but you trap them in it. Think of it as someone forcing you to go on an amazing vacation. It's basically a party in your bed that you're not invited to.

The dust mites will breed (ew) and leave behind excretions (ew ew); and once you return to your cozy (NOT!) bed, they'll feed on your skin cells and do other disgusting things. I repeat: There are bugs living, eating, pooping, giving birth, and dying where you sleep.

All because you made your bed.

By not making your bed, the dust mites are exposed to sun and air and the not-so-warm temperatures, and they'll dry out and die. This is just one reason why it's crucial to wash your sheets on a regular basis. The heat from the dryer in particular will help kill off any dust mites that somehow survived the wash cycle. Regularly washed sheets are also vital in eliminating (or at least limiting) the oils, sweat, and bodily fluids in your sheets, plus some of the million skin cells you shed daily — which dust mites love to nibble on. If you absolutely insist on making the bed, at least wait a little while before you do so. Any chance you get to expose dust mites to moving air and light will help kill some of them off. And since science has found that there are over a million dust mites in our beds, we need all the help we can get.

It's not like you need another reason not to make your bed, unless you have some kind of strange affinity for dust mites. But in further defense of keeping your bed messy, the belief that making your bed makes you more productive (which was what initially won me over) isn't exactly a done deal.

As a matter of fact, some research has found that more successful people don't make their bed (and not because they just don't feel like it), compared to those who do. Another study from the University of Minnesota found that a person's refusal to keep their home clean and tidy could be a sign that their mind is simply busy working on other things. Connections have also been made between messy environments and better creativity. It's important to note that correlation does not equal causation, meaning no one has "proven" that one of these factors causes the other; and much of it could very well be left to a person's own individual characteristics. For example, I work in a creative field and I can't stand a messy house. If my desk is cluttered, it drives me bonkers. But I can totally see how some creatives might better thrive in an environment that isn't so structured.

The dust mites, however, are another story that takes no more convincing. Let your bed air out, people. And wash your sheets. Seriously.

Images: asbe/E+/Getty Images; Giphy (2)