From using the bed as a 24/7 hangout spot, to dropping crumbs between the sheets, to sitting on the edge of the mattress whilst grooming yourself — think toenail clippings flying every which way — it's definitely possible to turn your bedroom into a health hazard. And
especially so when you're sharing a bed with your partner.
When there's two of you, that's twice the crumbs and twice the toenail clippings. So it may be a good idea, for both your sakes, to avoid making these gross mistakes whenever possible. And while you're at it, it might not hurt to come up with a few
guidelines for sharing a bed, so you can enjoy it in all its glory.
"Lay down some mutually accepted ground rules for things like eating in bed, watching TV/phones/tablets, etc., to get the most out of co-sleeping," therapist Ginger Houghton, LMSW, CAADC, and owner of
Bright Spot Counseling, tells Bustle.
Sharing a bed
can be a beautiful thing, but it can also have its downsides, if you're not careful. By creating a few rules, you and your partner can avoid grossing each other out — or even making each other sick. Here are a few mistakes experts say couples tend to make when sharing a bed, so you'll know just what to avoid.
If you live in a super tiny apartment, then your bed will likely become a focal point in your lives — possibly serving as a bed, as well as a couch, table, and beyond.
But if you can help it, try not to do
too much on your mattress, as it can end up messing with your sleep schedule.
"The more wakeful activities we do in our beds, the better chance we have of training our brains that our bed is not for sleeping," Houghton says. "This can spiral for some people into either
poor sleep or insomnia."
In the best case scenario, you should stay off the bed until you're ready for sleep. "Couples should treat their bed like a shrine," Houghton says.
"Keep it clean, well-cared for, and focused just on sleep and sex.
Sharing Blankets & Pillows
If you're in the habit of sharing pillows and blankets with your partner, it might be a good idea to get your own — and keep them on your
separate sides of the bed.
Here's why: "We breathe in and out all night and when we exhale, we actually exhale moisture into our pillows and blankets," Leslie Fischer, founder of
Sustainable Slumber, tells Bustle. "The moisture we exhale is a breeding ground for bacteria." And when you're swapping pillows back and forth, that's just doubling the fun.
Many couples find it beneficial to have their own blankets, as well as their own pillows. It's an easy way to keep your germs to yourself. But it's also
way more comfortable.
Going To Bed With Makeup On
If you two are in the habit of falling asleep with your makeup on, or climbing into bed with oily skin, it may be time to create a pre-bed face washing rule.
"The oils and sweat on our face end up in our bedding," Fischer says. "Many people would really prefer to have their own personal pillow and sheet because of this." But quickly scrubbing up before bed can help, too.
Letting Your Dog Sleep In The Bed
There's no denying it — pets track all sorts of dirt, hair, and sometimes even fleas or
ticks into the bed, which is not only gross, but can also lead to allergy symptoms.
Pets can also keep you up at night by moving around or taking up too much space, so this is something you'll want to chat about with your partner.
As Hougthon says, "If one partner is not getting enough sleep, it’s important to think about a compromise, such as training the pet to sleep next to one partner or in their own pet bed." And also remember to wash your sheets more often, to lessen your chances of the aforementioned allergy symptoms.
Sleeping On The Wrong Mattress
Once you start sharing a bed, it'll be important to take each other's comfort and health into consideration. And yes, that may even mean
buying a new mattress.
"Side sleepers need a soft mattress and back or stomach sleepers need a firm surface," Fischer says. "Many people are compatible in this regard but if they are not, they should not meet in the middle and get a medium firmness mattress. You can get a split king and get the firmness on each side that works for you."
That way, one of you won't be tossing and turning — or waking up with back pain — while the other sleeps peacefully.
Keeping The Bedroom Too Hot (Or Too Cold)
"For couples who struggle with one partner who is always freezing and one who is always overheating, moderation really is the best policy for sleep," Houghton says. "It’s a terrible feeling to wake up drenched in sweat or freezing, so aim for a
room that is between 60 to 68 degrees." This will not only prevent arguments at 2 a.m., but a cool room makes for better sleep. "This is a question of personal preference," Fischer says. "Are you OK with crumbs in bed?" If so, then have at it.
But do be aware that it's so easy to drop food and spill drinks. And before you know it, your bed is a breeding ground for bacteria.
Never Changing The Sheets
It can be
so easy, once you're comfortable in your relationship, to let hygiene fall by the wayside. But it's important to not only regularly change your sheets, but to also protect your mattress from the various goings on of life.
This might mean
getting a mattress cover, which will ensure bodily fluids — such as sweat — don't make their way into your bed.
As Fischer says, "A mattress is very difficult to clean because the foam and fabric layers are not meant to be taken apart and laundered or aired out. Thus, any moisture or oils from your body can easily collect in your mattress and are a breeding ground for unwanted guests." Like
bacteria and dust mites.
Surrounding Yourselves With Clutter
Take a look around your bedroom, and maybe even in the bed itself. Are there empty plates and glasses everywhere? Clothes lying everywhere? Dusty piles of books?
"While cleanliness is not essential for sleep, it’s certainly a good investment of time to make your bedroom the most comfortable and relaxing place it can be," Houghton says. And a
cluttered environment certainly doesn't help.
It doesn't have to be spotless, but you should get in the habit of straightening it up together, so it can feel like a sanctuary. As Houghton says, "You don’t need to spend thousands on expensive sheets but the basics are always helpful for couples including [...] reducing clutter and mess."
By avoiding these messy mistakes, not only will your bedroom be a healthier place to be, but it'll set the stage
for better sleep — for both you and your partner.