I'm a lover of a spirited debate, but I also get squeamish thinking about germs, so the internet's current battle over bedding has me ready to log off Twitter forever. Last week, @JesseLynnHarte tweeted, "People say millennials 'killed' chain restaurants, marriage, & napkins... But WHEN will they acknowledge our greatest take-down yet?? TOP SHEETS. I don’t know a single millennial who uses one. Top sheets are archaic. This is just the truth." The tweet quickly went viral, and it left some people asking whether it's bad to sleep without sheets. The answer, my friend, is a resounding "yes." Here's something to think about: If you aren't sleeping with a top sheet, you're cozying up underneath a comforter every night, and according to Good Housekeeping, comforters are only washed two or three times a year. I'm feeling itchy just thinking about it.
One study found that people wait more than three weeks, on average, to change their sheets. But comforters and duvets feel like a different ballgame. Washing and drying my comforter is a herculean task that I prefer not to think about. If you aren't sleeping with a top sheet, are you washing your duvet or comforter every week? Probably not. As Dr. Dena Nader told Bustle last year, sheets should be washed at least four times a month to minimize bacteria. "The reality is, though, that in order to prevent bacteria growth that could cause certain illnesses, bedding and pillowcases should be washed every week at a minimum," Nader says. Everything is fine.
And we all know that it's much easier to wash sheets than it is to wash a comforter. My king-sized comforter is supposed to be washed in an industrial, front-loading machine — I have to go to a laundromat to get the thing clean, and it takes two hours out of my day. I'm definitely not washing my comforter as often as I should, but I also sleep with a top sheet and a blanket. I didn't realize I was a bedding purist until this debate took over the Internet. Statistically, a good portion of the people I know don't use a top sheet, and that makes me sad.
Fun fact: When you're sleeping, you shed a ton of skin. According to the American Chemical Society, we shed our entire outer layer of skin every two to four weeks, which is about 500 million cells every day. There is dead skin everywhere, folks, and if you aren't washing your comforter, you're just hanging out in it whenever you're in bed. Growing up, comforters were for decoration, not function — my parents still don't use their comforter at all when they sleep. I'm not that extreme, but I do have some limits. The National Sleep Foundation says our sheets are home to oil, sweat, makeup and they can even lead to fungus if they aren't laundered properly, which is why you should wash your sheets every week. But how would someone even go about washing a comforter or duvet cover weekly, even if they wanted to? They aren't always cheap, and no one wants a faded comforter, so it makes sense to avoid washing it unless you absolutely need to. I won't even get into the aerobics required to fit a duvet back into its cover. You could always take things a step further and sleep on top of your comforter if you want to avoid the argument altogether.
I'm adding top sheet usage to the list of obscure things that I'm passionate about. Sleeping with just a comforter means your bed is probably more germy than it needs to be, unless you have disciplined laundry habits. Use your top sheet, people!