We spend around a third of our lives sleeping and by extension in a bed. Have you ever considered how clean is your bed? You might think that it is pretty clean. I mean it probably looks clean and might smells clean, but is it actually clean?
How often do you wash your sheets, pillow cases, and pillows? Do you know how often you should?
I came across an interesting study done by the Royal Society Journal that compared the beds of humans to chimpanzees, and the results were quite shocking. I will go into more detail as we go along, but the results found that human beds actually contain more bacteria than the bed of a chimpanzee.
In other words, we are more likely to sleep in our own filth than chimpanzees. That kind of puts things in a whole new perspective doesn’t it? Let’s dive in.
Sleeping with Bacteria
Researchers found that chimpanzee’s only sleep with about 3.5 percent of bacteria produced from their bodies such as from feces, the mouth, or skin.
Humans on the other hand sleep with around 35 percent of their own self-made bacteria every night, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that number is much higher in some instances.
Now you may be thinking that surely sleeping out in nature can’t be that clean, and you would be right. The main difference though is that the bacteria that chimpanzee sleep with our indeed produced by their natural environment and not from their own bodies as is the case with humans.
In other words, humans have cleaner sleeping environment yet most of us choose to still sleep in a bacteria infested bed.
A Chimpanzee Bed For Me
One secret that chimpanzees utilize to cut down on sleeping in their own filth comes from the fact that they do not have one single nest that they return to every night.
Chimpanzees actually make their nests out of leaves and branches in tree tops each night to avoid predators lurking below. Their nests are actually quite intricate and take painstaking effort with the end result resembling a thick and leafy mattress.
Even with all the effort it takes to create a nest at night, a chimpanzee will start all over again the next day. It is quite the fascinating ritual. This also explains why their bed could potentially be much cleaner than ours with only their environment and not their bodies providing bacteria.
Imagine sleeping in a different bed every single night.
You’ve Made Your Bed, Now Lie In It
Exactly how dirty is your bed? Well for starters, more than 166 million skin cells are shed onto our linens each night, not to mention our sweat, saliva, and any dirt we may already have on us.
All those skin cells that we shed are feeding dust mites on a nightly basis, roughly enough to potentially feed 1 million dust mites per night.
Also, some of us may have pets that sleep in the bed with us which brings along a whole host of other problems. In fact nearly half of dog owners and around 62 percents of cat owners say they let their pets sleep in their bed.
Pets can have fleas or ticks on them which could spread onto your linens and eventually to you as well as over 70 diseases that you could potentially catch. However, as long as you keep your pet healthy and clean you really don’t have too much to worry about.
I am not saying to kick your dog or cat out of bed, but they could potentially be an issue, and it is just another reminder that you will need to wash your linens frequently.
Lastly, I was surprised to find out that a growing trend of eating in bed has emerged lately. A recent study found that nearly a quarter of people admitted to eating at least a meal a week in bed.
I have never even thought of eating in bed, because I don’t keep a TV in my bedroom. I don’t recommend anyone keeping a TV in your bedroom if you won’t a good night’s sleep. I don’t see a problem eating in bed, but it just adds to the growing reasons while our bed is probably one of the dirtiest places in the house.
How Often Should We Wash Our Sheets?
Only about 44 percent of Americans wash their sheets once or twice a month. That is less than half and yet that actually isn’t really how often we should be washing them.
According to The Good House Keeping Institute, we should wash our sheets at least once every two weeks and once a week if you have a tendency to sweat a lot during the night.
If you have a problem with dust mites such as an allergy, you should wash your sheets once a week in water at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you are battling a sickness, you shouldn’t wash your sheets until after you have recovered and then the water temperature will need to be around 150 degrees Fahrenheit to effectively kill all the germs.
Once thing we shouldn’t forget as well is to wash our pillows. The pillowcase itself will offer some protection, but pillows can be a harbinger of bacteria if left unwashed for a significant amount of time. However, you actually only need to wash your pillows once every six months, but pay close attention to the type of pillow you have since they will require different methods of washing.
Lastly, when was the last time you ever cleaned your mattress? I bet for the majority of you out there the answer is never. I personally never even thought about it until I started learning more about sleep hygiene. I do realize that the current consensus seems to be to replace your mattress every 8 years. While I don’t really think we have to subscribe to that, it would be a good idea to clean your mattress in some fashion from time to time.
I stumbled across a brilliant and easy method for deodorizes and sanitizing your mattress. All you will need is a sifter, baking soda, and a vacuum cleaner. Sift the baking soda all over the mattress and let it stand for one hour. Once the time is up, vacuum up the remaining baking soda from the mattress. It is as easy as that. Give it a try to freshen up your room and give your mattress a little more life.
We started off asking how clean you think your be is, and I think it was probably dirtier than you imagined. When you consider than chimpanzees have cleaner beds than we do, it puts things in a whole new light.
Humans literally sleep in the same bed night after night for sometimes months on end without ever changing or washing the sheets. We sleep in our own filth. Besides cultivating dust mites, we also invite unnecessary germs and sickness into our lives.
I know change is hard, but if you we all make an effort to wash our sheets at least once every two weeks, we can reap the benefits of a cleaner and more comfortable sleeping experience. We all have enough trouble sleeping as it is. At the very least, we can sleep in a clean bed.
I hope you enjoyed the article, and I welcome any of your own cleaning tips or experiences related to your sleep hygiene. Take care everyone.