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Growing up, most of us probably heard our parents tell us time and time again to make our beds each morning — but as it turns out, they may have been wrong.
Research from Kingston University has shown that making your bed in the morning traps in dust mites that have accumulated overnight and provides a breeding ground for allergens that can exacerbate asthma and allergies.
What To Know About Dust Mites
These microscopic bugs feed on scales of human skin and thrive in moist environments. When we sleep during the night, our bodies become warm and sweaty, making us a prime target for these dust mites to feed on our skin (and leave behind excretions that can give us asthma-like symptoms).
Making your bed first thing in the morning traps in this moisture, allowing your bed to be a home for up to 1.5 million dust mites. If you leave your bed messy, however, the mites are exposed to air and sunlight, which causes them to become dehydrated and die out.
Because mites can produce allergens that are problematic for people with asthma or allergies, it’s important to minimize the number of mites milling around in your bed.
To search for a solution to the problem, scientists at the university developed a computer model to track the number of dust mites in the home. They found that leaving your bed unkempt throughout the day is the best solution to reduce the number of dust mites. Letting your bed air out to remove any moisture inhibits mite survival, so you no longer have to feel guilty about heading out the door in a rush with your sheets in a tangle.
If you’re someone who can’t stand a messy bed, at least consider leaving your bed unmade in the morning for a few hours, and putting it together later in the afternoon.
Combatting Dust Allergies
The American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology recommends the following to help combat dust allergies at home:
- Remove wall-to-wall carpets, particularly in the bedroom.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom, and preferably out of the house.
- Minimize household humidity.
- Use “mite-proof” cases on mattresses and pillows; wash bed linens frequently in hot water.
- Install a high-efficiency filter in your furnace and air conditioning unit.
Keeping your house cool and dry can also help reduce dust mites, as they thrive best in a warm and humid environment.
Other Benefits Of Keeping Your House Cool
In addition to combatting mites, keeping your home cool (between 60 and 67 degrees seems to be the ideal) while you sleep has been shown to provide a number of other health benefits, including:
1. Decreasing Your Risk For Metabolic Diseases
In a four-month study, researchers determined that sleeping in a 66-degree room not only burned more calories while awake, but the amount of “brown fat” (or good fat) in the body increased. Brown fat allows your body to burn calories, not store them. Together, this could help lower the risk for metabolic diseases like diabetes over time.
2. Getting A Better Night’s Sleep
When your body isn’t too busy trying to regulate its temperature, you’ll fall into a deeper, more restorative sleep. Research in Australia has also proven that sleeping in cooler environments can help decrease certain types of insomnia. And, as we know, getting enough sleep is so important to our overall health.
If you’re not sold on leaving your bed unmade, check out this comforter that will make the bed for you. It can also regulate temperature — for each side of the bed!
3. Looking More Youthful
Research has shown that sleeping in temperatures between 60-68 degrees will allow your body to release more melatonin, which is not only essential for a good night’s sleep but is also one of our best anti-aging hormones.
If you and your spouse argue over the thermostat setting, or your house just can’t seem to get cool enough for you, here are some tips for staying cool while you sleep:
- Freeze your top sheet and put it on right before bedtime.
- Sleep naked. Fewer clothes equals less insulation.
- Use a fan to circulate air around the room.
- Purchase a cooling pillow to help naturally draw the heat away.
- Soak your top sheet in cold or ice water and ring it out well. As it dries, it will help wick away heat.
- Stick one or both feet out from under the covers.
Investing in a smart thermostat that can be programmed around your sleeping schedule can help, too. These thermostats, like the Nest or Honeywell Home, can help keep your home cool while you sleep but ensure it’s not a chilly 60 degrees when it’s time to roll out of bed in the morning.
What are your tricks for getting a good night’s sleep?