Is Making Your Bed Actually Bad For You?

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In today’s episode of things you can’t unhear: making your bed is unhealthy. Why, you ask? Well, a viral Instagram video claims that making your bed right after you wake up creates the perfect breeding ground for dust mites to thrive, thereby worsening allergies. Gross, yes, but is there any truth to it?

Just so we’re all on the same page, dust mites are very small insect-like pests that feed on flakes of dead skin cells and thrive in warm, moist environments, says Tania Elliott, MD, an allergist and immunologist. The critters are too small to see, but they settle deep in your bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and carpet. Inhaling the proteins in the dust mites’ feces, urine, and decay can cause an allergic reaction, she explains. Great!

On its face, there’s a certain logic to the viral video, created by anesthesiologist Myro Figura, MD. In it, he claims that making your bed immediately after waking up traps the moisture from your sweat and body heat in your sheets, creating prime conditions for dust mites to thrive.

So, Dr. Figura says, you should leave your bed unmade for an hour or two every morning to allow the moisture from your sweat to dry up, which will in turn “drastically reduce the number of dust mites that can survive.”

Seems sound, right? But we know by now that we shouldn’t believe everything we see online. With that in mind, POPSUGAR fact-checked the viral video’s claims with experts, who broke down whether it’s really time to switch up your bed-making ritual for good.

Is Making Your Bed Unhealthy?

Short answer: probably not. “Making your bed right after you get up or later in the day does not affect your health when it comes to dust mites,” says Amber Robins, MD, a family and lifestyle medicine physician. In fact, your allergies likely have nothing to do with the timeliness of your morning routine, because making your bed first thing in the morning does not trap moisture or increase the breeding grounds for dust mites, she says.

The claim that making your bed encourages dust mites to thrive has circulated before. It’s often attached to an old British study, reports The New York Times. In discussing the study, one of the researchers told the BBC, “Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die.” But according to the Times, that was speculation; the researchers planned to study how daily habits like bed making could affect dust mite populations, but hadn’t yet done so. And our experts agree that there’s still no good evidence that making or not making your bed has much of an impact on the tiny pests.

That said, there are tidbits of truth to the video. Dust mites can (and likely do) live in your pillows and mattress, Dr. Robins says. Roughly four out of five homes in the United States have dust mite allergens in at least one bed, according to the American Lung Association.

And the dust mites in and around your bed can worsen allergy symptoms in the morning and trigger sneezing, a runny and/or stuffy nose, watery or red eyes, coughing, and itching, Dr. Elliott says. It’s just that making or not making your bed in the morning doesn’t seem to have any real effect on their existence or their propensity to cause allergy symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Dust Mites in Bed?

The existence of dust mites in your bed won’t necessarily cause any symptoms. But if you’re allergic to the mites, the Mayo Clinic notes that symptoms of dust mites in your bed might range from the mild (runny nose, watery eyes, or sneezing) to the severe (persistent sneezing, worse congestion, pressure behind the sinuses or eyes, eczema, or even an asthma attack).

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites in Bed

Here’s another thing all the experts we spoke to agree the viral video gets right: you should wash your bedsheets and pillowcases at least every two weeks, but ideally once a week, to keep dust mite levels in check, Dr. Robins says. For the best results, wash your bedding weekly on the highest heat setting with water ranging from 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, she says.

Not everyone is predisposed to a dust mite allergy, but if you’re especially prone, it’s also best to get rid of throw pillows, opt for blinds over curtains, and use tightly woven cotton sheets or dust-mite-proof mattress covers, Dr. Elliott says. Regularly vacuuming your carpet and soft furniture with a HEPA vacuum can also nix the pests and reduce allergens, she adds.

And it’s true that dust mites prefer moist climates, so it’s better to limit the humidity in your bedroom to less than 50 percent, especially if you use a humidifier, Dr. Elliott says.

Last but not least, if your allergies become chronic, persistent, or severe, Dr. Robins says to talk with your healthcare provider. From there, they can do a proper allergy test and prescribe the necessary treatment.


Andi Breitowich is a Chicago-based freelance writer and graduate from Emory University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in POPSUGAR, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.


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