Dangerous laziness: How not washing your bed sheets can make you ill
Eating, watching TV, reading, cuddling with a loved one or the family pet — we actually do a lot more things in bed than just sleeping. For those of us who sleep an average of seven hours a night, that means spending nearly 50 hours a week between the sheets. And most of us can tack on quite a few more hours when we consider all the time we use our beds for other things like the ones mentioned above.
Even though most of us enjoy the feeling of sleeping between freshly washed sheets, we're not usually very fond of changing and washing our bedding on a regular basis. But the reality is, anyone who sleeps in the same sheets for more than two weeks is actually putting their health at risk — at least according to Dr. Lisa Ackerley who specializes in hygiene.
Here are some of the health risks she wants everyone to be aware of and a few tips for reducing them...
When we crawl into bed at night we’re actually not getting in alone. Our bodies carry all kinds of viruses and bacteria and that’s really quite normal. Most often these micro-organisms don’t cause us any harm. But while we sleep we transfer some of them to our bed sheets through our skin cells, saliva and other bodily fluids and night after night they accumulate to the point that they can become a real problem. In the end, a bed that isn’t kept clean can become an incubator for all kinds of nasty health risks. Here are just some of them…
This bacteria loves to live in dirty sheets and can cause a wide range of health problems including lung infections, urinary tract infections, and skin infections.
This fungus thrives in the dark spaces between unwashed bed sheets and can lead to serious health problems including infections of the skin, genitals, throat, and even blood.
People suffering from acne should change their pillow case every few days to reduce their exposure to the bacteria that causes it.
Colds and flu
When suffering from a cold or a flu it is very important to make sure that your bedding is kept clean. In this case it should be changed every other day if possible to avoid further infection or passing it on to someone else.
These pesky critters love to multiply in the folds of dirty sheets. They don’t actually cause any diseases but they can make life very uncomfortable for people with allergies.
Here's a great close-up video showing how dust mites thrive in unwashed sheets:
Now here are some effective ways to prevent these health risks:
- Change your pyjamas or night gown every three days.
- Take a shower before going to bed — or at least wash your face and hands.
- If you have a pet, lay a blanket on the bed during the day to reduce their contact with the sheets.
- Don’t eat in bed. If you do and notice that you’ve spilled something or left crumbs, change your bedsheets immediately.
- Wash your bedsheets at least every two weeks in a hot laundry cycle.
- Keep your bedroom clean by vacuuming and dusting regularly.
If you take advantage of these tips, you might just notice yourself feeling a lot healthier after a good night's sleep. It takes a bit of effort, but isn't the feeling of sleeping in clean, crisp sheets worth the effort?