Pop quiz! How long has it been since you changed the sheets on your bed? If it has been more than one week, brace yourself and read on!
Consider this: We spend a third of our lives snuggled between our sheets, and under our comforters in bed. Humans shed over 500 million skin cells a day, many of them sloughed off as we roll around on bed sheets. Add to that the other daily deposits of drool, dandruff and sweat on your sheets and pillow cases and you’ve got a veritable feast for the millions of dust mites taking up residence in your bed!
The proper name of these tiny critters is Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, and their entire lives are spent feeding on dead skin cells, defecating, breeding and piling up on your sheets as you snooze away.
So, what kind of health issues can sleeping amongst dust mites cause? In addition to the icky feelings you may now be having after just reading about them, dust mites can also lead people to suffer from the usual array of allergy symptoms such as eczema, runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat and sometimes even difficulty breathing and wheezing. Add a fur baby that occasionally cuddles up on those sheets with you and they can leave mites that are able to burrow under your skin, cause itchy fungal infections or even ringworm.
Sweet dreams remedy? Wash your sheets in very hot water and change them at least once per week. If you sleep in the nude, snack in bed, let the kids sleep with you or sweat profusely during the night, you should consider changing your sheets even more often.
Did you know that dirty pillowcases can lead to acne and clogged pores? Dead skin cells, saliva, sweat and body secretions can turn your comfy pillowcase into a petri dish of germs! Lab tests found that swabs from pillow cases unwashed for just one week harbored 17,000 times more colonies of bacteria than samples taken from a toilet seat!
Sweet dreams remedy? In addition to changing your sheets once a week, you may be able to cut down on acne, breakouts and skin irritations by making sure to change your pillow cases 2-to-3 times a week. Be sure to wash them in the hottest water possible, and dry on the highest heat setting acceptable to the fabric.
You may not realize it, but the very pillow you lay your head down upon at night could also be full of fungus, especially if it has never been washed. If you have asthma or severe allergies, this could be dangerous to your health as well as interrupting your good night’s sleep.
Sweet dreams remedy? Check the care label on your pillows to make sure that they, too, are washable, and then drop them into your washing machine. If you use pillow protectors, drop those in as well.
Wash all of your bedding at the hottest water setting, and be sure to use a germ killer like bleach if possible. Set your dryer to highest heat setting. Wash (or have dry cleaned) all comforters and duvets 2-to-4 times a year.
Finally, contrary to what you may have heard, NOT making your bed could actually make you healthier. When you are making your bed, you’re literally providing the dust mites with a protected area! Basically, you are just tucking them in until you return to them at night! Said researcher Dr. Stephen Pretlove: “We know that mites can only survive by taking in water from the atmosphere using small glands on the outside of their bodies.
Sweet dreams remedy? 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.