Why You Shouldn’t Ever Make Your Bed Again. Here’s a really good reason to be lazy in the morning.
When you spend about a third of your life sleeping, your mattress might as well be your home. And it turns out you’re living in filth.
According to the Sleep Council, older mattresses—typically 10 years or older—provide a breeding ground for a variety of bacteria, including staphylococcus, enterococcus, norovirus, and, in rare cases, MRSA.
The solution, oddly enough, is to avoid making your bed in the morning. Bacteria and mold like a warm, dark climate, so keeping your old mattress exposed to dry air throughout the day can help. (You don’t need to strip the sheets—just keep the heavy comforter and blankets off.)
Here are three more ways your mattress might be making you sick, and how to reclaim your bed once and for all.
1. It’s loaded with hidden chemicals.
Polyurethane, formaldehyde, and boric acid are just some of the chemicals that can be found in a common mattress.
Polyurethane is combustible, so in order to comply with safety regulations, many manufacturers treat their mattresses with flame-retardant chemicals that slowly release toxins over time and can show up in pregnant women’s placental tissue.
Other off-gassing chemicals can irritate your eyes, throat, nose, and lungs, and they’ve been linked to allergies, organ toxicity, and some cases of cancer.
What you should do: Buy an organic mattress. Look for the labels Global Organic Textile Standard and Global Organic Latex standard, which certify that 95 percent of materials are certified organic and the rest cannot contain flame-retardant chemicals or polyurethane.
Also, check for Oeko-Tex Standard 100, a standard that sets limits for chemical emissions and certifies that products do not contain certain flame-retardant chemicals or dyes that trigger allergies. You can also switch to a homemade shampoo to keep additional chemicals from showing up on your pillow.
2. It has saggy springs and floppy foam.
Whether you’re using a traditional spring mattress or foam, eventually it will lose elasticity and start to sag in well-worn areas. An uneven mattress won’t support your body properly and has the potential to cause persistent back, neck, and joint pain, and disrupt your sleep cycle.
What you should do: Rotate your mattress regularly. This will prevent your body from sinking into the well-worn areas of the mattress and help you get a full 8 hours of restful sleep.
If rotating your mattress doesn’t help relieve pressure on your body, consider investing in a new organic one. We like Naturepedic, which started out making safe and organic mattresses for cribs and young children but has now expanded to a full line of mattresses.
3. Bed bugs have invaded.
Your mattress can be home to hundreds of thousands of bed bugs and dust mites that you cuddle up with every night—so many that you can actually breathe in the fecal pellets these critters leave on your pillow and sheets.
Totally grossed out? According to the National Pest Management Association, the average mattress can contain 100,000 to 2 million dust mites, and after a decade, the weight of your mattress doubles due to their presence.
Unfortunately, mattresses aren’t the only area susceptible to dust mites and bed bugs. The Ohio State University Entomology Department has shown that up to 10 percent of a 2-year-old pillow’s weight can be attributed to dust mites and their excrement.
What you should do: Buy a mattress protector and vacuum your mattress at least once per week.