The 16 pros and cons of making your bed

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There are two kinds of people who make their bed and those who can’t be bothered to do so each day. There are many proven benefits of making your bed daily, but there are also downsides that you should be aware of. Read on to discover the two sides of this task.

1. Pros: Making your bed may improve the quality of your sleep

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According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), people who made their bed when they woke up were 19% more likely to say that they sleep well each night. When you consider the importance of a good night’s rest, making your bed suddenly becomes an even bigger priority. 

Getting the right amount of sleep allows your mind and body to recharge, leaving you refreshed and up to daily tasks when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body stave off illnesses. Without quality sleep, your brain can’t function properly, which can impair your abilities to think, concentrate, and process memories. 

Making your bed for the sake of improved sleep quality doesn’t necessarily mean creating a magazine-worthy bed when you wake up. Many people struggle to do this, but the good news is that you don’t need to. Simply pulling your comforter over the sheets and ensuring that the bed looks pretty tidy will make a significant impact on the quality of your sleep.

2. Pro: Making your bed could help increase your productivity

According to a survey conducted by Best Mattress Brand, spending a few extra minutes making your bed after you wake up could help you lead a more productive life. While smoothing your comforter back and rearranging pillows might seem like a small task, it can help you feel more willing to tackle more significant tasks throughout the rest of your day. More than 8 in 10 bed-makers agreed with this logic. 

Of those surveyed who spread the bed after waking up, 34% reported having a very productive day at work, and 58% said they were productive. For the individuals who didn’t make their beds, far fewer considered themselves very productive, while 63% said they were productive. Of course, it could be argued that individuals who prefer to make their beds when they wake up tend also to be more driven and focused, to begin with. For example, out of all the people surveyed, 63% of the people who made their beds started their work right away, whereas those who didn’t make their beds preferred to ease into their work. Additionally, 76% of bed-makers claimed their work quality is always what they considered their best, compared to 68% of non-bed-makers.

3. Pros: It encourages cleanliness

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When you make your bed, you may start to see the clutter in your bedroom, which might be the motivation you need to sweep the floor or decide to do some laundry finally. Whatever the case, a tidy bed can encourage cleanliness throughout your sleep sanctuary. When you have a cleaner sleeping space, you’ll likely be more mindful of what you take out of your closet before getting dressed and how many cups you bring to the room.

4. Pro: It lowers stress levels, boosts your mood, and improves executive function

Making your bed can vastly improve your mood and lower stress levels. While there isn’t much research to back the effects of making your bed, there is a reliable body of evidence that indicates a link between the living and working in a clutter-free environment and having improved focus, lower levels of stress, and a better mood. Essentially, it’s believed that a tidy bedroom (and house in general) makes for a clean mind.

Those with messier sleeping environments, especially in hoarding cases, have a poorer executive function and more emotional regulation, stress, and mental health problems. Furthermore, studies have indicated that a cluttered living space impairs your ability to process information – this is especially relevant if you consider that those who live in a clutter-filled area are also less likely to make their beds.

Studies also show that individuals, especially older people, who live in a tidy environment are more likely to retain or improve brain function. This can enhance their quality of life in general. On the flip side, having a messy sleeping environment and living space can negatively affect your well-being. It’s not too much of a stretch to extend this line of thinking to the impact of making your bed.

5. Pro: Get more use out of your bed

Your bed is meant for sleeping and relaxing, but with a clear-made bed, you can also have a neat and straightened surface area where you can tackle other chores like laundry. Furthermore, a made bed can also serve as a social place where you and others can hang out, play games, or relax without having to sit uncomfortably on top of a pile of wrinkled sheets or shove the comforter or blankets to one side.

6. Pro: Look at it as a reward

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Making your bed can be one of the first tasks you check off your list. While it may not be a significant task, it can help you feel a slight sense of accomplishment. This can help you feel accomplished, which is rewarding in itself. Additionally, after a long and hard day, there’s nothing better than crawling into a made bed.

7. Pro: Keeps dust from getting underneath your bed covers

Making your bed can help prevent dust and debris from getting underneath the covers and soiling your sheets during the day. Bed sheets can be one of the primary sources for collecting and housing a load of dust-related nasties, so make sure your bed is well made and aim to wash them at least once a week with hot water to ensure cleanliness. 

8. Pro: A made bed makes the bedroom appear neater

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Imagine walking into a hotel room. The first thing that likely draws your attention is a neatly made bed. Now picture that same hotel room with an unmade, messy bed. You’d probably recoil and ask for housekeeping or even request to be moved to an entirely different room. Similarly, a made bed instantly makes your bedroom look and feel neater and more inviting, while an unmade one has the exact opposite effect. For this reason, it might be worth taking those couple of minutes each morning to straighten your bed.

9. Pro: It can help you cultivate good habits

The consistency of the micro-actions (behaviors that don’t require effort and time)  that you take in your life can eventually lead to noticeable changes. Making your bed is a seemingly insignificant action, but it can help you cultivate good habits in other areas of your life.

10. Pro: There may be self-esteem implications attached to making your bed

You may not always be aware of your internal feelings, and as a result, your behaviors inform you of them. This is known as the self-perception theory – you may think to yourself, “I don’t like making my bed,” but if you continue to do it regardless, it can help change the perception you have of yourself.

11. Pro: It helps prevent embarrassment

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Picture this scenario – you leave your house in a rush, you get home later in the day, and you have an unexpected visitor. You socialize for a bit, and then they ask to use your washroom, which happens to be past the bedroom. While some may claim that it’s not a big deal, it can be quite an embarrassment for your visitor to catch a glimpse of an unmade bed, and they might even form an impression of you based on that.

12. Cons: Dust mites thrive in a made bed

While making your bed is admittedly good for your mental health, it could be better for your physical health to leave it unmade, according to scientists. On average, each bed typically contains more than a million dust mites. These critters thrive in the dark, damp spaces of your pillows and mattress. They feed on sweat and dead skin cells that you shed when you lie in bed, and they poop out an allergen that can trigger asthma-like symptoms. 

Making your bed after you wake up inadvertently traps millions of dust mites in your bedding, keeping them warm and safe from drying out and dying in the bright daylight. As a result, they can continue to eat, poop, and increase in number. These annoying bugs rely on being tucked in every morning to stay alive and continue their life cycles the next night.

If you skip making your bed after waking up in the morning, you expose the dust mites to the sun and fresh air, drastically reducing their chances of survival and eventually killing them. While it’s virtually impossible to make your home dust mite proof, you can significantly reduce their numbers in the following ways:

  • Let your bed air out before spreading it for at least an hour
  • Wash your sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding at least every two weeks at 104°F or above to kill them off. To dry your bedding, toss in the dryer, or hang everything to dry in direct sunlight.
  • If your bedding can’t be washed in hot water, place items in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at a temperature of at least 130°F.
  • Use pillow and mattress protectors and wash often.
  • Declutter your bed and bedroom to reduce the presence of dust mites. Clutter tends to gather dust quickly, therefore removing items like decorative pillows or stuffed animals on the bed will help prevent this.
  • Keep pets out of your bedroom. Cats and dogs are cuddly and fun to curl up with as you sleep, but having them in your bed creates more dead skin cells for dust mites to feed on. 
  • Turn the heating down. Dust mites prefer humid environments, which is why setting the temperature in your bedroom at no higher than 21°C can help to slow down their breeding.
  • Clean your mattress at least twice a year.

13. Cons: You may get better sleep

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It has been consistently proven that a bed that is aired out regularly is not only healthier but may also help you sleep better. All the unpleasant smells from your nighttime slumber have vanished by the time you crawl back into bed to sleep after a day of letting the mattress “breathe.” 

14. Cons: Time and money saver

This option is quicker and easier than making the bed with its fitted sheet, top sheet, comforter, and/or bedspread. Simply leaving off your comforter/bedspread will save you time and money, as you don’t have to do as much to make your bed look decent and not spend as much on bedspreads, comforters, or decorative pillows.

15. Cons: The danger of injuring yourself making your bed

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There’s always the possibility that you could inadvertently injure yourself when making your bed. According to an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the act of making a bed can be strenuous and adversely affect your health. Many beds are low to the floor, and as a result, they require constant lumbar flexion. Repeatedly bending over to tuck in sheets and blankets leaves you vulnerable to chronic low-back pain in the long term.

16. Cons: Creativity 

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Research has shown that a messier work surface may be correlated to enhanced creative thinking – maybe the same could be said for keeping the bed undone. On the contrary, researchers also found that individuals who maintained a clean work surface (which may relate to a tidy bed) made healthier choices and were more likely to be conventional.

It’s worth mentioning that the study results were based on bringing an individual into a room with a messy or clean desk. Therefore, the assumption is that by simply existing in a messy environment, you may get more of your creative juices flowing, while tidying up may lead to more focus and orderly thinking.

Final thoughts

As you can see, some arguments can be made for both making your bed and leaving it unmade. Whether or not you choose to make your bed is entirely up to you. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it – if a messy bed makes you feel good, by all means, embrace it. However, research-based evidence indicates a link between tidying up and a better night’s sleep, improved mental health, and increased productivity, so it might be worth trying it if you have any concerns in those areas. If you’re worried about creating a breeding ground for dust mites by making your bed, a simple solution may be to change your sheets a bit more often.

Zoltan Szatmari

Zoltan is a test and industrial engineer from Europe who loves learning anything new and working on small projects. When he is not working, he is usually hiking or going to the cinema.

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