According to New York University microbiologist, Philip Tierno: “We spend more than a third of our lives in bed – but that place can quickly blossom into a “botanical park” of bacteria and fungus… If left for too long, the microscopic life within the wrinkles and folds of our bed sheets can even make us sick.”
While sleeping, we all release enough sweat (about 26 gallons a year) to create an ideal environment for a variety of fungi—researchers found that pillows alone can support between 4-17 different species of fungus.
But that’s not all… there are also loads of bacteria set free from just our normal bodily excretions from sweat, sputum, skin cells, and vaginal and anal excretions. If that were not scary enough, our beds are also host to foreign microbes from animal dander, pollen, dirt, lint and mite poop.
Basically, our bed is a giant petri dish! It takes about a week for this mix to turn into a gross microbial soup that can, in fact, make you sick, as you are forced to breathe it in due to the proximity of pillows and sheets to your mouth and nose. Even if you do not have allergies, your sheets can still trigger an allergic response and leave you with a scratchy throat within a week or two.
It’s hard to visualize this invisible world, so Tierno uses this analogy, “If you touched dog poo in the street, you’d want to wash your hands,” said Tierno. “Consider that analogous to your bedding.”
In order to provide a more healthy sleeping environment, Tiero suggests that sheets should be washed once a week.
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