Why Making Your Bed Every Day Isn’t Just Being OCD

By Marygrace Taylor
Last Updated On December 2nd, 2020

At first thought, making your bed seems like a huge a waste of time. After all, is there really a point in arranging all those sheets, blankets, and pillows every…

Why Making Your Bed Every Day Isn’t Just Being OCD

At first thought, making your bed seems like a huge a waste of time. After all, is there really a point in arranging all those sheets, blankets, and pillows every morning if you’re just going to undo the whole thing at night?

Actually, yes. And it goes beyond just making your room look a little cleaner.

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Sure, making your bed as your first task of the day might seem like the kind of thing reserved for obsessive neat freaks or domestic goddesses. But believe it or not, tidying up your sleep area can have a major impact on your well-being and even your sleep quality.

Here’s why making your bed matters.

We’ve all had those mornings when getting up feels almost impossible. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Or you got into a huge fight with your partner. Or you’re dreading starting that project at work tomorrow. Or the weather outside is terrible and you just aren’t in the mood to deal with real life. Even if you’re having a miserable day, starting out with a made-bed can change your perspective and even help you make tough decisions.

todo-list

Full disclosure: Making your bed won’t actually make any of those problems go away. But it does make you feel like you accomplished something. And that there’s some tiny part of your life that you actually do have some semblance of control over.

But doesn’t making your bed just steal from your already limited amount of time and energy? As a matter of fact, it’s the opposite. When you tackle one to-do on your list, it suddenly becomes significantly easier to get the next thing done, too.

In other words, bed-making actually puts you in a more productive state of mind that gives you a little bit more fuel—not less. Kind of like exercising or eating right.

And plenty of majorly productive people agree. When Admiral William McRaven gave the keynote speech to the graduating class of the University of Texas in Austin on commencement day in 2014, he didn’t start off by telling graduates to work really hard or to remember that life doesn’t always turn out how you expect.

Instead, his words of encouragement to grads were: “make your bed.” In Admiral McRaven’s original speech, he said, “[Making your bed] will give you a small sense of pride. And it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.  By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed,” he said. It will give you a small sense of pride. And it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. This practical advice may seem like simple wisdom, but it can set off positive ripples in your entire day. William McRaven even went on to write a timeless book called “Make Your Bed,” with other core tenets, lessons, and inspiration for a productive life.

Of course, the pro bed-making mindset isn’t exclusive to recent grads. Surveys suggest that while only around a quarter of adults actually make their bed on a daily basis, those who do are more likely to consider themselves more prone to optimism than non bed-makers.

They might even sleep better, too. Bed-makers are also more likely to enjoy their jobs and exercise regularly—both of which are important for keeping stress in check and ultimately achieving more satisfying snooze time. Turns out it takes very little effort to feel productive at the beginning of each day!

And when you’re more well-rested, you’ll have more energy to get more stuff done the next day—like making your bed again. (You’ll also be less inclined to hit the snooze button, so you actually have time to rearrange your blankets before heading off to work.)

In other words, arranging those bed sheets before heading out the door in the morning pretty much throws you into a cycle of positivity and productivity. And it takes about two minutes of your time.

What could possibly be the down side?

But what about that thing that says making your bed is unhealthy?

Wait, but didn’t I hear some weird thing about how making your bed is actually bad for you? It’s true that one recent survey published in the journal Experimental & Applied Acarology did find that making your bed seems to create a cozier environment for dust mites.

The theory is that making your bed creates a slightly warmer, more moist environment for the hoards of microscopic bugs that live on your mattress and sheets and feast on your dead skin cells. Leaving your bed unmade exposes the sheets to more fresh air and light, which could kill more of the mites.

messy-bed

But here’s the thing. The average bed is home to some 1.5 million dust mites. And if you think something as gentle as a little bit of fresh sunlight is going to magically kill them all, you’re sorely mistaken. Mother Nature isn’t that powerful.

For now, there’s no research weighing the psychological benefits of making your bed against the hygienic benefits of leaving your sheets rumpled. But considering the fact that we’re surrounded by microscopic bugs all the time and are doing just fine, it seems unlikely that leaving your bed unmade will have any kind of measurable positive impact on your health.

Unless you have debilitating allergies, most experts agree that you’ll be able to keep the bugs in check by washing your sheets every week or two. Which, when you’re reaping all the productivity benefits of making your bed every morning, might actually start to feel like less of an impossible chore than it used to.

Has making the bed had a positive impact on your productivity? We are always here to chat.

FAQs

Why should you make your bed?

When you make your bed first thing in the morning, you set a pattern for the rest of the day. Taking part in these common simple changes can lead to other positive lifestyle shifts, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and better sleep. You spend one third of your life in bed,  and keeping your room clutter free helps you relax more easily, and it can even stave off depression and anxiety for some. Disorganization in your living space can lead to a disorganized and anxious mind.

Does making your bed make you happier?

One study found that people who wake up earlier actually became morning people, and could even wake up without an alarm clock! Waking up alarm-free is one of the healthier ways to wake up, plus it trains your body to sync up with its natural circadian rhythm. Getting a consistent 7-9 hours every night will lead to more better productivity, so yes, it can make you happier!

How often should you wash your sheets?

You should wash your sheets every 2 weeks or so to keep your room clean and your sleeping space free of dust mites or bed bugs. Some sheet fabrics are more high-maintenance than others, such as silk, but we recommend organic cotton, Tencel, or bamboo for cool, durable sheets.

How should you make your bed?

Though you don’t have to face inspection for doing it perfectly, a neat bed leads to a neat room, and a more organized life. First, clear your bed of any clutter. Remove any pillows (including throw pillows). Put on the fitted sheet, followed by the top sheet. Most people don’t need to replace the fitted sheet every morning, and some people don’t even use a top sheet. If less bedding will make you more likely to make your bed, go for it! Fold the top sheet so it’s tucked under the corners of the mattress and doesn’t hang out. Then put on your duvet, quilt, or comforter. Replace the pillows.

Can making my bed make me more successful?

In Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit,” he noted that making your bed establishes a direct link to better productivity and overall health. When your make your bed, it helps you be more productive throughout the day and invest your time in other healthier habits. Making your bed certainly isn’t one of the “big things” you’ll face every day, but doing those small things first is huge.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.


About the author

Marygrace Taylor is a health and wellness writer based in Philadelphia. She’s covered healthy sleep and sleep hygiene for Amerisleep and other outlets since 2014. She also writes about diet and nutrition, women’s health, and fitness for outlets like Healthline, Men’s Health, and Prevention.

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