How safe is your bed?
Do you consider your bed a safe haven of rest and calm? Do you sink into a mattress after a hard day's work and feel tension and stress drain away as you rest your weary head on a soft pillow? Well, you might not feel so relaxed if you knew that microscopic pests were lurking there! It seems that beds may not be such a good place for our well-being - they could actually be making us ill!
Recent studies have shown that bacteria, fungi and dust mites, some smaller than the diameter of a hair, live in our bedding. When we move around in our sleep, we disturb them and they are propelled into the air - which we then breathe in as we sleep. According to the American Lung Association, four out of five households in the United States now have high levels of dust mites, although it's not the mites themselves that cause the problems, but their droppings. These are "highly allergenic" according to Dr William Berger, a fellow with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "Even if you aren't allergic… they can still irritate you, the way pepper would if it blew into your nose and eyes."
Brendan Boor, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, who carries out bed research, also found that bed dust in the air triggers allergies - causing watery eyes, sneezing, coughs and asthma. He has recommended ways to limit our exposure to these unsavoury allergens:
Firstly, he suggests vacuuming your mattress regularly - weekly, or even daily. He also recommends doing away with carpets and washing floors. Using allergen-proof bed covers, he says, can reduce the risk of getting allergies. In addition, washing bedding and pillows frequently can help, as can a portable air cleaner placed near the bed.
If you do as Brendan Boor suggests, you will breathe in cleaner air as you sleep… or will you? Is it really safe for you to go back in your bed…?