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Revealed! Things that sleep in bed with you

It’s about the main item in the bedroom, and its importance therein cannot be overemphasised. In fact, without it, the room is like an empty space.

Apart from being a good place for sexual congress and a comfortable venue for pillow talks, the bed is unarguably the best place to sleep, regardless of where it is placed in the house, and it has been found to reduce stress levels, increase sleep quality and allow for quality thinking. Suffice it to say that the mattress qualifies as an exclusive place for sleep, rest and sex.

Whether the mattress is placed on the floor or on a piece of furniture, when covered with a good bed sheet, coupled with the quality of the mattress, warmth and comfort become a given.

Studies have shown that most people sleep for an average of five hours daily, which means that people spend a considerable part of their lives sleeping or resting and previous studies pointed out that people spend about one-third of their lives sleeping. Since everybody sleeps, mostly on the bed, useful information about the bed could be just as important.

However, in spite of the much succour the bed offers, coupled with its importance in ensuring the overall well being of people, findings by some scientists have shown that many mattresses are filled with germs, bacteria, moulds and fungi such that could lead to skin infections, asthma and other ailments.

They found that a mattress that has been in use for some time could have as much as 101 billion dead skin cells and that these cells would provide food for about 10 million dust mites on the bed.

This implies that beyond sleeping alone or sharing the bed with a partner, many people unknowingly share their beds with germs, bacteria and moulds, because when these bacteria feed on dead cells that the skin naturally sheds on the bed, it becomes a haven for them.

The study, published on Mail Online, added that germs such as E coli and staphylococcus aureus bacterium can also be found on the bed and their presence can trigger coughing and worsen asthma and eczema in the users.

The study pointed out that because of the way some people use their bed, such as sleeping on it while sweating, eating on it, carelessly soaking it without drying, bedwetting and more importantly the way the skin naturally sheds skin cells on the bed, these give room for the growth of such bacteria and fungi on the bed.

The lead researcher, Lisa Ackerley, pointed out that these germs build up over time and their effect on the body could be harmful.

She said, “Most people would be rather surprised about the things they can find in an old mattress. Mould and bacteria build up over the years and, although invisible, people could be breathing in harmful spores at night.

“Bacteria such as E coli indicate the presence of faecal contamination, which shows that if someone was carrying an infectious disease, it could be passed onto someone sharing the bed.

“Some staphylococcus aureus bacteria found on the bed can cause skin infections and there are some strains that are antibiotic resistant, including MRSA. People tend to focus on cleaning the things they can see – pillows and sheets – but the mattress itself can be a hotbed of potential illness.”

The study noted that one good way to insulate the bed from having a direct contact with the body is to use bed sheets, and that such must be washed frequently to avoid mites. Ackerley explained that when people stand up from bed, they should endeavour to remove the bed sheets so as to allow some fresh air penetrate the mattress, otherwise the sheets would preserve some heat in the bed, which may be home to bacteria.

It emphasised that certain habits, such as eating and drinking should be taken away from the bed to reduce the likelihood of introducing germ-inducing substances to the mattress.

Some experts have, however, pointed out that people should try and change their bed once it has been used for about five years because of the accumulation of sweat and dust mites on it, the implication of which could include infection and lack of good sleep.

Meanwhile, scientists have proven that having a good sleep has a direct link with people’s productivity and concentration and that not having good sleep could be detrimental to people’s health as well.

The National Sleep Foundation had recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per day, noting that to have a good sleep, people should exercise daily, sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows, avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime, turn off electronics and practise a relaxing bedtime ritual.

A study by Fast Company, with the aim of identifying how people can have healthy sleeping habits, has pointed out some sleeping habits that could increase productivity and concentration during the day.

The report, published on Mail Online advised that people should endeavour to set a bedtime so as to develop a consistent sleep pattern, avoid alcohol and creating an ideal sleep environment, among others.

The Sleep Research Laboratory director at West Virginia University, Dr. Hawley Montgomery, stated that an indication that people who usually rely on alarm clock had evidently not had enough sleep. “If you are someone who needs your alarm to get you up in the morning, or worse, you continue to hit the snooze button on the alarm device for as long as possible, you most likely need to get more sleep,” she added.

The NSF also advised that people should pick a bedtime and wake-up time that they can stick to, which would allow their body’s internal clock to get used to a certain bedtime and help them sleep faster and wake up more easily.

According to the report, alcohol has been found to reduce rapid eye movement sleep, while caffeine could disrupt sleep if taken about six hours earlier.

The study added, “People should switch off their electronics before bed because the blue light emitted from their screens suppress melatonin, the hormone that controls people’s sleep/wake cycle, and keeps the brain alert.

“For increased productivity at work, taking a brief nap, like one hour, at work can boost and restore brain power and increase productivity.”

Commenting on the study, a medical practitioner, Dr. Rotimi Adesanya, said a mattress, like any other surface, harbours dust and germs which could have some effects on the skin if they come into contact. He added that sweat, which is a waste product of body metabolism, could over time also breed bacteria and germs.

He added, “Sometimes, when people sweat excessively, the sweat passes through the bedspread and enters the foam. As a result, bacteria and germs are being harboured. Also, when the skin comes in contact with any surface, there is usually something left behind. Thus, such small cells could be left on the bed and these bacteria can act on them.

“Mattresses also harbour dust, and over time, they are accumulated and as a result, they can breed bacteria and fungi, which could be a source of allergy for those who have asthma. It tends to trigger the asthmatic attack over time.”

Adesanya therefore advised that people should endeavour to use bedspread and fumigate the bed periodically. “People should fumigate their beds periodically. In the villages, people take their bed out into the sun periodically so the sun can help to kill these germs, but ideally, they are supposed to fumigate the beds periodically,” he added.

Source: Punch