Changing the sheets on a weekly basis may sound like too much of a chore and we can empathize with such view. Stripping the bed of its beddings from the duvets, comforters and blankets to the fitted sheets and mattress protector can be physically strenuous. Airing the bed for a day, fluffing the pillows, and replacing the pillowcases, sheets, and mattress protector also require physical energy.
But if you change your bedding on an infrequent basis, such as once a month or when the sheets smell and look dirty only, you’re needlessly exposing yourself to health risks. You shouldn’t do so especially as sleep should have a healthy, restful and restorative quality to it, not one that invites illnesses and infections.
Why is this so? Your sheets are magnets for bacteria, fungi and germs, as well as dust, dirt and debris from your dead skin cells, sweat and oil, and cosmetics. You bring these things into the sheets when you come into contact with them, not to mention that your bedroom also harbors these potential pathogens and allergens.
Over time, these accumulate on your sheets and pillowcases resulting in their bad smells and dirty appearance. But it isn’t just the obvious signs that should turn you off either! You must also consider the ill effects that these pathogens and allergens will have on your health.
Acne Breakouts Are More Likely
If you sleep without removing your makeup, even for a single night when you’re feeling particularly lazy, be prepared for the consequences. The bacteria from the makeup will build up on your sheets and pillowcases until these have been washed in hot water, aside from the bacteria that are already present from other sources. These pathogens can then transfer from the sheets to your skin resulting in increased chances for an acne breakout.
Don’t believe the hype that acne comes from eating fatty, oily and greasy food because these are primarily caused by bacterial growth on the skin. The more time you spend with your skin coming directly into contact with dirty sheets, the more likely your skin will become peppered with pimples.
Indeed, washing your sheets and pillowcases is just as important in washing your face as part of your skincare regimen! You should even change your pillowcases every day if you have an acne breakout, especially with pimples. The bacteria will be less likely to transfer from your skin to the fabric and vice versa with daily changing.
Increased Risk for Skin Irritations
Even if you take a bath before going to bed, you’re still at risk for skin irritations when you sleep on dirty sheets and place your head on dirty pillows. When you don’t properly wash them, these can obviously harbor more bacteria for longer periods resulting in irritated skin. You may feel itchy all over your body and see red bumps over your skin, which can become entry points for bacteria to enter your system (i.e., open wounds).
If you have an existing skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis, the residues from your ointments will stick to the sheets, too. This will lead to more build-up of bacteria on the sheets and the cycle of your painful symptoms goes on.
Allergic Reactions May Increase in Severity
Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed on the dead skin cells that your skin sheds on a daily basis. While these may be tiny in size, their effects on your health aren’t exactly small, especially when you already have allergies to them. You will probably experience a worsening of your symptoms, such as sneezing and coughing, as your sheets and pillowcases become dirtier by the day.
When left untreated, your allergic reactions can lead to more serious diseases, such as asthma, rhinitis, or sinusitis. You don’t want the expense and inconvenience of any of these illnesses obviously. You should then make it a point to change your sheets on a weekly basis, at the minimum, and wash the old ones in hot water to kill dust mites.
Dust mites also linger in mattresses where they can be more difficult to remove. By changing your sheets weekly, you can reduce the risk of them making a permanent home in your bed.
But it isn’t just the allergic reactions that you should be aware of. Dirty sheets and pillowcases can increase the risk of bacterial and fungal infections; the bacteria and fungi usually thrive on the sweat your body releases during sleep particularly on hot and humid weather. These infections shouldn’t be taken lightly either as many of them are chronic in nature or difficult to treat, such as:
- Tinea versicolor, a skin disease characterized by uneven discoloration
- Tinea cruris, or jock itch, which grows on thighs, buttocks, and genitals
- Tinea pedis, or athlete’s foot, with symptoms including itchy skin between your toes
- Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can be difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics
In conclusion, your Sleepwell mattress may be the best there is but if you don’t change its beddings from the sheets to the pillowcases at least once a week, you may as well be sleeping with pathogens.