can you upgrade your life potential by making your bed?
There are two kinds of people: those who make their beds every day and those who leave it undone. Many people on both sides are adamant about the relative merits of this morning ritual.
Some people believe that, aside from the tidiness of your room, whether or not you smooth the comforter or fluff the pillows makes no difference. Others, however, believe that this habit can make a significant difference, particularly in terms of mental health. Let’s look at all of these points of view and the research to see if making your bed has an effect on your mental health.
The Ritual of Making the Bed
Does a neat bed make your parents prouder? Many people think so, including retired Navy four-star Admiral William H. McRaven, former UT System Chancellor. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World1 is a book by McRaven about the ritual’s mental health benefits.
In the 2017 book, McRaven extols the idea that making your bed sets you up for success. His view is that by simply making your bed, you’ve achieved something. So, straightening up your covers helps you start your day with a tiny victory that, theoretically, will inspire more throughout the day.
Who Is Doing It?
According to studies, more people make their beds than not.In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Bedroom Poll, roughly 70% of Americans make their bed every morning.Almost half of those polled in the study also take their covers off before going to bed at night.
Why Should You Make the Bed?
Some people believe that making the bed is a waste of time because you just crawl back in every night! Making the bed each morning, on the other hand, is far more than a chore or a way to keep your room tidy for many people.
Instead, it’s a way to start the day organized and with a clean slate, allowing you to make the most of your day.
Making the bed is about committing to doing the little things that contribute to a more orderly, thoughtful, responsible, balanced, or successful life. Making the bed is calming for some people, in addition to providing a quick sense of daily accomplishment.
While scientific evidence on the impact of making your bed is limited, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence pointing to significant mental health benefits of this daily practice. Among the potential benefits are the following:
- A feeling of accomplishment
- A sense of calm
- Better sleep
- Enhanced organization
- Improved focus
- Stress reduction
While there appear to be numerous potential benefits, are there any drawbacks to making the bed? Some people associate an unmade bed with a freer spirit, implying a possible link to creativity—and according to one study, a made bed is less hygienic.
A cluttered desk has been linked to increased creative thinking in studies; perhaps the same is true for leaving the bed undone.
The assumption is that by simply leaving your environment in a state of disarray, you will be able to get more creative juices flowing.
According to an older study from 2001, a made bed is more likely to breed germs, whereas an unmade bed discourages them by allowing air and sun to suffocate an otherwise potentially dark, damp breeding ground. 11 While the study appears to be a little sarcastic, its authors describe making the bed as a “unprecedented health risk.”
It is true that people sweat a lot while sleeping and shed skin cells, which both contribute to the potential “breeding ground” environment of the bed mentioned in the study.
However, a simple solution could be to simply change the sheets more frequently.
To Make or Not to Make
Finally, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t make your bed, and it’s unlikely that doing so will drastically change your life. However, as previously stated, there appear to be discernible benefits for many people who choose to practice this morning ritual, particularly in the areas of mental health, productivity, and sleep habits.
However, if you suspect that a messier bed or room will be more conducive to your creative endeavors (or if you simply want to see if there is a difference in how you feel with an unmade bed), it may be worthwhile to skip making your bed for a specific time.
One option is to keep a journal that tracks how you feel after making or not making your bed for a few weeks. After reviewing this information, you can decide whether the morning habit is right for you. You can always return to either method.