Do you get enough good-quality sleep? How does your bedding look? When did you last change your duvet and pillows? Good sleep and bedding hygiene are important, but many of us simply don’t make them a priority in our daily lives. And some of us just don’t know how to get better sleep. Let’s have a good hard look at your sleep patterns and what sort of environment you inhabit every night.

Are you sleeping enough?

This question is a tricky one, as the amount of sleep we need varies from person to person. However, for most adults, the best amount is 7–9 hours per night. Teenagers aged 14–17 need 8–10 hours, and children aged 6–13 need 9–11 hours.We don’t know whether you’re getting enough shut-eye — but a betting man would say no. A survey study has found that those in the UK, on average, get 6.8 hours per night. For most of us, that means we are missing over an hour of sleep each night. By the end of the week, that’s a whole night’s worth of sleep missing!


How well are you sleeping?

This is another important thing to ask yourself. Getting the hours in is all well and good, but sleep quality is important as well as quantity. A study by the National Sleep Foundation surveyed bedroom environments and sound sleeping. Participants who made their beds every day (or almost every day) were 44% likely to report a good night’s sleep every (or nearly every) day. Those who made their beds less often were only 37% likely to say the same. Meanwhile, 66% of all participants rated a clean bedroom as an important factor for a good night’s sleep.

How clean is your bedding?

The next big question of the day. Again, it varies for each person. According to this YouGov poll, 33% of Britons wash their bedsheets weekly, 35% wash them every two weeks, and 3% even wash them more than once per week. The same poll found that men tend to consider it unhygienic to sleep in sheets unwashed for four weeks and disgusting after six weeks. Women had higher standards of hygiene, considering three weeks unhygienic and five weeks disgusting.

There were also large differences in age groups: with age comes wisdom and better hygiene. Older participants were much more likely to wash their sheets every week and less likely to wait more than two weeks between washes. Across age groups, from 18 to over 60, a very similar proportion washed their sheets every two weeks (about a third of each group).

Here’s why you need clean sheets.

It’s great that most of us clean our bedsheets at least once every two weeks. But more of us should be washing them on a weekly basis.

Enough about bedsheets now. What about your duvet and pillows?

Did you know that one third of the weight of a two-year-old pillow is dead skin and dust mite faeces? Or that pillows from one and a half to over 20 years old can contain 4–17 species of fungus? Or that 45% of the UK have never washed their pillows or their duvet?

An unwashed duvet is full of all sorts: dust mites, alive or dead, skin scales and fungus which can cause infections like conjunctivitis. But it’s not just diseases you can get, but allergies too. Duvets become filled with allergens which, after high exposure, can give you new allergies. An example of the allergens in your duvet is likely the cat and dog kind. In a test of people’s duvets, half of them had significant amounts of cat allergen, despite only a tenth of the owners having a cat. This is because cat allergen sticks to clothes and travels all over the place.