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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note/A Bed Unmade

Air Date: Week of

Living on Earth’s Jenn Goodman reports that an unmade bed is a healthy bed.


GELLERMAN: Just ahead: baa, baa black sheep in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Yes sir, yes sir…and that's the problem. First, this Note on Emerging Science from Jenn Goodman.


GOODMAN: We've all heard the saying that “if you make your bed, you must lie in it.” But scientists now believe that literally making your bed in the morning may be an unhealthy choice.

Researchers at Kingston University recently discovered that house dust mites, which are thought to cause asthma and other allergies, cannot survive in the warm, dry conditions found in an unmade bed. Results from their study suggests that something as simple as leaving a bed unmade can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so mites will dehydrate and eventually die.

Beds are prime habitat for mites. A typical mattress may be home to anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites, which also live on sheets and pillows. In fact, ten percent of the weight of a two-year-old pillow may be composed of dead mites and their droppings. This dust mite allergen is a factor in an estimated 50 to 80 percent of asthmatics, as well as in countless cases of eczema, hay fever and other allergic ailments.

In the next stage of research, the team of British scientists will use a computer model they developed to track how changes in the home can reduce the numbers of dust mites in beds. Heating, ventilation and insulation features within the studied homes will be altered to monitor how the mites cope with these changes. Findings from their research could help building designers create healthier homes with reduced mite concentrations and encourage asthma and allergy sufferers to control the dust mite levels by simply leaving their beds - unmade.

That's this week's Note on Emerging Science, I'm Jenn Goodman.

GELLERMAN: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

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[Music: The Chieftains "The Fiddling Ladies" Tears of Stone (BMG) 1999]



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