Do you sleep alone?
If you answered yes, I've got news for you. You may think you’re in bed by yourself, but you are actually sleeping with thousands of dust mites on your mattress.
I know what your thinking, “Not me! Not my mattress!” That’s exactly what I thought, too. But according to a video produced by the Ohio State University Acarology Lab, and reported by Digital Journal, thousands of microscopic dust mites are probably crawling on your mattress.
Watch the video. No, don’t. It’s disgusting.
These nasty little buggers feed off your dead skin cells, which are a much bigger meal than one would expect. According to Ed Grabianowski of Health-How Stuff Works, in one year, you shed more than eight pounds of dead skin.
Where do all those dead skin cells go? Everywhere you do. And where do you spend one third of each day? Uh-huh...in your bed. The typical mattress contains tens of thousands of dust mites, reports Environment, Health & Safety Online (EHSO).
As sick as this sounds, these creepy crawlers themselves aren’t really harmful to you. They don’t bite. It’s only their miniature poo-poo that poses a health risk. Dust mite feces (up to 20 droppings per dust mite, per day!) is one of the biggest causes of allergies and asthma. In fact, 25 percent of allergies are the result of dust mites.
10 Tips for Preventing Dust Mites
Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent these tiny critters from becoming sleep partners in your bed.
1. Wash sheets, blankets, pillows, and your mattress protector in very hot (140°) water at least every two weeks says EHSO. Ideally, you should change your sheets weekly.
2. For bedding that can’t be washed in hot water, such as pillows, place in the freezer for 24 to 48 hours to kill the dust mites.
3. When the mattress is stripped and you’re washing the bedding, take the time to vacuum your mattress. While you’re at it, vacuum the carpet also, because dust mites love carpet. Better yet, avoid carpet all together and leave the floors bare. Less dust. Less dust mites. Less allergies.
4. Use a mattress protector. It acts as a protective barrier, keeping dead skin cells away from the actual mattress. The mattress protector can be easily washed. The mattress, not so much. As an added benefit, a mattress protector will also shield your mattress from stains and fluids.
5. Consider getting a mattress or pillow made with latex, as latex is hypoallergenic and resists dust mites, mold and mildew.
6. Dust mites like warm humid conditions (no wonder they like your bed so much!), so keep the humidity in your home below 50 percent, and the temperature below 70 degrees. Homes with air conditioners running in summer, and dry heat in winter have fewer dust mites. Also, change your filters monthly, and use an air purifier with HEPA filtration.
7. Don’t make your bed everyday (your kids will love this one!). Believe it or not, studies show that not making your bed in the morning reduces the number of dust mites because it leaves your sheets exposed to the air, which dries them out and reduces the humidity caused by your body during sleep.
8. Open the window coverings and allow the sun to shine in your bedroom. Extended exposure to sunlight can kill dust mites.
9. Use synthetic rather than natural fabrics, and replace down pillows with synthetic ones.
10. Decrease indoor air pollution, such as tobacco smoke and poor ventilation.
While it’s impossible to completely rid your bedroom of dust mites, following these tips “mite” help you to breath better, and to get over the feeling that you’re sleeping with unwanted guests.