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Our Hygeine Blindspots: What’s on Your Pillowcase?

Tuesday, October 10th 2023 10:00am 4 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

Many individuals make it a routine to take a shower or cleanse their faces before going to sleep, and some even opt to change their sleepwear daily. Nevertheless, the importance of maintaining the hygiene of bedsheets and pillowcases often goes unnoticed. Research has demonstrated that after just one week of use, pillowcases can accumulate levels of bacteria that are nearly 20,000 times higher than those present on a toilet seat—a startling fact that often goes overlooked.

To minimize potential health hazards, experts strongly recommend establishing a regular practice of changing bed linens.

Approximately one-third of an individual’s lifespan is spent sleeping. While healthy adults require a minimum of seven hours of sleep each day, infants and adolescents require even more to support their growth and development. A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that 73 percent of respondents considered comfortable bedsheets crucial for achieving a restful night’s sleep, and 68 percent believed that a clean bedroom contributes to improved sleep quality. This survey indicated that maintaining clean bedding could indeed enhance the overall sleep experience.

However, the actual cleanliness of our bedsheets might not align with our assumptions. In reality, they often serve as breeding grounds for dust mites and bacteria, transforming into “hygiene blind spots” within our homes.

In a study conducted by AmeriSleep, an American bedding company, participants were instructed to refrain from washing their bedsheets for a period of four weeks. The results disclosed that by the conclusion of the study, the pillowcases contained 39 times more bacteria than a pet bowl, while the bedsheets harbored 5.4 times more bacteria than a toothbrush holder. Shockingly, pillowcases left unwashed for a mere week accumulated 17,442 times the number of bacteria found on a toilet seat!

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