Your bed is one of the last places you want to think of as dirty—it is, after all, where you retreat to every single night, burrowing into the blankets and pillows to get as comfortable as possible. Many of us even go out of our way to make sure our beds stay as clean as they can be by washing our sheets regularly, showering before going to sleep, and refusing to sit on the bed in the clothes we’ve worn all day. Unfortunately, it seems like none of that means anything. Your bed is way, way more gross than you think, and you’re going to be horrified when you learn that it’s even dirtier than something one would assume is pretty filthy.
Are you ready for this? Honestly, you’re probably not, but we’ll tell you anyway.
New research says that your bed is probably dirtier than a chimpanzee’s bed. Yes, a chimpanzee. Your bed is dirtier than that. Do you want to take a shower yet?
This information comes to us via a new study from North Carolina State University that was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. Researchers in Tanzania looked at swabs of 41 chimpanzee beds and tested them for microbial biodiversity. What they found was that a chimp’s bed was vastly different from a human bed, and that the chimp beds were much less likely to be crawling with fecal, oral, or skin bacteria. Human beds contain all of those things.
You might think the filth in your bed is coming from an outside source, like clothing that gets piled up on your comforter, but actually, it’s a little more disturbing than that. Your bed is as dirty as it is because of you. Megan Thoemmes, an author of the research and Ph.D student at North Carolina State University, said in a statement, "We know that human homes are effectively their own ecosystems, and human beds often contain a subset of the taxa—or types—of organisms found in the home. For example, about 35% of bacteria in human beds stem from our own bodies, including fecal, oral, and skin bacteria."
In other words, we’re creating the filth without even realizing it.
How does this relate to where a chimpanzee sleeps? Apparently, a chimp’s bed doesn’t contain the amount of fecal and skin bacteria our beds do because chimps live outside. Chimps sleep in their natural environments, which reduces the amount of bacteria they’re exposed to. The study reported, “It has been suggested that what is missing from many homes are the bacteria and other organisms associated with soils, leaves, and outdoor habitats.”
In other words, our human beds get this dirty because we spend so much of our time indoors, and all of our bacteria (like feces and skin flakes) collects in our homes and in our beds. It doesn’t have anywhere else to go, unlike a chimp’s bacteria. Also, chimps change beds frequently, meaning that there isn’t as much time for the bacteria to build up. Us humans, on the other hand, find a bed and stay in it for years on end, giving the bacteria plenty of time to do its thing.
Unfortunately, it gets worse: there’s not much we can do about this. Unless, of course, you feel like washing your sheets every single day (which doesn’t seem very practical). The good news is that we’ve been living in this filth our entire lives, so we don’t have to worry about too many negative effects. It’s just not that fun to think about when we’re all snuggled up under our dirty blankets and covered in our own bacteria.
Sorry in advance for the nightmares!