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Brits losing sleep over bed bugs

19th March 2010 Print

Figures released today show that, despite spending a third of our lives in bed, most Brits change their pillows so infrequently that 70 per cent of our bedding is filled with excrement from thousands of dust mites*.

If a pillow is left uncleaned for just two years, as much as one tenth of its weight can be made up of dead skin cells, bacteria and dust mites. 65 per cent of those surveyed do not use protective cases and covers to limit the spread of germs and bacteria; they are also blissfully unaware of the harmful and unhygienic state of their duvets, pillows and mattresses.

The survey, which questioned 2,131 people and was conducted by the Sound Asleep Pillow, reveals that 43 per cent of people buy new pillows or duvets only once a decade – despite the general advice being to replace pillows once a year and a mattress every seven years. The most common reasons for not buying pillows or quilts more regularly are simply being unaware that they need replacing and being oblivious to the large number of mites living in bedding.

People from the North East were revealed to have the most bug-ridden bedding, with 69 per cent only buying new pillows and duvets once every ten years and rarely flipping their mattresses. People from the South West seem to be more hygienically aware with 78 per cent buying new pillows and duvets every five years. 65 per cent of them also consider their bedrooms to be the most important room in the house to keep clean.

The survey, which was conducted to coincide with the Sleep Council’s ‘National Bed Month’, also revealed that 41 per cent of men keep their car cleaner than their bedding, while 65 per cent of women believe that their clothes should be top of their cleanliness pecking order.

Jessica Alexander from The Sleep Council said: “The environment we sleep in is crucial to the quality of sleep we get. We’d never cook in a dirty kitchen so why sleep in bacteria and bug infested bedding? Sleep is such an important factor in our lives and as a nation we aren’t focussing enough effort on achieving the best quality of sleep.”

Although men are less likely to be concerned about the hygiene of their bedding, 38 per cent have attempted to wash a duvet or pillow in a household washing machine. Women, on the other hand, are more aware of the dirt which accumulates in pillows and duvets. However, 55 per cent neglect to take them to be professionally cleaned because of the cost and the hassle of being without their bedding for a few days.

Young people, whilst being the least likely to worry about the condition of their duvets and pillows, are most likely to have replaced their bedding within the recommended expiry date. The survey found that most young people purchase new bedding when they go to university, move house or get married.

Jamie Moryoussef, director of Sound Asleep, said: “We’re pretty shocked by these findings. People should be more aware of what can accumulate in their bedding if it is left unwashed or is too old. We’re hoping this survey will highlight the need to get rid of dust mites and reduce allergy symptoms by replacing old bedding or mattresses. People are more likely to have a healthier and better night’s sleep if their bedroom environment is more hygienic.”

The Sound Asleep Pillow is an innovative design that incorporates an undetectable speaker which allows snoozers to listen to recordings of their choice through their MP3 or radio devices without the inconvenience of headphones.

Keep your bedding fresh and clean - tips from the Sound Asleep team:

• To kill off dust mites, wash your bed sheets in hot water every week.

• Follow washing instructions on pillows and try to wash them every few months. If hot washing is not possible, 24 hours in the freezer will kill all the dust mites in a pillow.

• Washing pillows and duvets regularly does reduce allergen and mite levels but it’s also important to prevent them from returning. Ensure you use protectors or anti-allergenic bedding, which prevent any remaining mites or allergens from escaping.

• For continuous maintenance and protection, always air the bed during the day, leave the windows open if possible and replace mattresses, duvets and pillows that are over 7 years old.

• Most dust mites in the house live in your mattress – this is as an ideal environment for mites as it provides both warmth and moisture from body heat and perspiration. Try vacuuming your mattress with a heap vacuum filter to reduce allergen levels.

* According to