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Admiral William H. McRaven once said, in a commencement speech to the University of Texas(often spoken of as the “Make Your Bed” speech), “Do you want to change the world? Start by making your bed everyday.”
I find this act and this positive act on such a simple task to reap great benefits on a person’s mindset. It’s simplistic and yet has tremendous power.
Make Your Bed Speech
This speech has been increasingly popular. There’s a PDF of the speech here online. And of course, there’s the video! If you don’t have time to read or watch now, make time to do so later. But for your busy schedule’s sake- for now- in a nutshell he talks about how the simple action of making your bed can set the day off in the right direction, cultivating a mindset of positivity and order that will carry over into the rest of your life.
Admiral McRaven later went on to write a book focused on the little things that can change your life…and maybe the world. The book provides a lot of wisdom and practical advice in a very positive and easy to read format. I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it.
In the meantime….
Let’s talk about why you should make your bed. And why some people don’t…
Why Do Some People Skip Making The Bed?
I’m sure you know both types of people- maybe even within your own household – those that make the bed every day, and those that leave it in what at least appears to be a crumpled heap.
On the surface, it may appear they are just being lazy and don’t care what their bed looks like. That’s our mindset about it anyway if we are in the camp of people who already make the bed everyday. In truth, these individuals probably just don’t see the purpose and see the act of making their bed a waste of their time when they intend on crawling back in later that night. They simply have not considered the positive reasons for taking the time to make the bed. There are also people that believe it’s necessary to ‘air out’ the bed for reasons of preventing bacteria build up. We’ll touch base on this below.
For now, let’s talk about this: There’s actually evidence to show there are mental health benefits to making your bed every morning.
Reasons To Make Your Bed EVERY MORNING
There really does appear to be some evidence that supports the following reasons to make your bed every morning. For example, one study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation had found participants who made their bed each morning reported feeling more productive, accomplished, and overall happier throughout the day compared to those who did not make their bed. This may be because completing a small task like making your bed can give you a sense of control and accomplishment early in the day, which can set the tone for the rest of the day.
Sense of Accomplishment
The act of completing a small task like making your bed may give you a sense of control and accomplishment early in the day, which can set the tone for the rest of the day. As Admiral McRaven implies in his speech, this general act sets a tone of accomplishment first thing and will encourage other acts of success, which can ultimately change your life AND the world.
Sense of Calm
Having that sense of accomplishment can calm your mind. Also a made bed can give even a ‘messy’ or ‘cluttered’ room an appearance of being tidier. This visual affect can help calm your mind. A tidy bed also may help to calm the mind as you crawl in under the nicely made sheets and blankets.
Fosters Mental Discipline
Mental discipline or self-discipline is regulation of the self for improvement. It is a skill that is developed in overcoming the things that are sometimes small but seen as a ‘chore’ or ‘unnecessary avoidable task’. The act of taking on that task and countering the resistance you naturally feel towards it fosters the ability to continue taking on other such tasks. The more you form the habit of overcoming resistance to one task, the easier it is to do others. In essence, it helps set your mindset for the day and possibly your life.
Having a clean and tidy sleeping environment can help promote calmness or relaxation and better sleep. If you make your bed in the morning, the act of creating this neat and organized sleeping space may help you create that sense of calm in your sleep space. Additionally, the made bed means your sheets and blankets are in place when you go to bed, whereas twisted and bunched up sheets and blankets can disrupt your sleep.
Have trouble sleeping at night? Make your bed in the morning and check out these other posts! Best Foods For Sleep, How Sleep Affects Wellness, Starting Your Wellness Journey and Adaptogens and Their Benefits
While there may not be a ton of scientific evidence to support making your bed, there is a lot of evidence that support living in an organized, clutter-free environment and having more focus and productivity. Making your bed allows your bedroom (home) to start looking more organized and clutter free first thing in the morning.
This is in relation to the organized environment. Studies have shown that living in a tidy environment improves or retains brain function and enhances general quality of life. This is especially true for older people – but why wait until you are ‘older’? This simple act can help my brain function? I’m all in!
Airing Out The Bed/Sheets
Some people leave the sheets pulled back on the bed for the sake of hygiene. There is a study that demonstrated a made bed is more likely to breed germs. The theory here is that an unmade bed discourages breeding germs by letting air and the sun (open curtains in the bedroom) can disrupt what may be a dark and even damp (let’s face it, humans sweat a LOT at night) breeding ground.
My personal take on this? It’s true, we do sweat a lot. And our sheets are full of that sweat residue and dead skin cells and these things do pose a risk for creating a ‘breeding ground’ for germs.
However, one doesn’t have to leave the bed unmade all day to solve this dilemma. Several times a week, allow the sheets to be pulled down to the bottom of the bed, allowing things to air out for an hour or so as you conduct the rest of your morning routine, saving making the bed for last.
Once a week, go ahead and let the sheets air out longer- maybe several hours or half the day if you wish. And then, make the bed!
Another simple solution may be to just change the sheets a bit more often. If you don’t have time to launder them once a week or two, buy an extra pair of sheets for in-between laundering. I love the organic sheets from Target. However, I‘ve really been eyeing this set up on Amazon.
There really does appear to be very good reasons to make your bed every morning. It really may be worth making sure to have MAKE THE BED as part of your morning routine. Try not to look at it as dull drudgery and a waste of time. Look at it, perhaps, as preparing for a productive day and making bedtime all that more pleasurable!
Do you make your bed every morning? Do you have any tricks that help motivate you to do it? How do you balance making your bed with keeping the sheets sanitary or ‘aired out’? What’s one more habit that you think, as Admiral McRaven puts it – can ‘change the world’?