I Made My Bed Every Day For a Month to See If the Hype Was Legit
About a year ago, one of my favorite trainers was gushing about a book called Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life (And Maybe the World). She went on and on about (as Marie Kondo would put it) "the life changing magic" of making your bed.
A few months later, I heard another friend talk about how making their bed was the most fundamental part of their self-care routine. "The f*ck?" I exasperatedly wondered to myself. "That sounds absurd." I don't know what about it aggravated me in particular, but I wasn't buying it.
It wasn't until I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg that I decided to be more diligent about the arrangement of my sheets and pillows. For the record: my bed was probably loosely made 60 to 70 percent of the time, properly made 15 percent of the time, and a back-up hamper/laundry bin the other 15 percent of the time. So I had a decently made bed for the majority, but I wasn't on my A game day in and day out. Lots of room for improvement.
I figured maybe it was time to at least try to be more consistent. Perhaps I really could channel my own Marie Kondo and make my room look like a subtly tropical, millennial pink CB2 catalog.
Let's just start with the admission: I was a hater, and I was wrong. There is something oddly powerful and transformative about this tiny, organizational tweak, and at last I see the light. Here's what happened when I decided to take the leap of faith and put in even the most bare minimum of effort.
You know how your healthy friends are always saying things like "I didn't know I was feeling bad until I stopped [eating fast food, drinking tequila every day, bathing in dairy, etc.], and now I feel so much better"? It was like that for me and the tidy, tucked sheets of my daily-made bed.
I didn't realize how the slightest bit of disheveled linens and throw pillows could impact how I felt — not just about the organization and cleanliness of my room. When my bed wasn't made, my mood, energy levels, and overall mental health seemed to decline slightly — and when it was, I noticed a subtle but significant shift toward feeling better.
Do you ever walk into a messy house or room and think "MY LIFE IS OUT OF CONTROL" or "I AM A DISASTER!" when really the only thing that's off is the mess? That was me. Making the bed gave me a baseline sense of control over my life; it sounds silly, but it helped me channel some of my inner power, which bled into other areas of life, work, etc.
It Impacted Other Good, Healthy Habits
When my bed was tidy, I wanted the rest of the room to match it, so everything else was kept cleaner. Also, after making my bed, I felt like I was more on top of my sh*t — which prompted me to remember to take my probiotic, get the dog out for a brisk, fresh 30-minute walk (great for me, too!), and eat something healthy before tackling the day's challenges.
It's a common adage that one good choice begets another, and it's really true. I learned this extensively through that book I read (The Power of Habit — highly recommend) and learned it IRL when I tried it myself. Starting small with one task like making the bed allowed me to have that sense of victory, which in a funny way was an empowering self-esteem boost that I channeled into even more good habits.
My Room Became More of an Oasis
Is my room like a suite at the Four Seasons? No (not yet, at least), but I love it so much more now, and it feels like a peaceful respite versus "the room I sleep in." I feel more relaxed, and I can come into my room if I feel a twinge of anxiety or stress to decompress, disconnect, diffuse my essential oils, snuggle my puppy, meditate, and read.
Of course, I could do those things before the bed was made, but it actually is *so* much better when the bed is made and the room is tidy; I was able to really see this firsthand by committing to a full month of bed-making.
I Sleep Better?!
OK, maybe this is placebo (but even still, righteous): I'm somehow sleeping better, more deeply, and more comfortably. Getting into a tidy bed somehow made it easier to slip into a deep, restorative slumber. I did a little digging to see if there's any science to back this and found a couple things that are correlated:
- The American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that hoarders don't sleep well. The author reported that cluttered and unusable bedrooms increased risk of cognitive dysfunction, depression, stress, and worsened sleep quality. Obviously, I'm not a hoarder (that's a real disorder), but the findings show that a messy bed may be linked to low-quality (or lack of) zzz's.
- A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that among the 1,500 participants, "respondents who say they make their bed every day are 19 percent more likely to say they get a good night's sleep every night than those who don't."
Obviously, we're not working with clinical research that solidifies making beds definitely guarantees better sleep, but hey, there's no harm in trying. It definitely worked for me.