Toenail clippings and pizza crumbs: Why the nation's bad bed habits are a jamboree for germs

·5-min read
One in 10 people admit to cutting their toe nails in bed. (Getty Images)
One in 10 people admit to cutting their toe nails in bed. (Getty Images)

You might think you have your hygiene routine down pat - but it turns out our bedtime habits are actually pretty gross, and they could be putting us at risk of all sorts of nasties. 

From cutting our toe nails in bed to picking the dead skin off our feet, recent research from MattressNextDay has revealed some grim discoveries about our pre-bed habits. 

The survey of 1,000 Brits revealed that more than one in 10 cut their toe nails in bed, while one in 14 pick the dead skin off their feet. 

Other habits include the one in 9 Brits who admit to washing the bedsheets they've slept in whilst being ill alongside other items, while one in 12 have discarded a wet towel on their bed.

But as well as being pretty unsavoury, our daily bedroom hygiene routine (or lack of) could be exposing us to some pretty unpleasant health risks including fungal infections and allergies. 

Read more: The end of the office tea round? 'Gross' workplace habits UK employees want banned

Eating takeaways in bed can attract pests. (Getty Images)
Eating takeaways in bed can attract pests. (Getty Images)

Picking dead skin

While 7% of the adults surveyed said they have picked the dead skin from their feet in bed, Dr Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy say this could cause health problems as dust mites love dead skin. 

“House dust mites, and bed bugs, feed on dead skin cells," she explains. "They then produce droppings which are an irritant to the skin, and are a common cause of allergy, resulting in skin rashes, eczema, and asthma.”

Instead, Dr Lee suggests treating your feet after a long soak or shower, remembering to wash in between your toes. 

"Be sure to also dry your feet completely - especially between your toes - as this will lessen any problems from athlete’s foot or bacteria," she adds. 

Clipping toenails

Cutting your toe nails in bed could lead to similar health woes. 

“If you don’t want yellow toenails, don’t cut your toenails in bed as fungal infections thrive in warm, moist environments – such as the bed,” Dr Lee explains.

If you can't resist the lure of a quick nail clip in the sack, Dr Lee advises you ensure you gather all of your nail clippings, but suggests that the best time to cut your nails is after a bath or shower as that will soften your nails. 

Watch: The surprising number of mornings people wake up on the wrong side of the bed. 

Dirty sheets

When it comes to washing dirty bed sheets you've slept in while ill, Dr Lee recommends you separate the linen from other household items. 

“Sweating, coughing, blowing your nose, sickness or diarrhoea – whatever the illness – if you are hopping in and out of bed, your sheets, pillows and duvet cover will be covered with bacteria, viruses, and cell debris. This is a breeding ground for further infections," she says.

Dr Lee recommends separating your bedsheets and any clothes you’ve worn whilst ill before washing at least 60°C.

“Bedding should be washed at the highest temperature possible. This should be at least 60°C or above, especially if you have been infected with COVID-19,” she adds. 

Sleeping in clothes

An exhausted 14% of Brits also admitted to sleeping in their clothes they have worn all day, and while this could be a sign of burnout, it’s important you take the time to change out of your outdoor, daytime clothes as research suggests bacteria and germs can survive on your clothes for months.

“When you sleep, the temperature in the bed increases, making this an ideal breeding ground for whatever is on your clothes," Dr Lee adds. "Sleeping in a clean pair of PJs is definitely recommended.”

Read more: Have you got BNB (Busy Night Brain)? Here's how to reclaim sleep

Leaving wet towels on the bed can lead to mould. (Getty Images)
Leaving wet towels on the bed can lead to mould. (Getty Images)

Wet towels

Apart from the inconvenience of getting into soggy sheets, leaving wet towels on the bed can also cause health problems. 

According to Dr Lee moist environments encourage mould. "If you are leaving damp towels and, therefore, damp bedding, mould can grow and release spores. If you have asthma, you are likely more sensitive to these spores which can trigger your symptoms or make them worse," she says. 

Instead, hang your towel outside to dry or pop it in the tumble dryer. If you have to dry them inside, make sure the room is well ventilated to avoid encouraging mould growth.

Read more: Allergies keeping you awake? Here are the secrets of a sneeze-free sleep

Eating in bed

While we're all guilty of nibbling the odd biscuit in bed, one in seven of us actually chow down on an entire takeaway in the sack. 

However, pizza boxes, leftover takeaway chicken, and the like can attract flies, ants or even cockroaches

Turns out eating in bed can also affect your health. "If you eat late at night and then lie down to sleep, you are at increased risk of acid reflux,” explains Dr Lee. 

"Not only that but your body needs to know that when you enter the bedroom and get into bed, it’s time for sleep.”

Watch: Coffee before bedtime interferes with sleep. 

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