Unclean beds harbour bacteria and fungi

November 5th, 2015 Category: Local Authority & Housing

Our beds may be one of the main causes of ill-health, a report has suggested.

A new scientific study has found that many Brits are sleeping on beds full of  bacteria, yeasts and moulds that thrive in the mattresses we sleep upon.

This is helping to lead to a spike in the number of allergies and infections and can also help to make existing illnesses worse.

Samples were taken at different depths; from the mattress exterior to the base layer and it found that householders may unwittingly be sleeping upon an array of different types of toxins and bacteria.

Bacteria such as Enterobacteriaceae, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus were found, while yeasts and moulds such as Cladosporium such as Aspergillus & Saprophytic lurked deep within many mattresses.

The findings were commissioned by the bed manufacturer dreams and conducted under the supervision of university professor and environmental hygiene expert, Dr Lisa Ackerley.

Commenting on the findings, she said: "Most people would be rather surprised by the things you can find in an old mattress. Mould spores and bacteria build up over the years and although invisible, you could be breathing in these harmful spores at night. 

"Due to the amount of human contact with the average mattress, it’s inevitable that microbes and unwanted guests will develop over time. People tend to focus on cleaning the things they can see – pillows and sheets, but the mattress itself can be a ‘hot bed’ of potential illness.”
The study also suggests that if someone who is quite ill uses the bed, their germs could potentially remain in the deeper layers and serve to infect subsequent users.

The conditions of our beds could also have a negative impact on our sleeping patterns, leading to psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.

This may then affect our physical health even further, and exacerbate conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure and mood swings.

Ms Ackerley added: "Finding bacteria such as E. coli indicates the presence of faecal contamination, which shows that if someone was carrying an infectious disease, it could be passed on to someone else sharing the bed, or using the bed at another time. Some Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can cause skin infections and there are strains that are antibiotic resistant, including MRSA.”

The report suggested that in order to reduce the spread of germs, rooms should be well-ventilated, as nasties such as bacteria thrive in warm or humid conditions.

It will also help to restrict the growth of moulds and yeasts – not just in the mattress but around the windows themselves.

Using a mattress protector and checking the bed frame regularly were among the other suggestions.

Of course, another way to cut down on the spread of bacteria in any environment is to ensure it is cleaned regularly.