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Common health problems such as back ache, shortness of breath and chronic rhinitis (runny nose) may be traced back to old mattresses and bedding

New study of old mattress samples highlights the bacteria, yeasts and moulds that you may be sharing your bed with

Dreams recommends a five-step ‘bedroom health check list’

A scientific study analysing samples of eight year old mattresses has highlighted the variety of bacteria, yeasts and moulds that thrive in the material.  Far from being just an unpleasant thought, these microscopic particles can provoke allergies, cause infections and exacerbate existing lung conditions.  The study, commissioned by bed specialist, Dreams, was carried out under direction from University Professor and environmental hygiene expert, Dr Lisa Ackerley.

Dr Ackerley said of the study: “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.”

She 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 anti-biotic resistant, including MRSA.”

A quarter of us feel we are not getting enough sleep, and nearly two in five find themselves waking up twice or more during the night due to pain or discomfort according to national Omnibus research from Dreams.

Long-term, a lack of sleep will also cause irritability and mood swings through to more serious mental health problems including depression and anxiety.  Sleep deprivation can also trigger high blood pressure and obesity, both contributing factors to type 2 Diabetes.  According to the UK Sleep Council, those who frequently get fewer than six hours per night are at significantly increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

Lisa Bond, marketing director at Dreams, said: “We always knew the optimal time to replace a mattress is after eight years but this research has surprised us.  Many of us sleep on an old mattress and have no idea what we may be sharing our bed with.”




Following the findings of this study, Dreams has created a simple five step health check that people can follow to improve the health of their bed – and their sleep hygiene.


Dreams Bedroom Health Check List

Keep your bedroom well ventilated and open windows when possible.  You can also leave the duvet pulled back for a few hours after waking, allowing the bed to cool faster.  This will restrict the growth of moulds and yeasts – not just in the mattress but around the windows

Put pillow cases, sheets and covers on to a hot wash as higher temperatures are required to kill germs and dust mites – ideally 60°C plus.  Including a laundry additive will also help to kill bacteria and viruses

Replace your mattress every eight years to ensure that it remains fit for purpose – supportive and comfortable, without a build-up of potentially harmful microbes

Using a mattress protector will help to reduce the amount of material absorbed by the mattress.  You can wash this regularly, but of course you can’t wash your mattress

Carry out a simple bed frame check at least twice per year.  Look for any loose fittings or broken slats as this may affect how the mattress sits on the bed


Many studies have examined the link between our perceived age and our biological age.  A wide range of problems commonly associated with aging, such as aches and pains through to a case of regular sniffles (chronic rhinitis) could actually be caused by your bed.

Dr Ackerley has constructed a table of common medical conditions (often associated with age) and possible bed related causes below


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