Brain Candy

Every day life explained with science.

Make Your Bed, Change Your Life?

Bed makers are happier and more successful than those who don't. Here's why.

Every morning, as a kid, I made my bed. Why? Because my mom told me to, and I was living under her roof. As soon as I got to college, though, I chucked this tidy habit out the window. I haven’t made my bed ever since (except, of course, when company’s over).

Recently while visiting my mother, I heard her say it again: “You should make the bed,” she said. At first I blew it off. I even went so far as to paint my slothful behavior as a symptom of a busy life, quipping, “People who make their bed have too much time on their hands.” But deep down I knew that laziness—not busy-ness—was to blame, and this bothered me.

Curious whether my reluctance to make the bed hints at bigger issues, I Googled “who makes their bed?” and found I had plenty of company. In a survey of 68,000 people by Hunch.com, 59 percent of people don’t make their beds. 27 percent do, while 12 percent pay a housekeeper to make it for them. Here’s what disturbed me: 71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy. Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired. All in all, bed makers are happier and more successful than their rumple-sheeted peers.

Since these factors show correlation but not causation, this does not mean that non-bed-makers can’t be happy and successful, but the odds are stacked against them. And it makes sense, since an organized environment can positively impact our mental state—and given it only takes 30 seconds, it could lend a small sense of accomplishment at the very start of the day. So maybe I’ll try it. My mom would be proud.

Judy Dutton writes about the quirkier, conversation-worthy discoveries coming out of laboratories today. She's the author of Secrets from the Sex Lab and Science Fair Season.

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