It turns out that badgers, the European ones (Meles meles), are pretty clean animals.
Badgers make their beds with leaves, grass, moss, bracken, flowers, and sometimes crisp packets and garlic skins. On dry and sunny days, they drag their beds out from their home so that the sun and breeze kill parasites and get rid of odours. Once the bedding has aired, they pull it back down into their sett. And they do this with astonishing regularity – almost every ten days, weather permitting.
I have a confession; I’m not as clean as a badger.
Maybe it’s not necessary to change my bedding as often as every ten days. Well, I dug a little into the internet and unearthed some horrid details about our beds.
Our beds are home to dust mites and their poop, bacteria, fungi, pollen and moulds. We add our sweat, dandruff, and dead skin cells to the cauldron of dirt and grime in our beds.
If I didn’t change the sheets in my bed for a year, , it would be 1 kg heavier in dead skin. And in a year, I’d soak my mattress in 98 litres of sweat. Yuck!
Fortunately, I wash my bedding more than once a year. But I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I used to change my bedding every three or four weeks.
Hygiene experts recommend that we wash our bedding at a high temperature once a week, especially so if we’re sleeping naked or don’t take a shower in the evening.
I needed a new habit. A habit that makes me at least as clean as a badger by washing my bedding every 10 days.
Recent research shows that it takes on average 66 days for a habit to form – sometimes up to 180 days. It’s not the 21 days that most people think. But trying to do something for 66 days is challenging, especially if it’s not something you need to do every day – like changing your bedsheets once per week.
I knew it would be tough to remember, even after reading about how disgusting my bed could be. I would climb into bed and remember that I hadn’t changed the sheets. But be too tired to do it. In the morning, I’d forget. And I’d do the same the next evening at bedtime.
I already have a good habit of cleaning our home at the weekend. So I decided to change the bedsheets every Saturday rather than every 10 days like a badger.
Associating new behaviours with stuff I’m already doing has worked before:
- I take a cold shower after a warm shower – part of my discipline training.
- I drink a glass of water after each time I pee – helping me to stay hydrated.
Ok, regularly changing my bedsheets every week isn’t exciting or ground breaking. It’s not going to bring in more clients or more money. But it’s something I can control. And I know that taking action consistently is the path to creating a new habit.
Changing my bedding regularly is training that prepares me to be more regular in other areas of my life. Just like making sure my shoes are neatly arranged in the hallway helps me to feel more organised in life. Tidy shoes. Tidy mind.
Do you have a habit you want to change or eliminate? Do you want to replace that habit with new behaviour? Instead of fighting the good ol’ fight, many of us are used to, try associating your target behaviour with another behaviour that you are already doing.