17.2.10

MESSY

Oh, I can't get on with the day unless my
bed is made up army style! But it seems
failing to sort out your sleeping area
in the morning may actually help
keep you healthy.

While messy bedrooms and unwashed sheets are
the stuff of nightmares for most parents of
teenagers, research suggests that an unmade
bed is unappealing to house dust mites
thought to cause asthma
and other allergies.

A Kingston University study discovered the
bugs cannot survive in the warm, dry
conditions found in an unmade bed. The
average bed could be home to up to
1.5 million house dust mites.

The bugs, which are less than a millimetre long,
feed on scales of human skin and produce allergens
which are easily inhaled during sleep. The warm,
damp conditions created in an occupied bed
are ideal for the creatures, but they are
less likely to thrive when moisture
is in shorter supply.

The scientists developed a computer model
to track how changes in the home
can reduce numbers of
dust mites in beds.


Researcher Dr Stephen Pretlove said: "We know
that mites can only survive by taking in water
from the atmosphere using small glands on
the outside of their body. Something as
simple as leaving a bed unmade during
the day can remove moisture from the
sheets and mattress so the mites will
dehydrate and eventually die."


In the next stage of their research, the scientists are
putting mite pockets into beds in 36 houses around
the United Kingdom to test their computer
model and will investigate how people's daily
routines affect mite populations. Building
features such as heating, ventilation and
insulation will also be altered to
monitor how the mites cope.


Dr Pretlove said the research had the potential
to reduce the £700m spent treating
mite-induced illnesses
each year in the UK.


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