A couple of years ago US Admiral William M McRaven in his graduation speech to the University of Texas extolled, among other things, the virtues of making your bed every morning.
He recalled that when he was training to be a Navy SEAL in the late 1970s, making your bed every morning was absolutely critical if you wanted to become a lean, mean killing machine. He should know, he organised the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
I understand that Osama’s bed was an absolute mess, especially after it was machine-gunned with him on it, so what chance did he have?
”If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centred just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack – that’s Navy talk for bed,” Admiral McRaven said.
Don’t they have a wonderful sense of humour in the US Navy?
“Rack” is also the term for that quaint torture device much favoured during the Spanish Inquisition which stretched some poor soul’s body until his bones cracked and he was left in excruciating agony. Then again, I understand in American slang, a “rack” refers to a lady’s busty substances as in “That’s a nice rack” so, perhaps, it reflected the secret dreams of the then all-male trainees.
I am convinced that Admiral McRaven took lessons from my mummy.
Consider this from his speech: “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”
Mummy absolutely insisted that my brother and I make our beds every morning. The trouble is, I discovered, that I was so exhausted at the end of that domestic chore that I needed a restorative little lie down which meant the process had to start all over again. Even as a kiddy, I believed that the right amount of sleep was at least five minutes more.
At one stage when I was a grown-up and got a new bed which I named, “The Laurels” because I always liked resting on it. Yes, I might have been congenitally lazy but I comforted myself by believing that I was clever.
Can you imagine how much poorer we would be as a civilisation if, for example, Einstein paused to make his bed instead of writing down the Theory of Relativity which had come to him in a dream? Frankly, we would be still living in caves, albeit neat and tidy caves with lovely made-up beds.
Now, I am delighted to report, scientists at least as bright as Einstein, have come up with some wonderful reasons not to make your bed. They have discovered that there are as many as 1.5 million microscopic mites crawling around in your bed feasting off the skin cells you shed while you sleep.
If you sleep with somebody, presumably that’s double the number of little creepy crawlies. However big your bed, it means it is really crowded.
If you follow the advice of Admiral McRaven, and my mummy, if you make your bed immediately, all the dead skin cells, sweat, mites and their droppings which can cause asthma and assorted allergies will be trapped underneath An unmade bed will expose these nasties to fresh air and light and they will die from dehydration or just lose interest.
I’ve waited a long, long time to be able to say that I don’t make the bed for health reasons but it has been worth the wait. That’s one of the lovely things about scientists – they are always coming up with theories which disprove earlier theories.
Some outfit called Hunch.com did a survey of 68,000 people and found that 59% didn’t make their beds, 27% did and 12% paid somebody to do it. Don’t ask me what the other 2% did – maybe they slept on the floor or the couch.
And 71% of bed-makers considered themselves happy, were more likely to love their jobs, own their homes, exercise regularly and feel well-rested. I consider 100% of them to be smug, self-satisfied prigs.
Of the non-bed-makers, 62% considered themselves unhappy, rented rather than owned, avoided the gym and woke up tired. Maybe they were just intimidated by the Hunch.com survey takers.
I didn’t make the bed this morning but wrote this instead. This will live on forever in some far reach of the internet while nobody will care one bit about the state of my bed today.
I’m a high achiever, to be sure.