Can making your bed really make you a better person?

‘Make your bed’ hogs one of the top spots in most ‘How to be a better version of yourself’ or ‘How to reclaim your life back’ type of lists


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Thu 9 Jun 2022, 5:30 PM

It’s surprising how the simple morning task of making your bed can — reportedly — make you a better person. ‘Make your bed’ hogs one of the top spots in most ‘How to be a better version of yourself’ or ‘How to reclaim your life back’ type of lists, and — again, reportedly — there have been studies conducted on the subject. For instance, if you like making your bed as soon as you get up, it means you are a morning person; and if you don’t like making your bed, you are a night crawler (and therefore don’t care much about sinking into an unmade bed in the dark of the night — you don’t get to see the ungainliness properly).

I hate making beds, it’s just so much of an effort, and I usually end up doing a half-hearted sprucing up (unless I am changing sheets on weekends). And, apparently, that makes me — other than being a night crawler — messy and indisciplined, and in need of a life alteration.

Having said that, the bed-making process fascinates me. Whenever I’m in a hotel — which I admit is not too often — and the housekeeping staff swing by to “tidy up”, I observe their great skills at changing sheets with joyful cadence, and wonder at the felicity with which they tuck in the odds and ends of each fitment to a tee. It’s like watching an orchestra.

Earlier, making the bed would entail straightening the sheets and fluffing the pillows. These days, I see a whole lot of cushions, of varying shapes and sizes, being placed against colour-coordinated pillows. Why make a straightforward chore so complicated by getting in all those extra frills that are purely ornamental? Once, I’d asked a friend if I could place one of her luxe bed cushions under my head, and she had said, “Oh, no no no, I’ll get you an extra pillow, wait…”

“But why have head-resting stuff on the bed which cannot be used?”

“Because they look pretty, silly!”

Every morning, when she makes her bed, she arranges the cushions of many colours carefully, placing them at specific angles. At night, she removes them and stashes them away in a cupboard.

“A bit pointless, no?” I asked.

“It’s in vogue,” she said.

She’s right. I’m always surprised how in the movies or in OTT serials, even if sheer, unadulterated hell is descending on everyone in a given frame, if there’s a bed in the picture — even as a prop — it’s beautifully made, like it’s straight of a high-end interiors’ magazine.

The importance of making your own bed in the morning — only to lie in it at night — was hammered home a few years when (now retired) Naval Admiral William McRaven, (then) commander of US Special Operations in 2014, spoke about its virtues at a commencement speech. It was perhaps the first time that “making your bed” went viral. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” he said. “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.”

“But there’s a big loophole in this make-your-bed-in-the-morning-and-then-be-set-for-the-day logic,” my father remarked when we were discussing bed-making one evening on a conference call. “These guys forget to factor in the afternoon siesta — which I regularly enjoy post-lunch… my bed gets crumpled and I have to reset it. So, does the late-afternoon bed-making enjoy as much credibility as the morning effort?”

Well, I wouldn’t know.

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