Yes, we know. It sounds too good to be true! After all, positive change rarely happens in one sudden swoop. There’s no magic switch or secret trick. We have to do the work of developing small healthy habits that we carry out earnestly and consistently.
But according to experts, there is one small habit that can make a huge difference.
Make your bed.
In a 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas, U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McCraven, told the audience that if you wanted to change the world, you had to start by making your bed.
“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. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
It makes sense if you think about it. Our mornings set the course for the rest of the day. Starting them with one doable task reassures us that we are capable of doing even more.
But there are other reasons too.
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg says making the bed is a major “keystone” habit. A keystone habit is one that inspires us to carry through on other habits. It starts a chain reaction of good behaviors. He writes, “[M]aking your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.”
In her book, The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin delved into the all the ways people could boost their sense of wellbeing. Making the bed was a major theme. She says, “When I was researching my book on happiness, this was the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over.”
A 2011 sleep survey found that people sleep much better when their rooms are tidy and clean. Participants who made their bed were 19% more likely to report that they get a good night’s sleep every night. As many of us know, rest makes all the difference in quality of life. Sleep is the key to improved moods, better health, and lowered stress.
So give it a try! No need to make the bed perfect, just neat and presentable. At the very least, you’ll feel content tucking yourself into smooth sheets and fluffed pillows at the end of the day.