The Better Sleep Council recommends replacing your mattress every seven to 10 years. But that frequency is accounting for comfort and support, not the debris you’re leaving between the springs each night.

Yep, put down whatever you might be eating, people, this revelation is pretty gross.

New York University microbiologist Philip Tierno told Business Insider that microscopic life forms make themselves at home in our mattresses, and they could be affecting our health.  

“When you’re in the bed you desquamate, or you slough off tissue, And all that cellular debris collects between your sheet and the sheet over the mattress. That serves as food for dust mites. They eat human tissue. And they defecate and excrete substances and then they die. And that’s part of the allergens that collect. In addition you have bodily secretions of all types,” Tierno told the publication.

He says that some of these substances can trigger chronic sinus problems, asthma-like symptoms and eczema in people with existing allergies.

Instead of setting your bedding on fire immediately (which you’re no doubt tempted to do) Tierno recommends investing in a waterproof protector (like this one you can buy here) to block what lies beneath and extend the life of your mattress.

“Without one of these covers, it’s impossible to say how long you can go without replacing your mattress,” Tierno said. “There’s no question that every year this debris collects.”

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