The quality of your sleep depends not only on your established daily routine but also on the environmental factors such as noise, light and air quality. It makes sense, intuitively, that air would have some impact – after all, all we do all night is breathe.
Indeed, science confirms that intuition. A number of studies over the recent years show just how much poor air quality can affect your sleep and, consequently, your performance and health.
Poor air quality wrecks your sleep
One study found that bedroom air quality significantly affects sleep and next‐day performance (ability to concentrate and perform logical thinking), and has shown that increasing the supply of clean outdoor air can improve that.
Another study, presented at the American Thoracic Society’s annual conference, revealed that chronic exposure to air pollution over time can have a significant negative impact on your sleep. The researchers analayzed data from 1,863 participants living in six US cities over five years, and found that people with chronic exposure to nitrogen dioxide and small particulates known as PM 2.5s had a 50 per cent greater chance to have poor sleep quality.
“Your nose, your sinuses and the back of your throat can all be irritated by those pollutants so that can cause some sleep disruption,” said Dr Martha Billings, a co-author of the study, speaking to the Guardian. According to the Dr Billings, pollutants may also enter the blood and affect the central nervous system and brain areas that control breathing patterns.
Air pollution is also linked to sleep apnea, asthma, allergies and similar conditions.
How do you know if your air quality is bad?
There are, of course, special devices that can measure your air quality for you, but the best way to know is to simply see how you feel while you sleep and how rested you feel after waking up.
How to keep your air clean
Luckily, air quality in your home is something you have quite a bit of control over. Here are some ways to improve your air quality to get a better sleep:
- Keep humidity at 30%-50% to deter moisture-loving dust mites, mold and other allergens. A dehumidifier should help you with that.
- Vacuum twice a week (don’t forget upholstery and carpet edges), and mop up the dust that the vacuum leaves behind.
- Avoid synthetic fragrances in laundry products and air fresheners. They may smell good but emit harmful chemicals into the air.
- Bring some greenery indoors. Plants are natural air purifiers.
- Open your windows to let some fresh air in.
- If someone in your family has pollen allergies, then use a filtered air-conditioning system to keep the air fresh.
- Use an air cleaning device in your bedroom.
Most importantly remember, that small changes you make now will improve your sleep and, therefore, affect your health years down the road.