Air pollution’s well-documented effects on the body also extend to sleep quality. Research conducted over the past decade shows a strong connection between indoor air quality and sleep apnea. The good news: this problem is correctable.
Sleep apnea and other sleep-disordered breathing conditions affect two in ten adults. About 80 percent of cases are undiagnosed. People with sleep apnea experience muscle relaxation that blocks the airway, causing them to briefly stop breathing. This occurs many times each night, resulting in poor sleep quality.
Scientists have identified many causes of sleep apnea, including obesity, late-night alcohol use, aging, and use of sedatives. Researchers are now adding indoor air pollution to the list.
Indoor Air Pollution and Sleep Disturbance
A landmark 2010 study showed how air pollution decreases blood oxygen levels, a process that disturbs sleep. Further studies demonstrate a link between indoor pollutants and shallow or interrupted breathing. The research shows that even a small amount of particulate in the air increases the risk of sleep apnea and shallow breathing by 60 percent.
Improving Indoor Air Quality for Better Sleep
Whether cleaning the air in your bedroom resolves sleep apnea is still up for debate, but it can’t hurt. Breathe better at night with these tips from the American Sleep Association:
- Avoid candles, wax melts, or plug-in air fresheners. They might make your home smell pleasant, but they add particulates and chemicals to the air. Opt for air-cleaning potted plants.
- Turn on your air conditioner. A central system keeps air dry, fresh, and free of outdoor pollutants. Remember to change the filter and clean air ducts regularly.
- If you don’t have an AC system, a whole-house HEPA filter is also effective at cleaning the air.
- Air purifiers are effective at removing pollen, mold, bacteria, and dust from the air in smaller spaces like bedrooms.
- Ban cigarette smoking in your home. Its carcinogenic chemicals and other irritants are among the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution.
- Keep your flooring clean. Hardwood and tile are easier to dust than carpeting. If you cannot remove carpeting, vacuum with a HEPA-filter attachment or bag at least twice a week.
Let our sleep apnea team know if making these changes improves your nighttime breathing. If you continue to experience sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring, gasping for breath, and insomnia, contact Glen Burnie sleep apnea dentist for a sleep evaluation.