How to Sleep Better During High Air Pollution Days
Increasing air pollution is not just making the headlines but is also adversely affecting people’s health. Air pollution is known to affect the heart, lungs, and the brain. But, air pollution is also bad news for people with sleep-related disorders, especially sleep apnea. So how do you sleep better during these high air pollution days?
Air Pollution Increases the Risk of Sleep Apnea
Researchers have found a link between air pollution and sleep disorders. In their study entitled Annals of American Thoracic Society, they have found that two common pollutants, namely PM2.5 (particulate matter of size 2.5 micrometers in diameter) and nitrogen dioxide, can cause obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is caused by blocked upper airways which restrict the flow of oxygen into the body. While this blockage is caused by over-relaxation of the upper airway muscles, it is worsened by air particulate matter. These pollutants are ten times smaller than dust and pollen that are usually 10 micrometers in diameter.
The study further reveals that other risk factors like body mass index, high blood pressure, diabetes, and so forth remaining constant, people who are exposed to these pollutants are at the risk of sleep apnea. Therefore, if you live in an area which is near a power plant, industries, high traffic, or agricultural fires, you are at a greater risk of experiencing or developing sleep apnea.
Air Pollution Affects Sleep and Mood
Air pollution can damage the mucous membranes of the throat and nose, causing nasal congestion and multiplying the risk of sleep apnea manifold. Pollutants also cause irritation and swelling in the upper airway. This can worsen sleep apnea and cause greater discomfort to sleep apnea patients.
It’s proven that air pollution causes a drop in cognitive performance. Apart from aggravating health issues, air pollution affects people's emotional balance, which reflects in their moods. People exposed to higher levels of pollution experience mood swings, low concentration, and memory lapses. The effect of air pollution on moods is markedly seen as people tend to worry about the ensuing health hazards, which reflects in their sullen moods.
Further, to make matters worse, people living in high pollution areas who are used to smoking or vaping are at greater risk of not just sleep disorders but also cardio-vascular disorders and lung cancer.
Tips for a Better Sleep
To ensure you get a good night's sleep during high pollution days, consider the following:
Move to a cleaner area: As mentioned before, people living near industries, power plants and high traffic areas are more affected by air pollution. If possible, consider shifting to a cleaner place farther from such industrial activity, where particulate matter in the air is lesser.
Use masks: It is a common practice to use air-filtering masks to protect from air pollution. Use a mask whenever you move out of the house. This will lessen the effect of air pollution on the upper airway, and nasal and throat membranes.
Keep your bedroom clean: Remove the sources of pollutants from your room. Follow a basic cleaning regime like dusting every day. Change your bed linen every 2-3 days and clean the room using a vacuum cleaner at least twice a week. Also clean the mattresses and carpets at regular intervals.
Use an air purifier: Although, air purifiers do not guarantee improved health, they are known to be effective in filtering particulate matter from the air inside the house.
Get plants: Some indoor plants such as peace lily and English ivy are known to clean the pollutants and organic chemicals from the air. Plants not only clean the indoor air but also add to the aesthetics.
Go eco-friendly: Use organic products that emit lesser VOC and are biodegradable.
It may not be possible for us to control the factors that cause or exacerbate air pollution. But, we can certainly follow the tips above to ensure a good night's sleep even when air pollution is high.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea but haven’t started treatment yet, it’s high time to get to it. CPAP therapy is a non invasive and effective way to manage sleep apnea, and will bring you much relief amidst the current air pollution. Take ReMed’s 15-day CPAP Trial to experience how CPAP can help.