You may have been wondering why you have not been sleeping well. This recent study shows that a significant contributor could be the air you are breathing in your own home. Even if you believe the air quality in your home to be "good" studies show indoor air quality can be up to five times worse than outdoor air quality.
There have been a lot of studies into air quality and health and the link is clear, air quality can affect your health. But up until now the broader impacts on healthy living (e.g. sleep) have not been scientifically evidenced. This recent study conducted by researchers with a substantial number of participants found that there was a clear correlation between poor sleep and air quality.
Thanks to technological advancement and miniaturization, there is a new device, just recently available that can help you monitor air quality without you buying a dedicated monitor - the i-BLADES Smartcase, see later in this blog.
Prior studies have shown that air pollution impacts heart health and affects breathing and lung function, but less is known about whether air pollution affects sleep,” said lead author Martha E. Billings, MD, MSc, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington. “We thought an effect was likely given that air pollution causes upper airway irritation, swelling and congestion, and may also affect the central nervous system and brain areas that control breathing patterns and sleep.”
The study drew on data over a five year period from 1,863 participants capturing levels of the most common air pollutants - nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Using MESA Air and Environmental Protection Agency monitoring sites along with sophisticated statistical tools, the research team was able to estimate air pollution exposures at each participant’s home over the five year time period. This was then correlated to "sleep efficiency" - the percentage of time in bed spent awake vs asleep. Sleep efficiency was measured using medical-grade wearable devices tracking fine movements while they slept.
In grouping the participants by sleep efficiency they found that the bottom quarter had a sleep efficiency of 88%. Meaning that they spent 12% of the time "awake". Then analyzing the impacts of air pollutants in the home the study found that the worst sleep efficiency was for those exposed to higher levels of Nitrogen Dioxide. The chance of having a poor nights sleep increased by 60% for this group and those exposed to particulate matter had an increase in chance of poor sleep by 50%.
Roy Harrison, professor of environmental health at the University of Birmingham, commented, “Previous research has shown associations between nitrogen dioxide exposures and effects upon various physiological and biochemical functions in the body, as well as hospital admissions and mortality. It should therefore come as no surprise that such exposures also affect sleep patterns.”
Dr. Billings leading the study said, "Improving air quality may be one way to enhance sleep health and perhaps reduce health disparities”.
This along with other scientific research points to the increasing importance that we should begin to monitor air quality in our homes.
There are two key factors you should take into account when looking for a way to measure indoor air quality:
The i-BLADES Smartcase just recently available has combined utility with technology to offer the most convenient option available for indoor air quality monitoring, as well as general air quality monitoring. As it is a phone case it is naturally something you take everywhere you go, because it protects your smartphone.
However, at the same time it measures and alerts you to the air quality around you.
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