I am not talking about the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I am talking about the quality of the air in your bedroom. The bedroom is the place you will spend the most time in your life. Do you find yourself waking up stuffy or congested or tired even though you slept all night? Striving to have the highest quality air to breath while sleeping for 7-8 hours can have some very beneficial positives to your health and sleep quality.
The Why: The area you spend the most time in will have the biggest effect on you, due to the amount of time you are exposed to it. There are reports that indoor air quality can be up to 10 times worse than outdoor air quality. This is due to indoor air being trapped and allowing pollutants and allergens to build up to higher concentrations than outside air.
Air pollution can make its way into your brain as well as your lungs. When you breathe in molecules of a certain size they can bypass the blood brain barrier and slip right into your brain.
I know you are probably thinking that can’t be. My house smells clean. Smells can be deceiving. Let’s imagine you could see all the air pollution that is circulating in your house.
You start off by seeing the floating particles in the air of pollen, dander, and dust. Then looking deeper you can see the mold spores, bacteria, and viruses floating in the air. Yummy!! The third layer of our air quality cake is the volatile organic compounds or VOCs. These are nasty. They come from furniture, mattresses, paint, household cleaners, fragrance plug ins, plastics, and other industrial products. Many furniture items are treated with flame retardants which off gas, meaning they release chemicals into the air. Side effects of these VOCs can be headaches, irritated respiratory system, and hormone disruption.
So how confident do you feel about your air quality now?
How does this impact your sleep though?
In the case of mold, pollen, dust, and dander they can trigger allergies. With allergies comes stuffy nose, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing. Your body is having a histamine response which causes inflammation within the body. Histamine is also a stimulant. This is one reason Benadryl knocks you out. It is an antihistamine. When your body is inflamed, energy is being diverted to battle the irritant, taking away energy devoted to sleep. If you have constricted nasal passages it will be harder to breath and you may not get the optimal amount of oxygen at night or you could have a higher heart rate/blood pressure at night due to the strain of less oxygen. Your heart has to work harder under lower oxygen conditions.
Mold, viruses, and bacteria can cause the same reactions along with making you legitimately sick. You are fully aware of how your sleep is impacted when you are sick and you know how when you have poor sleep your immune system goes down. This becomes a vicious cycle of being sick getting better, but then falling back into sickness.
VOC’s can cause respiratory irritation and disrupt hormone signalling. Hormones are your body’s messenger system. If the messenger is delivering the wrong messages or at the wrong times you can imagine that your body is going to be going haywire.
One last problem that can arise in homes and bedrooms is increased carbon dioxide levels. Homes are now becoming very sealed up in the name of energy reduction costs. The one drawback to this is that there is not an exchange of air anymore, but instead the same air cycled over and over again.
Outdoors, carbon dioxide levels are typically found to be 250 to 350 parts per million. Typical occupied spaces with good air exchange have carbon dioxide levels between 350 and 1,000 parts per million. Problems can start to arise when carbon dioxide levels increase to above this for prolonged periods.
Humans as you know exhale carbon dioxide along with pets. If you have a gas stove, fireplace, furnace, and a hot water heater, all of these contribute to lowering the oxygen level in the house due to combustion.
When carbon dioxide levels build up in the room they impede the conditions that your body needs to get a restful sleep. This can leave you feeling groggy when you wake up or experience brain fog.
There are multiple fronts you can attack for improving the air quality of your bedroom/house.
Some of the easier and cheaper options to start with are the following:
- Open a window slightly. This will allow fresh oxygen to come in and carbon dioxide to move out. If you live in a city/urban environment this could be counter productive depending on how bad the air quality of the city is and another reason to get a good air purifier for your apartment.
- Place some plants around the house. Plants produce oxygen, consume carbon dioxide, and remove VOCs like benzene and formaldehyde. Some easy to care for plants are aloe vera, english ivy, snake plant (my personal fav and I have these in all of our bedrooms), and spider plant.
- Turn on a fan to circulate air in the room.
- Remove your clothes in the bathroom. Clothes carry lots of allergens that when removed in the bedroom can land on your bedding and irritate your allergies at night.
- Take a shower and wash your hair before going to bed. By doing this you can remove pollen, dust, and dirt that you accumulated during the day instead of getting it all over your pillow and breathing it in all night long.
To take it a step more consider these options.
- Add an air purifier. Look at purchasing an air purifier for each bedroom. Seek out ones that have UV-C and HEPA filtration and change the filters and bulb according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- On your heating and cooling system purchase air filters that remove the smallest micron sized particles.
- Have your air ducts cleaned 2x a year..
- Remove carpet and rugs from the room, or if you keep them vacuum them weekly and have them shampooed 2x a year.
- Purchase an organic mattress to avoid off gassing of VOCs from industrial mattresses. Avocado makes a great organic mattress.
- Purchase an Awair air quality monitor to measure the quality of the air in your house.
Try This: Are you doing anything currently to improve your air quality?
Write down 3 steps you are going to take to start improving your air quality in your room.
Already doing some of these? Awesome, now what can you do to take it to the next level?