In an ideal world, we’d all be sleeping peacefully through the night, breathing in clean air. However, the sad reality is that the average house’s indoor air quality is four to five times more polluted than outdoor air, even in industrial cities. Considering that we’re breathing in this polluted air for about eight hours every night as we sleep, it’s undeniably taking a toll on our sleep quality and overall health.
What causes indoor air pollution?
- Fuel-burning appliances such as:
- Gas or wood stoves
- Gas dryers
- Space heaters
- Gas or oil furnaces
- Tobacco products
- Building materials and furnishings such as:
- Deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation
- Newly installed flooring, upholstery, or carpet
- Cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
- Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
- Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
- Excess moisture
- Outdoor sources such as:
- Outdoor air pollution
How it affects your sleep and health
As you can guess, poor indoor air quality doesn’t exactly help with sleep. According to a study by a Harvard researcher, air pollution increases the risk of poor sleep and sleep-disordered breathing (including sleep apnea). When you suffer from poor sleep after a night of inhaling pollutants like dust, pet dander, and contaminants in large quantities, you’ll lack adequate oxygen in the blood and wake up cranky and tired. That’s never fun.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases, so it is often difficult to determine if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air pollution.”
Imagine all those mornings you woke up with a stuffy nose and cough thinking you were getting sick, when in reality, you were experiencing the side effects of poor air quality. A way to figure out if your symptoms are from a cold or indoor air pollution is to observe whether your symptoms fade once you leave your house/building. If they do fade, then indoor air pollution is likely the culprit.
Repeated exposure to indoor air pollution can even cause long-term consequences, such as respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer. Based on cancer risk alone, federal scientists have ranked indoor air pollution as one of the most important environmental problems in the United States.
Don't go into shock mode yet—there are ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality that can help prevent these symptoms and ensure safety for you and your family.
What are ways to improve your indoor air quality?
1. Ventilate your room. Open up your windows, unless it’s extremely cold or there’s a high pollen count. Turn on your fan or air conditioner to allow airflow through your home. The constant airflow replaces stale air and fumes with cleaner air.
2. Shield your pillows, mattresses, and box springs from pesky dust mites with dust mite resistant covers. We recommend our Pillow Protector and Ultra Luxe Waterproof Mattress Protector. Also make sure to wash your bedding and rugs in hot water to eliminate the dust mites.
3. Invest in a quality air purifier. GermGuardian’s 3-in-1 Air Purifier captures allergens, kills airborne viruses and bacteria, and reduces mold and odors. An affordable alternative would be the hOmeLabs 3 in 1 Ionic Air Purifier.
4. Install a premium air filter in your home’s cooling and heating system to catch allergens and contaminants. Remember to regularly replace the filter as well.
5. Ban smoking in the house. The EPA estimates that exposure to secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in nonsmokers.
6. Use an air quality monitor. The Awair system tracks toxins and chemicals, dust, CO2, humidity, and temperature so you can be informed about your indoor air quality. It also provides personalized tips to improve your indoor air quality.
7. Eliminate odors, don’t mask them. Instead of spraying air fresheners that often contain many harmful chemicals, try a natural alternative like the Bamboo Charcoal Deodorizer, which absorbs odors and prevents mold, mildew, and bacteria from forming by absorbing excess moisture.
8. Dust, vacuum, and mop often. Because dust can be a combination of pollen, pet dander, bacteria, mites, mold, and mildew, be sure to dust furnishings regularly with a damp rag or electrostatic duster. Vacuum two to three times a week for the best results, and regularly clean your filter. Lastly, mopping cleans up the leftover dust that vacuuming leaves behind. We recommend the Mopnado system for easy cleaning.
9. Keep pets out of the bedroom. They may be cute and cuddly, but they also spread pet dander, one of the most pervasive allergens. Don’t forget to regularly wash their bedding as well.
10. Consider a dehumidifier. If you live in a humid environment, keep your air dry with a dehumidifier to prevent mold growth.
11. Place a large floor mat at your front door for people to leave their shoes before entering your home. This will prevent pollutants like dirt and pesticides from creeping their way into your house.
Air quality matters to your sleep and health, so taking a few steps to ensure that the air you're breathing is clean will make a huge difference in your everyday life. We hope that after implementing these tips, you'll enjoy cleaner air, a more restful environment, and peace of mind.
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