During this time of lockdown and social distancing, we're all confined to our homes, dealing with anxieties about the invisible dangers in the air. But that's something beyond our control; what we can do something about is the quality and hygiene of the air we breathe inside our homes.
Clean air and balanced humidity in your bedroom can do wonders for our sleep. It's pretty obvious: the better the air quality, the better we'll probably sleep.
Poor air quality, airborne particles and humidity imbalance can impact our breathing at night, and therefore our sleep. It's probably the most overlooked yet most crucial factor when considering our bedrooms.
Excessive heat or cold, electrical lights and noise can all harm sleep (as can a messy bed!), but multiple studies have demonstrated that better bedroom air quality can significantly influence sleep and may also influence our cognitive performance the following day.
Consider the following three elements to ensure cleaner air while you sleep:
One thing most of us are guilty of is having the door and windows to our bedrooms shut all night; this increases the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in an enclosed space and lowers the air quality.
It's been proven that keeping windows and doors slightly open (where possible and safe) helps reduce carbon dioxide levels and improves ventilation and air flow, leading to better sleep. But thanks to British weather we know this isn't always possible.
Keeping plants in your bedroom is another simple way of improving the air quality and removing unwanted air pollutants. A study by NASA found that there are a number of air purifying plants that can detoxify your home from airborne toxins and increase oxygen levels. Plus, they look great in the bedroom.
Ventilating our bedrooms also helps reduce particulate matter - dust, airborne particles, mould spores, allergens, pet dander, odour causing bacteria - essentially indoor 'smog' that can circulate around our home.
These can trigger asthma and allergies. Even if your immune system is that of a warrior, inhaling stuffy dusty air at bedtime doesn't help get you get to sleep.
An air purifier can be beneficial to air quality if keeping doors and windows open isn't an option. These devices clean the air in a room by removing contaminants, and are particularly useful if your bedroom is prone to mould or dust mites that can spike respiratory ailments or allergies.
And even if you don't have allergies, an air purifier cleans and circulates the air you breathe in. Ensure air purifiers have a HEPA filter, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filter, for maximum effectiveness, and make sure it's powerful enough for the size of your bedroom.
The amount of moisture in the air we breathe whilst sleeping can have a big impact on the quality of our sleep; but there's a balance. Too much moisture makes it more difficult for sweat to evaporate from our body, which can make us hot, uncomfortable and sweaty.
But comfort isn't the only issue: too much humidity can also encourage mould and bacteria growth, which could affect our sleep if we suffer from allergies.
However, air that is too dry can also disrupt our sleep. A cold dry environment can dry out our skin and nasal passages, which could make us more susceptible to catching a cold. And coughing, sneezing, and dealing with a stuffy nose or even a simple sore throat don't mix well with sleep. Dry air at night can also play havoc with our skin.
We can't control the weather, unfortunately, but we can control the humidity level in our sleeping space. To ensure the best quality sleep, aim to keep your bedroom's humidity level at about 50%.
Again, the easiest way to achieve beneficial humidity levels is by ventilating our bedroom, allowing fresh air to circulate as much as possible. If or when this isn't possible, use a humidifier to increase the humidity in your room if the air is too dry, or a dehumidifier to decrease it if your sleeping space is too hot and humid.