Air Quality and Sleep: Are They Interlinked?

Updated July 5, 2020

There’s no denying that sleep is probably the most important thing that you can do for your health. Even if you eat all the fruits and vegetables in the world and exercise as often as possible, not getting the required amount of sleep on a regular basis can take a huge toll on your health – it can negatively impact everything from your immune system to your digestive system. There’s a concept known as sleep hygiene that incorporates all the best practices for a good night’s sleep. It’s said that air quality is part of that system, but how does that work, exactly?

The Link Between Sleep and Air Pollution

This is a topic that has been up for research for quite some time and the studies that have focused on this connection had some very interesting things to point out. Some studies focused on the link between air pollution and sleep apnea, which is a very serious sleep disorder characterized by repeated breathing pauses that could be a result of several underlying problems.

More specifically, the study looked at two very common air pollutants, nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 (a type of fine particle pollution which is a conglomerate of particles that measure less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter). The latter type of contaminants is produced by things like burning wood, motor vehicles, or power plants.

The study revealed the fact that people who live in places where large amounts of these contaminants are found are more likely to end up suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Considering the fact that this sleep apnea is caused by the throat closing and blocking the amount of air intake of the sleeper, it is a very serious condition that doesn’t just impact the quality of sleep, but can be very threatening.

With studies linking air pollution to sleep apnea, it’s time to quickly look over what are some of the complications of sleep apnea in itself. One of the first things that people with sleep apnea end up experiencing is daytime fatigue. This occurs because, in most cases, sleep apnea makes restorative sleep difficult, if not impossible. That increases one’s daytime fatigue since the quality of sleep severely decreases.

But that doesn’t stop there. If you end up suffering from sleep apnea, you severely increase your chances of snoring, which could lead to you having a sleep-deprived partner. It is understandable how loud snoring can impact the quality of sleep of anyone you might share a room with, and this could be a topic for argument in a lot of couples.

Needless to say, air pollution does more than just impact the quality of sleep, it can further affect your mood as well. Specialists have revealed the fact that air pollution takes a toll on someone’s mood as people who live in more polluted areas are less happy and more likely to make irrational decisions. Even more, knowing that you live in a region where air pollution is through the roof and could cause a series of health problems is also going to take a toll on your overall mood.

Can Air Purifiers Improve Sleep?

If air pollution and airborne contaminants are affecting the quality of your sleep, air purifiers are a viable solution. But what exactly makes air purifiers efficient, you ask? They are units that are designed in such a way as to be able to trap a high percentage of fine airborne contaminants that can be as small as 0.3 microns. The contaminants can be anything from pet hair to dust and pollen.

You don’t even need to suffer from allergies to find use in such a machine, although people who have allergies are more likely to purchase one. If you have read any article about sleep hygiene tips and tricks ever, then you have surely seen that one piece of advice telling you to open the window to the bedroom before you go to sleep so you can let some of that fresh air in and increase the chances of a better night’s sleep.

With that argument in mind, having a machine that constantly produces clean and fresh air seems almost like a must-have if you consider that fresh air is an important part of your overall sleep hygiene.

A side benefit that talks in favor of using air purifiers for a better sleep quality go beyond the air-purifying benefits: these units can also serve as white noise machines for people who find it more soothing to fall asleep to such background noise. no matter how low the noise volume of an air purifier might be, it is still something that you will notice if you have a plug-in type of unit. Some people might find that very soothing and as long as it helps them fall asleep faster, who are we to argue with that?

You might be interested in: Best Air Purifiers for Home Use


There is indeed a link between air quality and sleep, and it can have a negative impact in more ways than one. When people think about air contaminants, they imagine that these pose a threat only for those who suffer from allergies, and while that is true, it is only part of the story.

Air pollution has been linked to a condition known as sleep apnea. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you aren’t just likely to snore very loud, but your breathing repeatedly stops multiple times throughout the night. Sometimes, your brain signals danger and wakes you up to breathe in normally again. These can all take a toll on the quality of your sleep, which makes the underlying cause, air quality, something to look into if you want to avoid having such problems in the first place.