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How Humidity Affects Sleep

You know that feeling when you wake up hot and sweaty in the middle of the night, and you feel like you just can’t get comfortable and fall back asleep? That feeling may just have to do with the levels of humidity in your home. Humidity can cause that stuffy, uncomfortable feeling within a room, and, since our bodies heat up as part of the natural sleep process, this internal temperature mixed with external humidity can cause chaos within the body and wake you up from even the deepest sleep.

But, did you also know that too low humidity can also affect the way that you sleep? While too high humidity can disrupt your natural sleep cycle (mostly because it can cause you to wake up hot and sweaty), on the other hand, too low humidity can make the environment you sleep in too dry and make you uncomfortable. You need a perfect balance of humidity to sleep well, and we explain why.

Why Do Humidity Levels Matter?

Humidity levels matter because it can interfere with the health stages of sleep. Everything from your body temperature to breathing pattern goes into what makes sleep happen, and during the slow wave phase of sleep, which means a deep sleep stage, your body will enter it’s lowest mode, kind of like a power save mode. In this mode, your breathing, heart, and brain wave activity slow down, which is natural and necessary for overall bodily repair within your tissues and muscles.

In the fourth stage of sleep, you will enter your REM stage where things will start to pick up as you’ve entered actual restful sleep. Your breathing will elevate, as well as your heart rate and brain function since you start to dream within this phase. During this phase, high humidity can increase your ability to wake up, as your body will need to be cooler during this phase. High humidity can make a room feel too stuffy, where your body naturally needs to feel cooler.

— Breathing Issues

If a room has high humidity, it will be a damp environment. This type of environment is ideal for the growth of mold and spores, which are two of the main allergens that can trigger allergies, asthma, and other breathing issues. Prolonged exposure to mold, spores, and such allergens, such as sleeping in a high humidity room night after night, can even cause some pretty serious lung infections and cause prolonged sickness.

If you are someone with asthma, for example, sleeping in a high humidity room can cause more and more symptoms to occur during the day when you least expect it. You may notice more complications with your asthma or with your allergies due to this prolonged exposure that is essentially just damaging your lungs over a long period of time. If you are dealing with a humid environment that may also have dust mites, this will only make the situation worse as these types of allergens also bury themselves inside mattresses, making a high humidity room even more humid due to the body sweating and providing more moisture into the environment.

Low humidity rooms can also affect your breathing and overall sleep because low humidity can cause desperately dry skin. This can also lead to itchy eyes and sore throats, as well as potentially making snoring issues worse due to the lack of humidity. If you are someone with allergies who sleeps in a low humidity room, you may notice that your skin and eyes will start to itch much more often and that your throat will start to hurt due to bigger breathing issues such as snoring. Too high humidity and too low humidity are both going to wreak havoc on your immune system, whether or not you suffer from lung issues or regular allergy issues.

Best Humidity to Sleep In

It is very important to monitor the ratio of water vapor in the air to the amount of vapor that will naturally exist in a room at a given time. This type of humidity is called relative humidity and it is known that warmer air can hold a bit more vapor, as warmer climates are always more humid than the cooler climates. Cooler climates with cooler air have a higher relative humidity. Warmer climates, while they feel more humid, have more actual water vapor in the air, which makes it feel stuffy and wet. Overall, a safe range to keep your indoor relative humidity should fall anywhere between 30 to 50 percent to make it at the ideal humidity levels. These ranges should never exceed 60 percent if you want to ensure that humidity levels won’t affect your sleep patterns in a negative way.

In order to keep track of these types of levels, you can buy a humidistat which works kind of like an indoor thermostat which monitors your home’s temperature. This humidistat will actually let you know just where the levels of humidity are within your own home, making it easier to set the range and take the guesswork out of what these numbers could be. If you have a range set and the internal humidity levels exceed that level, your humidistat will turn on automatically and adjust the levels on its own. Think of this just as you would your thermostat, but just for humidity specifically. It’s a great tool to have, especially if you have a loved one within the home that suffers from asthma, allergies, or any kind of skin issues.

Working as a Team

In order to get the best sleep possible within your home, set your thermostat to about 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, along with your humidistat at about 40 to 50 percent, and you will sleep like a baby. The house will be cool enough, so your body won’t heat up excessively and you won’t wake up in the middle of the night hot, sweaty, and miserable. And, your humidity levels will be just perfect so that you will never have disrupted sleep due to coughing at night because the humidity is too high and it’s triggering your allergies. Being able to mix a cooler environment with just the right humidity levels is basically a dream come true for your inner self as you will experience some of the best sleep of your life.

If you take these two steps, incorporating a humidistat and a thermostat within your home, you are sure to see and feel a difference within your house and get much better sleep. Find a moderate airflow AC unit so that you can adjust the settings of your air conditioner and you won’t just get too cold air at all times. This can also affect the humidity levels by making it too low and not getting proper sleep because of it. It may be a delicate balance, but once you find it, you’ll be glad that you put so much work into finding your ideal thermostat or air conditioner unit and humidistat.

It may be a small addition but adding in moisture wicking sheets to your bedroom will work wonders in conjunction with your humidistat and thermostat. This way, you will never wake up sweaty and sticking to your bed and your sheets will always feel fresh and clean. Sheets like these prevent your sweat from soaking into the sheets and then into the mattress, which can cause more humidity within a bedroom. Also, this is a great way to keep allergens out of your sheets and mattress since allergens won’t be able to bury into a mattress.

The Wrap Up

As you can see, humidity plays a major factor in determining what kind of sleep you are going to get that night. You never want to sleep in an environment that has a too high humidity level or a too low humidity level. A perfect range of anywhere from 30 to 50 percent will be your ideal target when it comes to humidity. This mixed with your air conditioning at about 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit will allow you to sleep peacefully all throughout the night. You will be sure to wake up super refreshed and ready for the day and notice a huge difference in your day to day routines.

This won’t just benefit you, but it will benefit your entire family as your family will also be experiencing these ideal humidity levels. If you have a loved one that needs less humidity, you can always get a dehumidifier for an individual room. These are portable devices that can be moved very easily from room to room. It’s a small investment to make once you’ve already set up your humidistat and thermostat for the entire home. This way, everyone gets the individualized attention that they need, and you can customize their room to fit their individual health specifications. Better sleep is ultimately a win-win for everyone, so it’s always important to make sure that you are providing your family the best sleep possible.

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