A group of disorders known as Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB) is linked to a number of lifestyle factors, including age, weight and gender. A recent Harvard study shows that another cause is at work: poor indoor quality. With an estimated 17% of U.S. adults suffering from one of these disorders, this information is a breakthrough in SDB research.
While the link between poor health and poor air has long been known, this is the first known study on the relationship between air quality and sleep.
This news might be discouraging to SDB patients who live in areas notorious for pollution and poor air quality. If moving to a less polluted area is not an option, fortunately there are a few ways to improve the air you breathe – and hopefully your sleep as well:
- Be sure that your home (particularly the bedroom if you have a SDB!) is well ventilated.
- Know when air quality is poorest in your area. It may take some research, but avoid exposure to the air outside when air quality is at it’s worst! For example, rush hour is not the best time for a walk. According to Diane Gold, MD, MPH, a researcher on the study, “You are at a 13% higher risk of having shallow breathing or stopping breathing for at least 10 seconds if pollution goes from the lower range to the higher range of pollution for that city. ‘This is clinically significant.” Yikes!
- Install air conditioning in your home. John Heffner, MD, offers another perspective on WebMD; ”We need more research to see if there is really a causal link [between pollution and sleep-disordered breathing]. I would advise patients with sleep-disordered breathing, particularly if they are not too responsive to therapy for their sleep problems, to seek air conditioned homes, and to seek out air conditioning if they don’t have it in their homes during times of serious air pollution problems.”
Do you or anyone you know deal with Sleep Disordered Breathing? Taking action to improve your air quality might help. Chime in with your thoughts in the comments section below this post!
Photo Credit: Elusive Sleep by Melanie Hayes on Flickr.