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The Effect of Air Pollution on Sleep Health

Sleep health is considered by modern health experts and physicians to be a barometer of overall physical and mental health.

If your sleep is poor quality, frequently interrupted, or plagued by snoring, chances are something is amiss with your environment or health that is causing these symptoms.

Air pollution is something that many of us instinctually believe to have a significant effect on our overall health. Images of a crisp blue sky, a forest of fresh green leaves and a crisp blue lake are associated with breathing easily and living in overall health, while images of smog and terrible air pollution are associated with poor health.

However, there is now considerable evidence to suggest that air pollution is bad for our overall health, and it affects the quality of our sleep. People who sleep in cities and areas that are polluted and have low air quality suffer from a myriad of health conditions that are far less common among those living in non-polluted areas.

What Air Quality Advisories Can Tell You About Your Sleep

Many people are aware the U.S. government puts out air quality advisories that inform citizens about any areas of special concern.

These advisories can help you understand the severity of air pollution in your area, geographical areas affected, and common health complaints that are caused or aggravated by increases in the level of pollution in the air.

Some of the conditions worsened or aggravated by poor air quality include asthma, lung cancer, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, infections of the bronchi and lungs, as well as other lung diseases.

Some people who experience these types of lung conditions are fine during the day and only experience exacerbations during the night time. This is because they are less able to control their breathing in an unconscious sleep state and increase their respiration rate or take deep breaths. Furthermore, people generally sleep lying down, which decreases air entry into the lungs and makes it more difficult to breathe in and out effectively.

For these reasons, you may not notice the direct effects of air pollution on your lung condition during the daytime, but find your sleep is frequently interrupted or that you wake up short of breath.

smog at sunset in LAHow Air Pollution Affects Breathing and Sleep

Most breathing disorders are aggravated by poor air quality and increased particle pollution in the atmosphere, and disorders that cause snoring such as obstructive sleep apnea are not an exception to this.

Symptoms such as snoring are often worsened during times of exacerbated air pollution and poor air quality. Because sleep apnea makes it more difficult to breathe during sleep under even the most ideal of circumstances, exposure to environmental pollution makes it more difficult to sleep through the night without waking up due to simply not getting enough air.

People with sleep apnea that is characterized as mild will often have symptoms consistent with moderate sleep apnea during times of exacerbated air pollution or poor air quality, while those with moderate sleep apnea will have symptoms that are consistent with very severe sleep apnea.

While using an air filter or fan can help manage poor air quality to some extent, it is generally not sufficient to bring the quality of the air you are breathing back to its baseline.

People who use a CPAP machine may be less affected by air pollution. While poor air quality disproportionately affects those with lung conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, if their CPAP machine includes an air filter or another filtration mechanism, they may effectively be breathing in cleaner air than other people who sleep without a CPAP device.

However, not all CPAP machines have a filter, so if you use CPAP, it is important to know if your machine does so you know if it will provide you will any level of protection from particulate matter in the air.

If your snoring gets worse when the level of air pollution does, you’re not alone. It is worth going to your doctor or health care provider to be evaluated for any underlying lung condition or other diseases.

However, if you are hoping to cure your snoring on your own, there are dozens of anti-snoring mouthpieces available on the market to help you breathe easier, sleep longer, and have more energy when you wake up in the morning.

Using these types of mouthpieces and other anti-snoring devices is especially important when there is pollution in the air, to ensure you have the best sleep you possibly can.

About the Author Robert J. Hudson

Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!

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