Humidity and Sleep Facts

Humidity and Sleep Facts

Humidity and Sleep Facts

How much does our sleep environment matter? Is there a correlation between the amount of humidity and sleep quality? The research suggests that our sleeping conditions affect our overall quality of sleep and any chronic sleep problems that may arise. Humidity and sleep have been studied to find the optimal sleeping environment. 

What Is Humidity? 

Humidity is the amount of water in the air. Higher humidity causes the temperature of the air to feel more intense. In a drier location, the temperature is not as magnified making the outdoor air more bearable. Higher humidity makes the air feel denser due to the high amounts of water vapour. 

Humidity is part of the water cycle as the air absorbs water through evaporation. The air does its best to hold as much as it can, but when it reaches its limit, it will start to rain. This dispenses the liquid from the atmosphere back to the ground where it will later be absorbed again. 

What Is Sleep? 

Sleep is a resting period that allows the body to repair any needed areas and regain lost energy. As humans, our longest stretch of sleep is at night. Sleep is separated into different stages. To have optimal sleep, our bodies should experience all four.

Three stages are considered non-REM. The fourth stage is REM sleep. The longer the REM cycles are, the more restful the overall sleep is. 

Humidity and Sleep Temperature

The temperature of the air will likely dictate how much humidity there will be. The higher an air’s temperature, the higher the percentage of water vapour present in the air. The warmer seasons of the year will have higher humidity naturally than the colder seasons. 

The physical location of an area also affects humidity. There will naturally be more humidity near large bodies of water. Water evaporation makes humidity higher in those areas. Just as the temperature affects the humidity, the humidity affects the temperature. A region that is naturally high in humidity due to location will naturally have slightly higher temperatures than surrounding areas in the colder parts of the year. 

The humidity and sleep quality are closely linked. A person falling asleep in a room with high humidity will suffer setbacks in their sleep cycle. The body will not be able to transition to each of the phases and will have to use more energy to keep the person warm. During sleep, the body does not typically manage to maintain the bodily warmth. 

The body will fight harder to maintain homeostasis, resulting in poorer sleep. The dense air feeling will make a person feel heavier. They might have more laborious breathing than they would in a drier environment. 

When your body is working harder, that can take away from the restfulness that you want to experience. There is less time in REM sleep which is the deepest and most restorative cycle. Room humidity and sleep studies show that the temperature will also be slightly higher when humidity is up. 

Why Do We Need Decent Sleep? 

Humidity and sleep are worth looking into because our sleep matters. The quality of our sleep affects our overall health. Most recently, connections have been discovered between sleep and our mental health or well-being. The amount of sleep received directly relates to one’s overall mental state. 

Sleep affects our quality of life. Sleep lowers our chance of sickness, gives us mental sharpness, gives us the energy to perform our daily tasks, and repairs our muscles for the next day. Every bodily function needs sleep to recharge to perform at optimal levels. It is necessary to keep our immune system strong and avoid chronic disease. 

When environmental factors interrupt sleep such as humidity, the body tries to compensate or protect itself from these factors. Those functions become slower and draining. They feel cumbersome for the body to perform because of the lack of energy from sleep. We are at a higher risk of being overweight, developing a disease, and taking longer to heal from illness when our sleep is poor. 

How to Make Humidity and Sleep Work Together

While high humidity can negatively impact the quality of sleep a person receives, there can still be humidity in the room and achieve decent sleep that restores the body. Having no humidity in a room would be difficult to accomplish. No humidity can cause problems on the opposite side of the spectrum like nose bleeds. 

If a person wants to minimize the effect of humidity on their sleep, it should be maintained at certain levels. There has been fluctuating disagreement for several years on the optimal range, but the consensus seems to be that relative humidity should be no higher than 60%. Other studies suggest percentages anywhere from 30% to 50% for relative humidity. None of the studies or research encourages humidity to be any higher than 60%. 

Understanding that humidity thrives in warmer temperatures, it is recommended to manage the temperature in the home before crawling into bed. A good range for sleep temperature would be from 65 to 70 degrees. This temperature range cools down the air enough that humidity will not disrupt the sleeping individual, but will not make the room unbearably cold. 

Another way to monitor sleep in the home is by purchasing a dehumidifier that works to regulate humidity levels. They can be set up in the bedroom to ensure the sleeping environment remains at a decent humidity level. They often have different settings that can be catered to your desired needs.

Conclusion

Humidity affects our sleep. It indirectly affects our quality of life because it will have an impact on the amount of sleep and its quality. Our sleep is interrupted and less restorative when the humidity in our sleeping environment is beyond a comfortable threshold. If a person notices poor sleep, a good place to start improving it is to control the humidity levels while sleeping. 

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