Best Ways to Reduce Air Pollution and Improve Sleep

Air Quality at night

We naturally avoid polluted areas while we’re walking in the city. You might find yourself covering your nose when something smells bad or if there’s smoke and dust in the air.

But you can’t do the same when sleeping, for obvious reasons. 

At night, you’re not as aware when air quality changes, so taking the necessary actions to protect yourself is impossible. In other words, you’re more vulnerable to poor air quality at night. 

Thankfully, you can take preventive measures to reduce air pollution at night before you sleep. Below, we delve into the six ways you can improve the air quality in your room for a better night’s sleep. 

What Affects Air Quality at Night?

Outdoor air quality at night can be worse than during the day, as there’s no sun to break down air pollutants and assist with airflow. In fact, the nighttime chemistry of the air contributes significantly to the air pollution problems that China and India are experiencing today—and the rest of the world isn’t exempted. 

During the day, warm air rises as the sun warms the ground, where convection promotes vertical mixing. Air pollutants move higher into the atmosphere, which lowers the chance of human exposure. But once the sun sets, the ground becomes cool, promoting horizontal spread of air pollutants. Unless wind pushes toxins into the skies, humans are exposed to breathing anything lingering in the air.

On top of this, indoor air quality can be worse because we tend to leave windows and doors closed. As the EPA mentions, "If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems."

This also means there is a lower circulation of air in your home. Indoor activities like cooking and cleaning also worsen indoor air quality if you do them before bed.

And poor nighttime air quality isn’t just getting a stuffy nose while sleeping under your blanket. On the contrary, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air can affect the quality of your sleep and harm your health. High PM2.5 levels in the air you breathe can damage your respiratory system, cause sleep apnea, and reduce your sleep efficiency, among many others. 

So, given the variability of nighttime air quality, how can you start air quality monitoring to improve your much-needed rest at night?  

Best Ways to Reduce Air Pollution and Improve Sleep 

Here are the six ways to improve your air quality at night: 

  1. Improve Air Ventilation   
  2. Clean Often and Properly 
  3. Remove Allergens 
  4. Use Air Purifiers 
  5. Install an Air Quality Monitor 
  6. Keep Track of Air Quality Maps 

Knowing that, let’s explore each one a bit further. 

1. Improve Air Ventilation 

Improve your ventilation to prevent air pollution buildup and allow better air circulation. Open your windows when the weather’s nice and keep your heating and cooling system clean and operational. If it’s too cold or stormy to sleep with windows open, at least open your door for a better air exchange rate

2. Clean Often and Properly 

Regularly clean your bed by vacuuming the sheets daily and changing them weekly. And when you’re cleaning your bedroom, use a damp cloth instead of a duster, as a duster will only relocate air pollutants into the air. You want to remove as much dust as possible from your room and bed at all times. 

3. Remove Allergens 

Leave allergens outside your bedroom to decrease the chances of triggering asthma and allergy attacks. Do so by placing plants outside your bedroom and avoiding sleeping with your pets.  

Contrary to popular belief, indoor potted plants don’t improve air quality. In fact, they may produce spores and other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). And a recent study by Dr. Lauren Wisnieski showed that sleeping with a dog increases the chances of developing a sleep disorder, among other concerns. 

4. Use Air Purifiers 

Whether you upgrade the air filter in your home or use portable air purifiers, air cleaners can help filter out particulate matter and other allergens, improving your indoor air quality.

They won’t eradicate air pollutants but can substantially lower the concentration of air pollutants. So you can benefit by lowering the adverse health consequences of such. If you can't afford a nice air purifier, a DIY Box Fan can also help improve your air quality.

5. Install an Air Quality Monitor 

Purchase and install an air quality monitor to determine the air quality in your bedroom. Then, you can take the necessary steps to improve it. An air quality monitor can measure real-time PM2.5 concentrations to quantify air pollution in your bedroom.   

Doing so is crucial, as out of all the particulate matter types, PM2.5 accounts for much of the pollutant’s negative effects on humans. It’s small enough to breathe in easily and tends to remain in our bodies. So, be proactive in protecting yourself by knowing the PM2.5 concentration in your room.  

6. Use Air Quality Maps 

Pay attention to real-time air quality maps to monitor the ambient air quality, especially if you don’t have an outdoor air quality monitor. These maps show the 10-minute average air quality in specific areas and briefly describe how the air quality level can potentially affect your health.   

That way, you’ll know whether you’re breathing clean air. If it’s the latter, you better get serious with the first four tips we’ve outlined above to take steps toward improving the air quality around you. 

Worried About Night Air Quality?   

Monitor the Particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map, or join PurpleAir’s mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home. Together, we can be informed and make changes in our daily habits and the community to improve air quality.