If you have ever tossed and turned in bed on a hot summer night, you know how much the weather can impact your sleep. Not only are the high temperatures uncomfortable, but cooler temperatures actually help to activate the sleep hormone melatonin–making it much easier for you to drift off to dreamland. But, temperature is not the only weather element that can be causing you to have less than ideal sleep at night. The humidity level, or amount of moisture in the air, can also impact your sleep quality.
Let’s take a look at some of the sleep problems associated with the humidity level.
Too much humidity can pose two problems. First, when the air is damp, it is much more difficult for your body to cool down. It is hard for your sweat to evaporate into air already filled with water. As we mentioned above, a decrease in body temperature is a necessary part of the sleep process.
Second, high humidity encourages mold growth, which can trigger allergic reactions and cause health issues that will further disrupt your sleep.
On the flip side, there is also such a thing as a ‘too dry’ sleep environment. Dry air, especially in the cold winter season, results in dry, cracked skin as well as irritated nasal passages. Additionally, research has found that viruses, such as the flu, tend thrive in less humidity.
The ideal humidity level for sleep, as well as for flu prevention and discouragement of mold growth, is between 30-50%. In order to accomplish this in your home, try using a humidifier during the winter months and a dehumidifier in the summer. Portable versions of both humidifier and dehumidifiers can be purchased from hardware stores, Amazon, or places such as Target.
Another option is to consider installing a whole home humidifier and dehumidifier that would work in conjunction with your HVAC system. While this choice is a larger investment, it allows you to control the humidity of your entire home without worrying about refilling water tanks of multiple portable humidifiers. Depending on your home and the climate, sometimes just running the air conditioner during the summer months can help to keep things dry enough.
While controlling the humidity of the bedroom can help sleep, it is important to also remember other good sleep hygiene habits such as consistent bedtimes, turning off screens, and avoiding eating large amounts shortly before bed.