Air Pollution May Be Negatively Affecting Your Sleep

There is already evidence that air pollution can have adverse health effects. Past studies have shown connections between air pollution and numerous lung and heart issues. However, science knows very little about air pollution’s effect on sleep quality. Until now.

Martha E. Billings, MD, is the lead author of a new study that charted the long term effect of air pollution on sleep quality. The study, which observed nearly 2000 individuals, examined two of the most common types of air pollution; fine-particles and traffic-related. Scientists measured the pollution around the participant’s homes at the beginning of the study, and again five years later. Throughout the study the participants wore a device that monitors small movements. Similar to a Fitbit, this device is sensitive enough to pick up even the smallest movements during sleep. By evaluating the data from the wrist trackers, the scientists were able to calculate the participant’s sleep efficiency.

Then, the participants were divided according to the data. The participants with the most air pollution were compared to the participants with the least. Those with the highest exposure to traffic pollution were 60% more likely to have low sleep efficiency compared to those who had lower levels of pollution! The data was also adjusted for things like body mass, smoking habits, age, etc. By adjusting the data, scientists can be more sure that the differences in sleep efficiency they are seeing are actually related to the pollution, and not some other factor.

While more research is still needed; preliminary results seem to indicate that increased levels of sleep pollution can have a negative effect on sleep efficiency.


Key Points

  • 1Air pollution impacts heart health.
  • 2Air pollution affects breathing and lung function.
  • 3Air pollution affects sleep quality.


Improving air quality may be one way to enhance sleep health and perhaps reduce health disparities,” Dr. Billings said.

Read the full article here: – Pollution May Be Contributing To Sleep Disturbances”


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