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How much do air pollution and heat affect our sleep quality?

air pollution affects sleep quality

Are you struggling to get a good night’s sleep lately? You’re not alone! A recent study has found that air pollution and heat are linked to lower sleep quality.

A recent study has found that air pollution and heat can negatively impact our sleep quality. That, in turn, can have long-term implications for our overall health and well-being. The study, published in the journal Environmental Research, analyzed data from over 1,00,000 participants across the United States, China, and Europe. They assessed the relationship between air pollution, heat, and sleep quality.

The study revealed that participants, who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution, specifically fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), experienced more disrupted sleep and a higher likelihood of insomnia. Additionally, participants living in areas with higher temperatures at night also had lower sleep quality.

air pollution in india
Representative picture | Photo: Flickr

Fine particulate matter is made up of tiny particles that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Hence, can easily penetrate our lungs and bloodstream. Exposure to PM2.5 can cause inflammation in the respiratory system. Furthermore, has been linked to various health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

Nitrogen dioxide, on the other hand, is a gas that is produced by burning fossil fuels and is commonly found in urban areas. Exposure to NO2 can cause respiratory issues such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

How do air pollution and heat affect sleep?

The study did not determine the exact mechanisms by which air pollution and heat affect sleep. Although, it is believed that air pollution and heat can disrupt our circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, air pollution and heat can cause physical discomfort and irritability. Hence, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as cognitive impairment and mood disorders.

The study’s findings are particularly concerning for people living in urban areas, where air pollution and heat are often more pronounced. The urban areas tend to have higher levels of traffic and industrial activity. Hence, can contribute to higher levels of air pollution. Additionally, urban areas tend to have more concrete and asphalt surfaces, which can absorb and retain heat, leading to higher temperatures at night.

How do air pollution and heat affect sleep?
Woman in Dusk Mask, Gadhada India | Photo: Flickr

What can we do?

While we may not be able to control external factors such as air pollution and temperature, we can take steps to create a conducive sleep environment. This includes keeping our bedrooms cool and well-ventilated, investing in air purifiers, and avoiding activities that may contribute to indoor air pollution such as smoking or burning candles. Additionally, establishing a consistent sleep routine and practicing good sleep hygiene can help improve our sleep quality. Furthermore, offset the negative impacts of external factors such as avoiding electronic devices before bed and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.


The study highlights the importance of policymakers prioritizing measures to reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change. Some measures that can be taken include promoting the use of clean energy, encouraging public transportation and active transportation, and implementing policies to reduce industrial emissions and waste.

This study highlights the need for greater awareness and action on the impacts of air pollution and climate change on our sleep quality. The existing problem of air pollution in India can pose significant health challenges. When compounded with rising temperatures, its impact on people’s health can become more pronounced. While there is still much to be learned about the exact mechanisms by which these factors affect our sleep, the evidence is clear that they do. Hence, we must take action to protect our sleep and our health. After all, a good night’s sleep is essential for our mental and physical health!

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