Do you lose sleep each night? Are you addicted to technology? Have you been diagnosed with a sleep disorder yourself? If you answered yes to all three questions, then without a doubt you have sleeping issues. Meanwhile, there is another factor you need to include in your growing list of health risks: air pollution. It is not actually a new one because air pollution in itself predisposes you to a long list of pulmonary diseases for as long as you can remember.
Sleep is already compromised because of our increasingly modern and sedentary lifestyle, smart gadget and social media obsession and the consequent overexposure to blue light among others that we constantly lose sleep as a result. Our health deteriorates because our surroundings are full of triggers that make us sleep-deprived, no matter what mattress we use. Can you imagine sleeping when the outside smoke from vehicles invades the confines of your private escape? After all, not all of us can afford air conditioning, so we have to make do with the poor air quality that everyone else breathes.
High levels of air pollution over time may get in the way of a good night’s sleep, according to new research presented at the ATS 2017 International Conference.
“Prior studies have shown that air pollution impacts heart health and affects breathing and lung function, but less is known about whether air pollution affects sleep,” said lead author Martha E. Billings, MD, MSc, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington. “We thought an effect was likely given that air pollution causes upper airway irritation, swelling and congestion, and may also affect the central nervous system and brain areas that control breathing patterns and sleep.”
The researchers analyzed data from 1,863 participants (average age 68) in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) who also enrolled in both MESA‘s Sleep and Air Pollution studies. The researchers looked at two of the most common air pollutants: NO2 (traffic-related pollutant gas) and PM2.5, or fine-particle pollution. Using air pollution measurements gathered from hundreds of MESA Air and Environmental Protection Agency monitoring sites in six U.S. cities, plus local environment features and sophisticated statistical tools, the research team was able to estimate air pollution exposures at each participant’s home at two time points: one year and five years.
While air pollution has always been a health risk, there was little to no link identified when it came to sleeping. However, recent studies reveal that exposure to air pollution has a negative impact to human’s sleeping patterns, after all.
Some 15 to 20 per cent of students in Delhi’s private schools are suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in comparison to only two per cent students in government schools, an ongoing study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has revealed.
The study — whose first phase has been completed with over 7,000 students examined — is being funded by the Department of Science and Technology and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The age group examined as part of the study is 10-17 years.
“We are doing a study whose findings are very dramatic and it reveals that in the government schools we hardly see OSA. However, in private schools we see huge presence of OSA in the students. It is an ongoing study but the data found in the first phase is so startling that we want to know what will be the result after the completion of the study,” said AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria.
Sleep apnea is caused by recurrent episodes of upper airway obstruction during sleep. Several risk factors, including obesity, male sex, age and heridity, have been associated with an increased prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in the general population.
Among these, obesity is one of the strongest sleep apnea risk factors (12-15 years). Mild to moderate obesity has been associated with markedly increased sleep apnea prevalence.
Another study regarding air pollution’s link to the prevalence of sleep apnea is also being conducted in line with this study. The sleep experts are doing their best to understand the reason for the increase in sleep apnea sufferers despite the young age of the students.
Many have a hard time falling and staying asleep these days. It is not a comforting thought considering how complex life has become for all of us. The last thing we wanted was to get a good night’s sleep at the end of the day. It is what our tired mind and body need. If we don’t address it right away, we’ll be facing even more problems not solely related to our health, so better get to the heart of the matter now.