According to a recently presented study, air pollution may be at the root of yet another health issue, namely sleep problems or even deprivation.
Previous research had already tied high levels of air pollution to various health concerns revolving around the lungs and heart. So the study team decided to take a closer look at how this environmental factor could be affecting sleep quality, and if it is doing so.
“We thought an effect was likely given that air pollution causes upper airway irritation, swelling and congestion, […],” said Martha E. Billings.
She continued by pointing out that such factors may also affect the central nervous system. Possibly even the brain areas responsible for controlling breathing and sleep patterns.
Billings is the study’s lead author and part of the University of Washington. Research results were presented during the TAS 2017 International Conference.
High Air Population Gives Rise to Sleep Problems
The team based its study on data gathered by the MESA or Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. On average, the age of the 1,863 participants involved revolved around 68. They were also part of the MESA Sleep and Air Pollution Studies.
The scientists analyzed the effects of NO2 or traffic related pollutant gas, and the PM2.5, fine-particle pollution. An analysis of these indices in 6 U.S. cities was then combined with local environmental features and other statistical tools.
Based on them, the team was able to estimate air pollution levels and to check its effects. The study participants were divided according to the air pollution levels of their home. Then, their sleep problems and the quality of rest were compared.
Those with the highest NO2 air pollution levels presented the most likely chances of having trouble sleeping. These risks were about 60 percent higher than for the group with the lowest NO2 exposure.
For PM2.5 pollution levels, the highest exposure group had an almost 50 percent higher chance of sleep quality and problems when compared to least exposed.
Billings stated there are still many connections left to study, for example, the short-term exposure to very high levels of air pollution.
Still, the study considers that increasing the air quality may also help improve if not prevent certain sleep quality and problems.
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