At the end of the day, I look forward to sleeping and resting the most. What I hate the most is waking up in the middle of the night because I’m either sweating or just uncomfortable. Waking up multiple times a night makes me even more tired when I wake up the next day.
Optimal humidity levels are an essential part of any sleeping space. The ideal humidity level for sleeping is anywhere from 30% to 60%.
The ideal humidity level for the most comfortable sleep would, of course, vary and depend on each individual. Other factors like personal preference, the temperature inside and outside, and even health concerns would play a role in determining the right humidity level for you.
In this article, we talk about the ideal humidity and temperature levels for sleeping, the risks of having either too high or too low humidity, and touch on the best sleeping environment for babies and toddlers.
But First…What Happens When You Fall Asleep?
Before we dive deep into humidity and how it affects sleep, let’s first touch on what exactly happens when we close our eyes to sleep.
Sleep cycles are made up of four distinct stages, and they are listed below.
First and second NREM stages
The first and second NREM stages of every sleep cycle are what is considered light sleep. During these stages, the body naturally slows down in terms of heartbeat, breathing, and brain activity.
Third NREM stage
In a healthy sleep cycle, there is a third and final NREM stage. During this stage, your heartbeat, breathing, and brain activity all reach their lowest points. This sets the stage for the next and final step of falling asleep soundly.
The fourth stage of a healthy sleep cycle is REM sleep. At this stage, your body is now completely motionless. You will also start breathing rapidly and brain activity will increase gradually.
And as the name suggests (Rapid Eye Movement), your eyes will move rapidly. Dreaming also occurs during this stage. The REM sleep stage is key to memory consolidation and allows your body to rest completely.
How Humidity Affects Sleep
Our body works intensely everyday. It doesn’t matter if we move and walk as part of our work or sit in front of a computer to accomplish work. At the end of the day, our bodies are tired and are looking for rest and sleep.
A good night’s sleep the night before helps our body rest and recover. Sleep basically helps our body get ready for the next day so we can work and be productive again. A good sleep also helps set our mood right so we get to work with better attitudes and are therefore more productive.
But if our sleep consists of twisting and turning all night, constantly waking up in the middle of the night, and profusely sweating, then we’re not getting the sleep and rest our bodies need.
When we’re not getting enough sleep and rest at night, there are many factors we think of first – light, sound, mattress, and the pillows we use among many others.
Humidity and temperature levels are often at the end of the list but both are very important factors that can affect the quality of your sleep.
What is humidity?
Humidity is the amount of water vapor present in the air of a given space. The higher the humidity, the more water or moisture there is in the air. And the lower it is, the less water vapor is present in the air.
When talking about humidity levels, it’s important to note there are two separate terms you should know about: absolute humidity and relative humidity.
Absolute humidity refers to the actual amount of moisture present in the air. Relative humidity, on the other hand, refers to the amount of actual moisture present in the air relative to how much humidity the air can hold, given the current temperature.
Relative humidity (RH) is the standard for measuring humidity and is presented in percentage figures.
When there is extremely high humidity…
Extremely high room humidity levels can cause disruptions in your sleep cycle. It can be very uncomfortable to sleep in a bedroom with high humidity so as a result, you tend to wake up more during the night, unable to go through the proper sleep cycle your body needs to rest and recover.
Higher humidity levels can also lead to excess sweating while you sleep. If you always wake up with damp sheets, this is a sign you need to lower your bedroom’s humidity.
Increased allergies can also be due to high humidity levels. These allergens can lead to respiratory infections, cold, cough, bronchitis, sinus infections, breathing difficulties, and even trigger asthma.
Molds, fungi, and dust mites thrive in moist and humid environments. Letting your house or bedroom have dangerously high humidity levels would mean allowing mold and fungi thrive and grow in the environment as well. These in your bedrooms can worsen allergies and worsen existing respiratory conditions.
When there is extremely low humidity…
High humidity levels are not the only risk you should be thinking about when it comes to humidity. Low humidity levels, in the same way, are equally dangerous and risky.
Low humidity levels can irritate your nose and throat. This can lead to increased nasal allergic reactions and a scratchy throat. A sleeping environment that is too dry can trigger or worsen respiratory infections and make it harder to breathe at night as you sleep.
Increased irritations and allergies at night leads to sleep deprivation and makes it harder to sleep.
Extremely low humidity levels can also cause a certain dryness to your skin. If you have pre-existing skin conditions like eczema, low humidity levels can worsen or trigger it.
Ideal Humidity Level for Sleeping
Now that we’ve talked about the dangers and risk of having bedroom humidity levels either too high or too low, what is really the ideal humidity level for sleeping?
Ideal humidity recommendations vary a lot. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal humidity level indoors and for sleeping is between 30% to 50%.
Some also suggest 40% to 60% humidity levels. Though there are variations, the threshold seems to be common: ideal humidity level shouldn’t go below 30% and shouldn’t go above 60% or you risk what’s listed above with excessive humid air.
Whether you need a humidifier vs. a dehumidifier or both depends on your local weather conditions and indoor air circulation in your home.
Ideal temperature level for sleeping
Humidity goes hand in hand with temperature.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal temperature level for sleeping is anywhere between 60°F to 67°F.
Of course, this range depends on and could still vary according to each individual and what temperature they’re most comfortable to sleep in.
Ideal Indoor Humidity Level for Bedroom and Nursery: The Best Sleeping Environment for Babies
Unlike adults, babies can’t tell you in words whether the relative humidity and temperature levels in their nursery or bedroom needs adjusting. This is why it’s important to know what the ideal sleeping environment is for them.
The ideal humidity level for babies starts at 40% and can go up to 55%. It should never go below that range and should not go above 60% as this is too much humidity for them.
For temperature levels, it would be best to aim for 68°F to 72°F, as the National Sleep Foundation suggests.
Sleeping Better and Optimizing Bedroom Humidity
The right humidity level in your bedroom is essential to getting longer, comfortable, and quality sleep.
Now that you know the optimal humidity range you should aim for at night before you go to sleep, you’d want to keep a close eye on your room’s humidity levels.
A hygrometer will help you measure humidity levels accurately. A thermostat or thermometer also helps you keep an eye on other environmental conditions like temperature. These tools are readily available in your local hardware store and are relatively cheap and affordable.
Bedroom optimization for comfortable sleep would depend on whether you’re decreasing or increasing bedroom humidity:
How to decrease humidity level in your bedroom
Go for breathable and natural fabrics for your bedding and sleeping clothes to wick away sweat and moisture on especially humid nights.
Invest in and use a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier reduces indoor humidity by sucking in vapor and moisture in the air and storing it in a built-in tank. Dehumidifiers can be small, medium-built, or big. Depending on the size, the frequency of having to empty the tank out would vary.
Crack open a few windows when indoor humidity rises. This no-brainer tip will allow excess moisture to escape out of your bedroom.
An air conditioning unit not only works to distribute air on a hot day but also works to remove excess moisture in the air. Running your air conditioner in a moderate setting will help lower the overall humidity level in your room.
How to increase humidity level in your bedroom
Use a humidifier. An opposite to dehumidifiers, a humidifier works to add moisture and water vapor into the air. Invest in a humidifier that would be the perfect size for the size of your bedroom. You’d want something capable of distributing moisture to the entire space.
Adding plants in your sleeping space can help increase humidity levels. It would be best to regularly mist or water the plans for the best results.
Another way to increase humidity levels and combat dry air is by lowering indoor heat.
Sleeping is a very important part of any adult’s life. Getting in bed at the end of the day is the best way to rest, allow your body to recover, and get ready to face the next day full of energy.
To ensure the best sleep quality yet, many factor in things like the room lighting, noise, and even the mattress and pillows used. Humidity is often at the bottom of the list but that doesn’t make it any less important. The ideal humidity level for sleeping is between 30% to 50%.
And that has been our guide on humidity and how it affects sleep. If you have other questions, hit us up below!