Some summer nights are simply too hot to sleep without turning the aircon on in your bedroom. The heat can cause you to toss and turn for hours before falling into a restless and disturbed sleep. Getting sufficient sleep is just as important to your overall health and wellbeing as eating a healthy diet and drinking enough water.
Without food and water, our bodies shut down and die. The same thing goes for sleep. Sleep deprivation does not only result in mental problems such as lack of concentration and forgetfulness but can also result in mild to severe physical health issues including heart disease and contributing to the development of type II diabetes.
These are both life threatening illnesses.
But does sleeping with the aircon on at night make you sick and what are the health risks associated with this?
Some experts say that it is a myth that sleeping with the aircon on can make you ill. However, there is scientific evidence as well as just plain common sense that proves that there may be some disadvantages to your physical health.
5 Reasons to think twice before turning your aircon on before going to bed include:
1. Core Body Temperature
Ever wondered why we need blankets to sleep at night? This is because your core body temperature drops slightly while you are sleeping and you need the extra covers to keep you warm. Turning the aircon on can lower your body temperature even further even though you are under the covers and it is a warm night.
The least that will happen when your temperature drops too low is that you will wake up and suffer from disrupted sleep. The worst is that your bodily functions may be impeded due to your lowered body temperature.
*It is recommended to set your aircon to a higher temperature than you would during the day. A more ambient temperature of around 25 degrees C (77 degrees F) is recognized as average room temperature and ideal for sleeping without dropping your body temperature too low.
2. Drying Out
If you are waking up in the morning with a dry mouth, throat, nasal passages and skin, it may because you are running your aircon throughout the night. An aircon delivers colder air that is also drier. This drier air that you are breathing in causes dryness in the nose and throat and can also result in dry skin. Dry nose, mouth and throat can make you more susceptible to illness.
- It is advisable to set your aircon to 90% humidity while you are sleeping. If your aircon does not have a humidity setting, invest in a quality humidifier that you can run in conjunction with the aircon. The humidifier will replace moisture that is lost in the air from the aircon.
3. Sleep Function
While we are sleeping, our body directs energy and resources to other functions that often take a backseat during the day when we are awake. These functions include boosting the immune system to help protect the body against illness and disease while aiding in healing. Insufficient sleep or disrupted sleep can result in these functions not being performed and therefore a lowered immune system.
Research also suggests that lowered temperatures may impede these functions from being performed. The production of important hormones that are released during sleep and aid in building a strong immune system are delayed and result in the body having a reduced ability to defend against illness and disease.
- If you are struggling to fall asleep as a result of summer heat, turn the aircon on and set the sleep function. This function will automatically turn the aircon off after a specific time. While you will find it easier to fall asleep, you will also not wake because you are too cold. Your core body temperature will also not drop so low as to impede bodily functions that are important during sleep.
4. Thermal Adaptation
Thermal adaptation refers to the ability of the body to adapt to certain hot or cold temperatures. For example, if you have a hot shower every day, your body will become more used to hot temperatures. The same goes for using the aircon at night. If you run the aircon all day and all night, your body will get used to the temperature that the thermostat is set at and lose its ability to cope or deal with varying temperatures.
Your body is designed to regulate it’s own temperature by opening and closing pores, perspiring (sweating) and increasing or decreasing blood circulation. Sleeping at the same, cold temperature every night may impede the body’s ability to self-regulate temperature.
A mild, warm day in Spring may suddenly seem too hot too handle and you may find yourself perspiring more than usual. Or you may find yourself taking off your coat in temperatures that others find uncomfortably cold.
- It is recommended to set your thermostat to regulate temperature in your home and bedroom on a variable basis. You may want to program the thermostat to a higher temperature than you normally would. Also, leave the aircon off unless it is necessary.
It is imperative to ensure that your aircon is well maintained and that the filters are cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. An aircon, especially the filters, can become a breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms such as mold and fungi. Spores from the mold/fungi and the bacteria can be released into the cooler air that is emitted by your aircon. These can result in a variety of different illnesses and diseases. Some of these illnesses are more serious than others and can in some cases be fatal such as Legionnaires’ disease which commonly affects ducted systems.
While most of the risks of running a clean and well-maintained aircon do not pose a great risk to your health and well-being, it is important to take precautions. Make sure you service your air conditioner regularly to minimize the risk. These precautions will ensure that you get sufficient sleep while protecting your mental and physical health.