Clean up your Bedroom: Air Quality and Sleeping

Bedroom Air Quality Benefits
Good air quality in your bedroom, as well as in the rest of your home, is important for a number of reasons. It helps decrease allergic problems to dust mites and mold. If you are waking up with a stuffed-up nose or excessive mucous, it could be due to air-quality problems. These problems can be exacerbated with the development of bronchitis and upper respiratory tract infections. If your bronchial linings and nasal passages are not always preoccupied with clearing your airways of dust and particulate matter in the air, they will be better able to assist you in becoming infection free.

Good Bedroom Air Quality May Decrease Snoring
Good air quality helps to decrease the swelling of the turbinate membranes in your nose. This is important to anyone who has nasal congestion as well as for people who snore. Snoring can be caused by nasal turbinate swelling and if so, it will usually decrease or go away with better bedroom air quality. If it is due to lower airway factors, such as the tissues in the back of the throat, it may also be improved if there is a component of nasal snoring. If these membranes get swollen and inflamed, they can block off your sinuses and lead to sinus infections. It is very important for any individual with chronic sinus infections to have excellent bedroom air quality.

Contributors to Poor Bedroom Air Quality
A number of factors can contribute to lowering the quality of air in your bedroom. These include: carpets, rugs, chemicals in flooring, forced-air heating and dust accumulation on surfaces. These factors also apply to the air in your house.

Carpets and Rugs
Carpets are generally not a good idea for your bedroom. They collect dust and mold. The older they are, the less clean they become. If you have carpets, clean them twice a week with a strong vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Steam cleaning can also help. Neither vacuuming nor steam cleaning can lower the particulate matter coming off of the carpet into the air. Rugs can be a source of particulate matter. Vacuum your rugs regularly. If you are thinking about getting new rugs, consider all wool that has a minimum of chemicals in the processing. Limit the area of the rug and choose one with an appearance with the least likelihood to have particulate matter in the air.

Hardwood Floors
If you have bedroom wall-to-wall carpets, you might want to consider getting them removed and replaced with hardwood floors. If you use hardwood floors, consider pre-finished wood to decrease the sawdust. Avoid laminate flooring as there are chemicals that can release gas and alter air quality. If you get hardwood floors installed, ask for a low VOC content sealant and finish for the floors. Also have someone help you dust and vacuum the sawdust after the job.

Bedroom Heating
The cleanest heating system is wall-mounted radiant heat in which hot water circulates in radiators and sends heat into the room. You can have a bedroom or a whole house retrofitted for this. If you have forced-air heat, have the vents cleaned at least once a year. Also, consider a HEPA filter for your furnace.

Air Filters
You can get an air filter for your bedroom which will help improve the air quality. A good air filter will have a fan to move air into the filter and a HEPA filter to clean the air. Consumer Reports evaluated air filters to check their ability to improve air quality and the ratings can be found on its Web site (www.consumerreports.org). Filters that are only electrostatic do not move enough air through and do not significantly reduce the particulate matter.

Keep the Harmful Chemicals to a Minimum
These chemicals are in new carpets as well as in regular paint and in most furniture. Particle board and most MDF have formaldehyde. It is best to go with all-wood furniture in your bedroom.

Bring in the Fresh Air
Open your windows when it is not too cold outside and bring in some fresh air. Most outside air is a lot cleaner than indoor air. If you put in new windows, use double pain insulated windows. Also, look for sliding windows with air movement slats on the edges to help create a nice circulation of air even when the window is closed.

Cleaning Up
It is a good idea to dust a bedroom at least once a week with a moist dusting surface. Vacuuming carpets or hardwood floors with a HEPA vacuum is very important.

Your Pillows and Bedding
It is good to use mite covers on your pillows. Occasionally, it is also good to wash and dry your pillows and bedding under high heat.

Other Tips
Avoid air fresheners as they only emit chemicals that can be irritating and only cover up odours. If you have odours in your bedroom, you will need to determine the source and make sure that you do not have mold growing. You can get air filters that have charcoal filtration to clear the air of odours.