Sleep News

Sleep Hygiene Tip of the Week: Humidify

You’ve got a fire in the stove. Maybe you’ve cranked up the heater. It’s winter, right? And outside, the relative humidity plummets with a new high pressure zone, leading to high blue skies, but dry air. Bone dry. 

Having trouble sleeping? Even worse… have you noticed that is everyone in your house catching the same virus?

Here’s why this could be.

A household humidity level of 43 percent or higher can significantly reduce the incidence of airborne viral infections, whereas a lower level of humidity leads to more disease transmission via coughing because… guess what? The air is too dry! You cough to encourage mucus flow, introducing more germs into the environment at the same time. 

Humidifying your household air can be done through a whole house system (very common in dry weather winter climates) or via tabletop humidifier units.

In either case, that added boost of moisture in the air is not only going to help keep you and your family healthier, it’s also going to help you keep your upper respiratory system–the sinuses, the nasal passage, the tongue and insides of the mouth, even the vocal cords–soft, pliable, moist and comfortable. Even your eyes and skin will feel better.

The result? Less coughing, sneezing and sore throats throughout the season.

What’s more, humidity can be the ticket for people who snore when the air runs dry. Add some moisture, et voila! No more snoring (or at least it won’t be as loud)! Good not only for snorers but for people who have to sleep with them!

If you are using a humidifier, please remember that you need to keep it clean to avoid developing bacteria and mold.

For personal humidifiers, using distilled or demineralized water can help keep your humidifier cleaner longer and reduce the chances of bacterial growth. A weekly clean is easy and should do the trick. Also, look for filters that may need regular replacing.

Check with your owner’s manual if you are using a whole-house humidifying system to determine its care schedule. This can include replacing filters.

Also, make sure you don’t overhumidify. You can have too much humidity, even in the winter. This can lead to problems with condensation and mildewing.

The best way to check humidity is to use a tool called a hygrometer in the room where the personal humidifier is being used, or set your whole-house system to maintain a level between 40 and 50 percent.

Portable hygrometers are not hard to find: look at discount or hardware stores. There are also decorative “weather stations” many people hang on the walls of their homes that include a hygrometer along with a thermometer and barometer.

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