Can poor air quality make you tired?

In this blog post, we will discuss “can poor air quality make you tired?” Firstly, this article will briefly introduce you to the basics of air pollution. Secondly, we will outline the facts about the air quality index and the meaning behind it. Finally, the article will mainly focus on why poor air quality makes you tired. In the end, the report will share essential tips to decrease the air pollution around you. 

Can poor air quality make you tired?

Yes, poor air quality can make you tired and sluggish. The pollutants present in the air can decrease your blood’s oxygen levels, which makes your body unhealthy. The following contaminants make you tired:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Smoke

Before going into its detail, let’s go-ahead to see the facts of air pollution.

What is air pollution? 

The introduction of harmful agents into the atmosphere is known as air pollution. The toxic agents are known as pollutants. These pollutants are derived from natural and human activities, and they can be chemical or biological.

Major pollutants present in the air are particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone (O3), NO2, SO2, and CO. Air also has lead, allergens, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Besides climate change, air pollution has become a significant environmental risk to human health. 

Therefore, striving towards minimising air pollution can also help to improve climate change mitigation efforts. In addition, reducing emissions will enhance the quality of air.

What is indoor and outdoor pollution?

Air pollution in the outside environment is called ambient pollution or outdoor pollution. Some of the examples are the transportation sector, energy generation, industries, dust storms, etc. Air pollution created inside any closed structure is called indoor pollution or household pollution. Cooking activities, cleaning and dusting of house, use of scents and perfumes, etc. Are some of the examples of indoor air pollution.

 Let’s see what Air Quality Index is. 

What is AQI, and what levels make it unhealthy?

Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has determined the air quality index (AQI) to know the air quality you inhale. The table given below will show how the air quality index looks like.

Air Quality Index (AQI)Levels of Health Concern
(When the AQI is in this range)(air quality conditions are)
0 to 50Good           
51 to 100Moderate
101 to 150Unhealthy for Sensitive group
151 to 200Unhealthy
201 to 300Very Unhealthy
301 to 500Hazardous

The primary purpose of AQI is to inform residents about the impact of local air quality on their health. The Environment Protection Agency calculates the AQI for five major pollutants: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

The meaning of the Air quality index as mentioned earlier categories are as follows:

Meaning
Air quality is considered satisfactory; air pollution is of little or no risk.
Air quality is acceptable; some pollutants present in the air might be dangerous for a minority of people who are very sensitive to air pollution.
Members of sensitive groups may get ill effects. However, the general public is likely not to get affected.
This air quality level can pose a threat to everyone. However, members of sensitive people may experience more severe effects.
Emergency level of air quality; Entire population might be affected
Health alert: Every person breathing such air quality may get serious health issues.

 Thus, it is clear that excluding the first two levels are relatively good to venture out and to do various outdoor activities. However, the last three levels will give you or other adverse effects by inhaling dirty air. The above section will explain the health effects due to polluted air.

What are the health effects of air pollution?

Environmental studies have proved that PM2.5 and PM10 have caused relevant harm to public health. Both pollutants can deeply penetrate inside your lungs. PM2.5 can enter your bloodstream, which results in various respiratory and cardiovascular ailments. It can also affect other organs. WHO has declared these two pollutants as carcinogenic elements.

The detailed adverse effects on human health are as follows:

  • Respiratory ailments: COPD, asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, common cold and cough, throat infection, lung cancer, chest congestion, sinus congestion, etc. 
  • Cardiovascular diseases: Heart attack, cardiac arrest, chest pain, heart blockage, stroke, etc. 
  • Mental disorders: Anxiety, insomnia, depression, low productivity, irritation, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, brain stroke, paralysis, etc.

The other effects of air pollution are low sperm counts, low reproductive ability, infertility and congenital infant disabilities.

 Now let’s see ahead of the exact relation between poor air quality and your sluggish behaviour.

The Science behind poor air quality and tiredness

Do you feel sluggish all the time? Do you think of resting on your couch and mindlessly scrolling your cellphones? Your workload may not always be the reason for such exhaustion. But, the air you breathe might be.

Researchers are trying to establish the link between poor air quality and tiredness. Your energy levels depend upon the air quality you breathe in. You must be wondering how it is possible. Let me simplify you further.

Indoor and outdoor pollution can make you equally exhausted, confused and lower your work efficiency. The toxic pollutant soup which you inhale through your nose can deeply penetrate inside your lungs. Now, these pollutants, along with oxygen, gets dissolved in your bloodstream.

Any living matter receiving less oxygen will feel drowsy, and your overall body system will not work correctly. This is what exactly happens when more pollutant-infused blood circulates in your body. Contaminants such as particulate matter, ash, soot, dust and ground-level ozone are nasty and destroy red blood cells present in your blood vessels.

This results in the lowering of the body’s oxygen-carrying capacity. The consequence of such transition is that your brains, muscles and other vital organs remain depleted of sufficient oxygen. An insufficient supply of oxygen fluctuates your mood levels, makes you irritated and makes lethargic all the time.

The International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics researchers suggested that exhaustion is majorly caused due to complex interactions between SO2, CO, and NO2. Environmentalists have also keenly observed that high air quality alerts directly correspond to the energy levels of humans. You can experience such a type of laziness when you vigorously exercise outdoors in polluted air. Prolonged exposure to impure amounts of air leads to insufficient oxygen supply. Even the carbon monoxide generated from your vehicles have the same power to lessen your oxygen levels. 

Similarly, indoor air pollution can also make you an unnecessary potato couch. Most of the time, pollutants originating from household activities tend to stick to your linen dresses, carpets, furniture covers and so on, can disrupt your productivity levels and can cause fatigue. 

Another classic reason for tiredness is improper sleeping efficiency. Poor indoor air quality levels can irritate your airway tracts, making your sinus congested. Such a process ultimately affects your breathing. As a result, shortness of breath can disrupt your sleep. And if you don’t receive an excellent undisturbed sleep, you will feel sluggish for the next whole day.

Air experts worldwide believe that unhealthy air levels can cause chronic sleep deprivation, sleep apnea and other sleeping disorders. All these types of sleeping disorders result in making you feel exhausted.

But no worry, below, I have given you solutions to uplift your mood and make you energetic. Follow the following steps: 

What can I do to protect myself from air pollution?

I will elaborate on some of the measures to protect yourself from air pollution.

Personal Hygiene

You can also fight the effects of air pollution by maintaining personal hygiene:

  • You can cut your nails short to avoid the accumulation of dirt. 
  • You can also practice mouth gargling after coming home to free your mouth from unwanted guests.
  • You can also brush twice a day to keep airborne infections at bay.
  • You can also take steam therapy at home to cleanse your lungs.

Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. It’s best to stop smoking. Active and passive smoking provides the direct entry of harmful pollutants into your body. This causes the risk to your respiration and other organs dependent on it. 

Physical Exercise 

Physical activities have many benefits to your body. It not only improves your stamina and immunity levels but also helps to increase your lung capacity. Yoga, sanas, swimming, running, cycling, brisk walking and dancing are some of the best forms of exercise to improve your health.

Breathing Exercise 

The majority of people in the world don’t breathe properly. However, correct breathing techniques can keep illnesses due to air pollution at bay. A pranayama is a form of yoga asana which helps to improve breathing methods and lung functionality.

Some of the pranayama types that help you fight air pollution are Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom, Chandra Nadi, Surya Nadi and Bhastrika. It is strongly recommended to learn this art of breath from a well-certified yoga trainer. 

You can also increase your lung muscles by simply taking a deep breath and holding it for a count of 10. Then, slowly breathe out the air. If you can keep your breath for a longer time, then you have good lungs health.

Good diet 

Always go for a well-balanced diet to remain fit and strong. Consistent eating of junk and fast food will increase the risk of obesity and other diseases. In addition, such people are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of air pollution. Instead, add more fresh veggies and fruits to your diet. Also, you can consume less meat to minimise carbon footprints.

You can also add anti-inflammatory foods as these types of food help to cleanse your lungs effectively. Anti-inflammatory foods which I recommend are: 

Immunity booster drinks

You can do your immunity booster drinks by using readily available items in your kitchen. Immunity booster drinks help to cleanse your lungs. Some of the DIY immunity booster drinks are as follows:

  • Take a glass of warm white milk. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Also, add two strands of saffron to it. Drink it at night before sleeping. You will get good sleep, and you will be relieved from chest congestion. 
  • Boil water by adding half cinnamon stick. Drink the spice-infused water once a day. Your sinuses would be cleared up. 
  • Buy an excellent green tea. Prepare a green tea by following the packet instructions. Have it whenever you feel irritation in your throat. 
  • Take some crushed 1 or 2 peppercorns, a half-inch of a blade of lemongrass and 1 inch of grated ginger and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Add everything in one glass of boiling water and reduce it to half a glass. Drink two tablespoons of this spice-infused warm water every after three hours. Adding honey is optional. 
  • You can also drink warm water and add honey if you want. Honey helps to relieve throat irritation.

Use Mask

Mask can prevent you from inhaling the polluted air. You would be able to work in contaminated areas without any fear of allergy infections and stress. 

Masks I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
BASE CAMP CROSSDUST MASKEAPI Filter Technology & Advanced NanotechnologyUser FriendlyMore Durable Six layers face maskFilter materials of the dust mask: Double-Layer Melt-blown with Electrostatic Adsorption Performance, Activated carbon, Non-woven Polypropylene
NIOSH approved N95 maskFour layers mask Flexible nose pad, dual strapsDisposable maskEasy to breathe
BASE CAMP Reusable Cloth Face MaskThree layers mask; 100% cotton Skin-friendly and breathablePocket to add additional filterReusable Mask

How can I individually reduce air pollution?

You can always try your level best to minimise air pollution. The following are the methods to reduce air pollution at an individual level.

Plant Trees

Encourage tree plantation drives amongst the communities. You can be a green saviour of your region. Trees are the natural air purifiers of the environment, and it supplies us with clean air.

Municipal councils or the local authorities can develop urban forests to increase the green cover of the locality. They can also plan to create vertical green walls to improve oxygen levels of the region naturally. But don’t forget to plant only indigenous trees. 

Human/ religious celebrations in eco-friendly ways 

Nowadays, many couples celebrate gender (of their baby) revealing parties by bursting firecrackers. But, unfortunately, these firecrackers can transform into massive wildfires if they are burst near trees.

Thus, you can celebrate such celebrations by planting trees in your nearby barren land. Bursting firecrackers on any religious, festive or personal occasion are only going to harm your loved ones. 

You can also celebrate Christmas by not cutting Christmas Trees. Instead, you can buy artificial ones and use them in the coming years too.

Discourage Plastic

Single-use plastic has been one of the major concerns in the environment. Plastic pollution indirectly contributes to the degradation of air quality. Plastic, when burned, releases various toxic gases such as dioxins into the air.

Encourage alternative use of the plastic product. For example, you can wear a cloth bag for shopping. You can also carry your travel cutlery set to a restaurant. Additionally, you can take your water bottle instead of purchasing a packaged drinking water bottle every time.

Use of public transportation 

Increase the use of public transport to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion. You can also try carpooling or the cab sharing option. Then, you can also use bicycles instead of scooters. Lastly, you can always opt for walking a shorter distance. 

Alternative use of fossil fuel

It would be best to try switching to other fuel alternatives. For example, don’t use wood for the fireplace. Instead, you can wear multiple layers of clothes for warmth. In this way, you can conserve energy. Additionally, you can also install solar panels on house roofs to convert solar energy into electricity. 

You can also buy electric and hybrid vehicles to minimise tailpipe emissions. Finally, propose or discuss a plan with your mayor or any relevant local authority to promote your region’s renewable energy sector.

Reduction of personal carbon footprints

You can also keep a check on your carbon footprints. For example, you can delete unwanted photos, videos or emails from clouds and email boxes as and when possible. Unfortunately, this unwanted stuff takes a lot of energy, which indirectly contributes to air pollution.

You can also switch off the lights and electrical appliances of the vacant rooms. Try buying local products instead of imported ones. Be vocal about them. You can also discover your own country rather than travelling to different ones.

Create Awareness

Air pollution is unpredictable; air pollution in your vicinity can affect people living in Asia and vice-a-versa. However, you can create public awareness about air pollution amongst your community by teaching and interacting with your kids about the importance of good air. 

Educate youth by telling them the ill effects of poor air quality. Then, let your country’s future know that they deserve a better place to live!

How can the local authorities improve the air quality of your region?

You can always observe the changes happening in your surrounding nature. If you experience bad air quality or any activities producing air pollution, you can always concern relevant local authorities or the mayor.

Here are some methods which local authorities can do.

Proper disposal of waste 

Improper solid waste management of an area is an invitation to many diseases and infections. In addition, burning solid waste in public can cause air pollution, although such practices are rare in the US. 

The wastes are mainly disposed of in the engineered landfills and recycled before final disposal to landfills and waste incinerators. 

In addition, waste incinerators help to convert waste into energy.

However, many researchers have claimed that gasification technology or waste-to-energy technology may release harmful gaseous contaminants. Thus, it is necessary that waste collectors rigorously segregate the waste before sending it to waste incinerators. 

The best solution is to minimise waste at a personal level. Statistically, 70% of the waste generated can be recycled effectively. Thus, strive to recycle your waste at a personal level as much as possible.

Reducing air pollution from agriculture

Stubble burning is still practised in some parts of the US. This event contributes to the degradation of air. Local authorities can help farmers convert this waste into cattle fodder or be transformed into pellets as fuel. In addition, farmers should stop the usage of harmful pesticides or fertilisers to decrease air pollution.

How can I reduce indoor air pollution?

Maintaining household or indoor hygiene

You can decrease poor air quality by adequately maintaining indoor hygiene. For example, you can frequently clean your cupboards and open decks to avoid an accumulation of dust particles. You can then vacuum your carpets and sofas at least twice a week. 

Make sure your doggies and cats are well-groomed. Use chimneys and exhaust fans in kitchens. You can also install an exhaust fan in washrooms. Always make sure you are keeping your house well ventilated. 

Keep doors and windows open when possible. Maintain the health of electric appliances such as heaters, humidifiers, AC, fans, air ducts and so on at regular intervals of the year. Avoid overuse of strong perfumes or strong scented candles indoors. You can additionally use indoor plants to make your indoors more lively and fresh.

Indoor plants

Indoor plants do the same work as outdoor ones- they help to purify indoor air naturally. These indoor plants are also easy to maintain.

The indoor plants which I recommend are as follows: 

Air purifiers

Air purifiers help to improve indoor air quality. The risk of getting air pollution-related diseases decreases due to the use of air purifiers. Air purifiers having good HEPA filters do an adequate job of filtering pollutants.

Air Purifiers I recommend are as follows:

NameWhy I recommend it
Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured. 
AIRMEGA 400SReduction of 99.97% of particulates of 0.3 microns. Also responsible for reducing more than 99% of VOCs, NH3 and CH3CHO.Washable and permanent pre-filters are available 
Blueair Pure 121Includes 3-part filtration system. Captures 99% of common airborne PM 2.5 pollutants such as allergens, odours, smoke, mould spores, dust mites and pet dander.An activated carbon filter removes common odours caused by smoke, pets, and gases (VOCs) and smoke caused by wildfires.

Humidifiers

The humidity levels in the office should be maintained between 30 and 50% in the office. This range helps to keep dust mites, mould and other allergens under control. In addition, when AC or heater makes the air in the room dry, humidifiers can maintain correct humidity levels.

Humidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Amazon Basics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier 4 litre of tank capacityAuto shut-off feature and 12 or 24-hour timer settingsIt can be used in both seasons
MOVTIP HumidifierPortable Mini-humidifier500 ml capacity, still produces longer mistsEasy to operate
LEVOIT HumidifierIt can be used for both seasons6 litres of capacity Easy to clean and has a remote control

Dehumidifiers 

Dehumidifiers also work similarly to humidifiers. It controls the high levels of humidity in the office.

Dehumidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Pro Breeze DehumidifierCan extract 50 pints of moisture a dayEnergy-saving auto-off systemBuilt-in Humidity sensor
HOmeLabs DehumidifierEliminates moistness, odour controllerEasy to cleanRemovable water tank
TCL Portable Dehumidifier20 pints of moisture removed per dayIt can be operated at low temperatures tooEasy to maintain

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

Can Bad Air Quality Give You Diarrhea?

Can bad air quality increase blood pressure?

How can you protect yourself from bad air quality?

Conclusion

In this blog post, we discussed, “can poor air quality make you tired?” Firstly, this article briefly introduced you to the basics of air pollution. Secondly, we outlined the facts about the air quality index and the meaning behind it. Finally, the article mainly focused on why poor air quality makes you tired. In the end, the report shared essential tips to decrease the air pollution around you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can poor air quality make you tired?

Can bad air quality make you sleepy?

Yes, bad air quality makes you exhausted because of the increased pollutants in the air. In addition, many people feel sluggish when the air quality levels are unhealthy. Thus, you should avoid exercising outside at such times.

What are the symptoms of poor air quality?

The symptoms of poor air quality are as follows:

  • Dryness and irritation of airway tracts such as nose and throat.
  • Dryness and irritation of eyes and skin.
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Hypersensitivity and allergies
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Sinus and chest congestion

How does terrible air quality make you feel?

Bad air quality doesn’t make you feel lively and fresh. On the contrary, your productivity levels go down, and you can feel irritated.

Does wearing a mask help with poor air quality?

Yes, wearing a mask help you with poor air quality levels. Studies have shown that wearing a mask has reduced exposure to PM2.5 levels and airborne particles. As a result, the chances of getting ill and other diseases also get reduced. However, you need adequately cover your mouth and nose with a mask.

How do you recover from poor air quality?

You can recover from poor air quality by following steps:

  • If you are unwell, please consult GP and take proper medications
  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • Avoid exercising outdoors, especially when air quality levels are poor.
  • Take rest and don’t stress yourself much, remember mental health matters.

How long does it take to recover from poor air quality?

Recovery from poor air quality depends on every person’s immunity system and coping mechanism. However, if the air quality levels are lacking, it may take a few days to recover. In addition, if you are exposed to hazardous levels of air pollution for a longer time, then your body will take months or even years to recover.

References

AIRPRO Indoor Air Solutions. 2019. Why Am I So Tired All the Time? Air Quality Could be the Culprit. [online] Available at http://airprohawaii.com/2019/06/05/why-am-i-so-tired-all-the-time-air-quality-could-be-the-culprit/#:~:text=If%20you%20find%20that%20you,has%20long%20term%20health%20effects  

Hindustan Times. 2015. Fighting fatigue: Here’s why you’re tired without knowing why. [online] Available at https://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/fighting-fatigue-here-s-why-you-re-tired-without-knowing-why/story-tldjKJc6R1rgTkgj62WvGN.html  

Pioneer Thinking. 2013. Don’t Know Why You Feel Tired? Home Pollutants Could Be the Culprit. [online] Available at https://pioneerthinking.com/dont-know-why-you-feel-tired-home-pollutants-could-be-the-culprit/  

Sleepsherpa.com. 2019. Air Quality and Sleep – Are They Interlinked?. [online] Available at https://sleepsherpa.com/air-quality-and-sleep/  

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