Case Study: Connection Between Mold and Insomnia
Getting a good night's sleep isn't always easy. While there are several reasons why you could be experiencing sleep problems, you should never overlook the possibility of mold exposure. As it turns out, mold and insomnia can be closely correlated. Here's what you should know.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a relatively common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. Either way, this leads to low-quality sleep that can leave you feeling completely exhausted the next day. A 2020 report by the CDC found that 14.5% of adults in the U.S. had trouble falling asleep most days or every day. Other global studies estimate that roughly 33% of people suffer from insomnia.
Part of why insomnia is so common is because it can result from many different issues. Stress, changes to your work schedule, uncomfortable temperatures, and exposure to light or noise can all disrupt sleep. A lack of exercise, taking long naps, and using alcohol or caffeine before bed could also be to blame. Mold exposure isn't commonly thought of as a reason for insomnia, but it shouldn't be overlooked.
Can Mold Exposure Cause Insomnia?
The need for mold treatment isn't just limited to humid areas like the bathroom or kitchen. Without mold remediation, spores can circulate in the bedroom as well. Condensation on windows and dampness under the carpet could also lead to mold growth in the bedroom.
The Sleep Foundation reports that when mold is present in the bedroom, it can increase your risk for several sleep problems. Aside from insomnia, people who sleep seven hours or more in a moldy bedroom are more likely to experience sleep disturbances, snoring, and excess daytime sleepiness.
What Are the Symptoms of Mold-Related Sleep Disturbances?
At first glance, mold-related insomnia is unlikely to appear much different than other forms of insomnia. You may lie in bed for hours, tossing and turning before you are finally able to fall asleep. Or you'll wake up in the middle of the night or extra early in the morning, and have difficulty falling back asleep (if you can fall back asleep at all).
Unsurprisingly, this will leave you feeling completely exhausted the next day. A lack of sleep can leave you so fatigued that you may be more likely to fall asleep at work or while driving. Poor sleep can also make you more irritable and make it harder to focus on other activities during the day.
However, the exposure to mold spores can result in additional complications besides insomnia. Indoor molds are a common cause behind allergic rhinitis. Aside from insomnia, this condition has also been linked with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the muscles in your throat collapse during sleep, blocking off the flow of air. Your brain, recognizing a lack of oxygen, essentially forces you to wake up to start breathing again. These sleep interruptions can occur dozens of times per hour (even if you don't remember them), keeping you from getting deep sleep. Irritation from allergic rhinitis makes your throat muscles more likely to collapse.
So what is the Connection Between Mold and Insomnia
A study from Environment International Journal provides a more in-depth look at some of the connections that have been found regarding the relationship between mold and insomnia.
Background of the Case Study
For their study, the researchers noted that several other issues relating to insomnia (like excess noise or smoking) were already well-documented. However, the research on how dampness and mold affected insomnia, snoring, and excess daytime sleepiness was not as well-known. As a result, the researchers decided to perform a longitudinal study to look at how mold and dampness could affect insomnia.
The study started by sending a questionnaire to over 20,000 adults in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Estonia. The first questionnaires were sent out in 1990, asking a variety of questions about participants' respiratory health, any sleep disturbances they experienced, and their indoor environment for both home and work.
Follow-up surveys were sent in 2000 and 2010, with a final total of 11,318 who participated in all three surveys.
For sleep disturbances, participants were asked to rate their difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up early in the morning on a scale of "never, less than once a week, 1-2 nights/days per week, 3-5 nights/days per week, and almost nightly/daily."
Participants were also given a series of yes/no questions about signs of mold or dampness in their home or workplace in the previous 12 months. Study participants were also asked about other lifestyle circumstances (such as smoking or chronic bronchitis) that could contribute to sleep problems.
Based on the extensive survey data collected over the decades, researchers found that when people had mold odor, floor dampness, or visible mold in the home, they were far more likely to experience the insomnia symptoms of trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or early morning awakenings. They were also more likely to start snoring.
Interestingly, mold exposure at work was also linked to insomnia symptoms and other sleep disturbances. Even after adjusting for other respiratory disorders that could also impair sleep, the link between mold exposure and insomnia remained.
The researchers offered several reasons why mold could be to blame for insomnia: "Damp and moldy environment may cause irritation and inflammation in mucus membrane or airways. […] Working in mold contaminated buildings has found to be associated with adult nasal inflammation. Nasal obstruction is a well-known risk factor for sleep disturbances. Moreover, odors can lead to unpleasant perceptions (sensory impairment) during sleep causing sleep disturbances."
What to Do if You Have Mold-Induced Insomnia
If you've been suffering from insomnia and it's interfering with your daily life, you should consult with a doctor. Mold may or may not be to blame, but visiting a doctor to describe your symptoms is an important first step. Your doctor can help you determine which issues are contributing to your insomnia and offer treatment recommendations.
That being said, if you have seen mold in your home or noticed mold odors, you should mention this to your doctor and then look into getting mold remediation.
At Mold Act, we offer comprehensive mold remediation services to eliminate mold growth from your property. Our trained technicians work systematically, using eco-friendly cleaning solutions to eliminate all mold inside the home. We will find and address the source of mold growth so you can prevent future mold growth.
By eliminating the mold that has been disrupting your sleep, your nightly rest should return to normal.
Precautions to Address Mold as a Contributor to Insomnia
Of course, the best way to address mold-related insomnia is to prevent mold growth from occurring in the first place.
There are several things you can do to ensure that mold doesn't disrupt your sleep:
- Keep indoor humidity below 50%. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep levels low.
- Vent humid air from the bathroom and kitchen to the outside with an exhaust fan.
- Fix plumbing leaks as quickly as possible.
- Clean up and dry your property within 24 hours of any flood damage.
- Clean up and dry your property within 24 hours of any flood damage.
- Completely dry bedroom carpets after a water spill. Failure to dry these areas could result in mold growth beneath the carpet.
Remember, mold growth doesn't have to start in the bedroom to disrupt your sleep. Left unchecked, mold spores can spread throughout the house and cause insomnia and other symptoms. Taking care of mold concerns in every part of the home will help you sleep well at night.
Eliminate Mold From Your Home With Mold Act
Mold exposure can disrupt your sleep and contribute to a wide variety of additional health complications. The longer you let the exposure last, the worse your symptoms can become.
Don't let this happen! Protect your family and restore your sleep by enlisting the help of Mold Act. Our certified team is licensed and insured for your protection. We provide prompt mold removal services, cleaning and sanitizing your property while also taking steps to prevent future outbreaks so you can get the sleep you need. Contact us today at 877-660-0430 to get started.
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