How Humidity Impacts Sleep

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


Weird ways the weather can keep people up at night—and how to keep it from disrupting your slumber.

The role that weather plays in how well you sleep may surprise you—especially when it comes to humidity. Unless your bedroom is equipped with air conditioning, a hot, muggy day can lead to less restful slumber. High humidity makes it more difficult for moisture to evaporate off your body, which can make you hot and uncomfortable (not to mention sweaty!). Cotton bedding, which breathes better than silk or polyester sheets, may help keep you cool, as can wicking pajamas (since they pull sweat away from your body). But comfort isn’t the only issue: High humidity can also encourage mold growth, which may affect your sleep if you suffer from mold allergies.

However, a little humidity is actually a good thing. Air that is too dry may also disrupt your shut-eye. Winter weather can dry out your skin and nasal passages, which could make you more susceptible to catching a cold. And coughing, sneezing, and dealing with a stuffy nose don’t mix well with sleep. Even if you have the immune system of a champ and never get sick, the dry air may lead to a dry, itchy, irritated throat, which can make it harder to fall asleep.

You can’t control the weather, of course, but you can control how the humidity level affects your bedroom. To ensure the best sleep possible, aim to keep your bedroom's humidity level at about 50% year-round, which may mean investing in a dehumidifier for the summer and a humidifier for the winter.