Most people think of their bedroom as a sanctuary and place of relaxation, but it could unknowingly make you sick. For instance, unwashed bedding or poor air quality may cause allergies to flare up, leading to sleep problems and low energy. However, we can safeguard ourselves from these hazards by removing sources of dangerous chemicals and frequently dusting.

Keeping your bedroom healthy and free from toxins will help you feel refreshed when you wake up each morning. Also, you’ll lower your risk of developing serious health problems such as asthma, insomnia, and migraines. You can improve your overall well-being by identifying and addressing the hidden health hazards in your bedroom.

Is Your Bedroom Making You Sick?

Look for these commonly overlooked dangers in your room that could contribute to poor health.


1. Dirty Bedding Can Make You Sick

If you can’t remember the last time you washed your sheets, your bedding may attract dust mites and bacteria. While it’s an unpleasant thought, your bedroom harbors various foreign invaders invisible to the naked eye that accumulate in comforters and sheets.

According to dermatologist Alok Vij, MD, most people lose about 1.5 grams of dead skin cells, or keratinocytes, daily. Most of these skin cells are shed into your bedding because sheets create friction with the skin. If you don’t wash your sheets often, bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) feed on these dead skin cells.

While these bacteria usually don’t cause harm, they could result in severe skin infections if you have an open wound. S. aureus is highly contagious, and some strains have shown a resistance to antibiotics, increasing the potential to make you sick.

Another study by Amerisleep found that the most common type of bacteria in sheets were gram-negative rods, which can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis. Researchers also discovered bacilli in bedding, bacteria that trigger food poisoning, respiratory illnesses, and wound infections.

Finally, dirty bedding may provide the perfect breeding ground for dust mites, microscopic insects that feed on dead skin and can exacerbate allergies.

To keep your bedroom healthy and free from pests, wash your sheets and pillowcases at least once every two weeks.

2. Poor Air Quality in the Bedroom Might Make You Sick

Indoor air pollution can also make you sick and lead to asthma or allergies. According to the CDC, typical sources of indoor air pollution in bedrooms include:

  • tobacco smoke and candles
  • gas space heaters or other unvented heating devices
  • building materials such as pressed wood products or asbestos-containing insulation
  • mold, mildew, and pollen
  • certain household cleaning and personal care products
  • pet dander, urine, and saliva
  • dust mites, cockroaches, and other pests

Mounting evidence shows that poor air quality can worsen allergies and asthma because it restricts airways and causes lung inflammation. The most common pollutants known to exacerbate allergic reactions include nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, molds, and allergens from pests.

To improve indoor air quality and avoid getting sick, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America offers the following advice:

  • remove or reduce allergens, such as pests
  • avoid using tobacco products indoors
  • keep humidity levels low to prevent mold and mildew
  • open windows and doors to increase ventilation
  • avoid lighting scented candles or other fragrances
  • install HEPA air filters to reduce airborne pollutants
  • buy indoor plants that purify the air

3. Chemical Exposure Can Make You Sick

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include chemicals commonly found in household furniture, building materials, and cleaners. They’re released as gases into the environment and can make you sick if you’re frequently exposed. According to the American Lung Association, everyday sources of VOCs include:

  • building materials such as paint, varnishes, and flooring
  • home & personal care products like furniture, bedding, cleaners, and air fresheners
  • tobacco smoke and arts & crafts projects involving glues and permanent markers

The most common VOC forms are flame retardants and formaldehyde, which link to cancer, hormone and thyroid disruption, and breathing difficulties. Other health problems associated with these chemicals include immune dysfunction, developmental neurotoxicity, nausea, and nervous system damage.

Since companies use them in numerous products, they can be difficult to avoid entirely. However, to reduce your exposure to VOCs, avoid smoking, safely dispose of products containing VOCs, and look for products with “low or zero-VOC” labels.


4. Dust Accumulation Can Cause Allergy Flareups

Dust allergies can also make you sick if you don’t clean your home regularly. Household dust contains many compounds, including pet dander, mold spores, dust mites, pollen, and dead skin cells. While dust allergies usually don’t cause severe symptoms, they can become a nuisance if you have a runny nose, headache, or difficulty breathing. If you live in a humid environment, you may have mold spores in your bedroom and develop common allergy symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes. However, some people experience more severe reactions like fever or shortness of breath.

The best way to protect yourself from dust allergies involves dusting furniture regularly, washing sheets and bedding, and vacuuming carpeted areas. Also, if you live in a humid area, buy a dehumidifier to prevent mold and mildew from growing.

5. Inadequate Ventilation in the Bedroom Can Make You Sick

If you have poor ventilation in your bedroom, it can lead to stale air, condensation, and carbon dioxide buildup. Stagnant air contains harmful pollutants such as VOCs, dust, mold, and other allergens that can cause breathing issues. Also, improper ventilation leads to a lack of oxygen, making the air feel stuffy and dense.

Studies show that sleeping in a room with high CO2 concentrations reduces sleep quality and cognitive abilities the following day. In addition, condensation and excess moisture will accumulate in a home without sufficient ventilation, which could encourage mold growth.

Running the air conditioner, opening windows, using ceiling fans, and frequently changing air filters can improve ventilation in your home.

6. Poor Lighting Causes Eye Strain and Irritability

Using your smartphone or computer before bed can cause health problems such as sleep disruption, eye strain, and mood disorders. Countless studies have found that using blue light-emitting devices in the evening suppresses melatonin production and disrupts the circadian rhythm.

Your brain associates the light with wakefulness, so falling asleep takes longer than average. If you suffer from chronic sleep deprivation or insomnia, you may develop psychological problems such as depression or anxiety.

In addition, research shows that excessive use of digital devices can cause eye strain because you don’t blink as often. That leads to dry, irritated eyes, headaches, and stiff facial muscles caused by lack of movement.

While blue lights make you alert and stimulated, lamps that emit orange or red light can induce a calm, restful mood. Try softer lighting at night or turn off devices a few hours before bed.

7. Poor Sleep Environment Can Leave You Exhausted In the Morning

Finally, a peaceful, relaxing sleeping environment is essential for adequate rest. You should maintain a comfortable temperature between 60-67 degrees F in your bedroom to optimize your circadian rhythm. Also, eliminate noise and distractions in your room, such as music and TV, to prepare your mind for sleep. A loud environment will make you restless and overstimulated, making it harder to get much-needed beauty rest.

Finally, ensure you have comfortable bedding, such as cozy, breathable blankets and a mattress that suits your preference. An old mattress can cause joint and muscle pain if the springs push against your body.

If you have noisy neighbors who play music all night, consider buying noise-canceling headphones. Also, turn down the temperature if you experience night sweats, and consider purchasing a new mattress or blankets to feel more relaxed at bedtime. Making your bedroom as pleasant as possible will help you enjoy restorative sleep and avoid getting sick as often.


Final Thoughts on Hidden Health Hazards in The Bedroom

You may look forward to relaxing at home after a long workday, but your bedroom may have hidden dangers. Research shows that many household items and cleaners contain toxic chemicals such as VOCs that can cause health problems. In addition, unwashed bedding and accumulated dust can trigger allergies and breathing issues. Finally, inadequate ventilation, bright lights before bedtime, and poor sleep hygiene can make you sick.

However, if you know how to create a healthy bedroom by cleaning often and buying nontoxic furniture and bedding, you can avoid these hidden threats. Improving sleep quality for better health involves adopting positive habits and ridding your home of potentially harmful chemicals. It may seem overwhelming to address these issues, but tackling them one step at a time will improve your health in the long run.