Home heating and humidity (or lack of it) may play a role in staying healthy through the winter. These colder days likely find us turning the thermostat up, which also dries out the air, as well as our bodies. Dry sinuses make it harder for the immune system to arm itself against a virus, and dry skin is just plain uncomfortable. In fact, low indoor humidity may actually promote the transmission of flu and viruses. For example, with higher humidity, viruses expelled in a sneeze will likely attach to water molecules and drop out of the air before they can trigger a new infection. In a dry room however, those viruses can float around until they reach their next target. What can we do?
One way to add more moisture to your home environment is by using a humidifier. Studies show that having your home environment at around 40% humidity supports health and well-being, particularly in the winter months. Simply sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom delivers a number of health benefits.
•Reduce risk of infections. Viruses and bacteria can’t travel as well in moist air. And a hydrated body supports the body’s natural defenses. A humidifier could help you avoid catching that traveling virus this winter.
•Soothe dry skin. Cold, dry air saps moisture from your skin, which causes all kinds of problems, including dryness, dullness, flaking, itchiness and accelerated aging. A night time humidifier hydrates your body while you sleep.
•Comfort sinuses. When the air is dry, sinuses don’t drain and function well, reducing your resistance to bacteria and viruses. A dry environment exacerbates congestion and sinusitis.
•Alleviate snoring. The moisture from a humidifier keeps the throat from drying out, consequently reducing the intensity of that snoring sound. Maybe not a 100% fix but it helps everybody sleep a bit better.
•Reduce nose bleeds. Keeping your nasal passages lubricated is essential to prevent nosebleeds. Many people who regularly experience nosebleeds have found great relief from using a bedroom humidifier.
•Speed Healing. Whether it be a cold, asthma, or allergies, a humidifier keeps your nasal passages and throat lubricated which helps speed up the healing process and provide some relief from coughs, sneezing and sore throats.
You can measure the humidity in your bedroom or house by using an inexpensive device called a hygrometer. These are available at your local hardware store and of course, on Amazon for under $10. As for which humidifier to purchase, there are many options. A quick search will uncover three main types: warm mist, cool mist and ultrasonic. The size of room where it will be used, how much water it holds, and how much maintenance it requires will all be factors in determining your choice. In addition, there are many varieties that accommodate essential oils to enhance the air with scents and health properties. I have a 300ml cool mist humidifier (the one in the photo) and have been using it at night next to my bed for the last month or so. I also put some essential oils in the water, which I love. Lately I'm using Health Shield, Breathe or Good Sleep essential oils by Healing Solutions. I'll write about those in another post soon.
The bottom line: Keeping your environment hydrated really does help bolster your body’s resilience to viruses, reduces the virus’ airborne success and fends off the discomfort that the dry, cold days of winter can bring.