Effects of Sleeping in a Room Without Windows


Quality sleep is important for both your physical and mental wellbeing. Humans spend around one-third of their lives sleeping – this just goes to show you how much our lives depend on a good night’s rest. To enhance the quality of your sleep, you must ensure that you have optimal and healthy sleeping conditions. So how does sleeping in a room without windows come into play?

Effects of sleeping in a room without windows? Sleeping in a room without windows can have a variety of negative effects on your sleep and health in general. The lack of fresh air due to limited air circulation is both unpleasant and potentially dangerous. Stale air is uncomfortable to breathe in, plus it’s also a breeding ground for microbes and pathogens. Your room can easily become uncomfortably warm due to poor temperature regulation in a windowless room. This can make sleeping feel more suffocating than relaxing. Carbon dioxide buildup in a room without windows will have you waking up with headaches and a general feeling of lethargy, which can affect your productivity. Because a windowless room creates the perfect conditions for mold spores to develop, sleeping in such an environment can cause some serious health conditions such as bronchitis down the line.

Sleeping in a room without windows is hardly ideal. Read on to discover the effects it can have on both your physical and mental health, as well as strategies you can employ to make your windowless room more conducive for sleep.

What are the effects of sleeping in a room without windows?

The effects of sleeping in a windowless room can be broken down into three main categories:

1. Poor ventilation

Windows play a huge role when it comes to ventilation. A windowless room more often than not lacks adequate ventilation, which in turn will likely affect the quality of your sleep.

A. The lack of fresh air is both unpleasant and dangerous

No matter how spacious a room without windows might be, it will always be weighed down by stale air. You may notice that when trying to get some sleep in such an environment, it feels uncomfortable to breathe. 

In addition to being unpleasant to breathe, stale air also provides an ideal environment for bacteria and viruses to thrive. You might have heard of sick building syndrome, a condition that stems from poor ventilation which is characterized by irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat, as well as increased susceptibility to flu. The symptoms tend to occur when one is indoors and typically disappear when one leaves the poorly ventilated area. You may notice these symptoms when you sleep in a room without windows.

B. Carbon dioxide is more likely to build up

On average, humans spend around 6-8 hours asleep every night. Carbon dioxide is naturally released when we exhale, and if the gas has nowhere to go, as is the case in a room without windows, the average carbon dioxide levels will inevitably increase, especially if more than one person is sleeping in the space. 

A room that has abnormally high levels of carbon dioxide can be detrimental to your health. Several scientific studies suggest that living in areas that have high levels of carbon dioxide can have serious effects on your sleep quality. High levels of carbon dioxide in your sleeping space can leave you waking up with dizziness, headaches, lethargy, or even nausea in extreme cases. In addition to affecting your daily productivity, this can be detrimental to your health in the long run.

C. Mold growth is more likely, and so are some serious health problems

The absence of windows in your sleeping area means that there is little to no airflow filtering in and out of your room. As a result, the combination of high levels of humidity, stale air, and warm temperature creates the perfect environment for mold growth in your bedroom.

Naturally, sleeping in a room where mold is festering can have adverse effects on your health. Mold spores are essentially mold seeds that are dispersed into the air as the mold grows. When you inhale them, these spores can trigger a variety of undesirable reactions such as:

  • Itchy, red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Skin redness or rash
  • Nasal congestion 
  • Blurred vision
  • Chronic cough

More severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, and lung infection may occur in patients with underlying conditions like lung disease. Some individuals can even develop serious health conditions like bronchitis or asthma as a result of sleeping in a moldy environment for years.

Additionally, because inhaling mold interferes with your breathing, people who sleep in moldy, windowless rooms may experience the following:

D. Excessive snoring

Although snoring from time to time is not out of the ordinary, too much of it could indicate that something is affecting the quality of your sleep. Moreover, it may disturb your partner at night, which can make them disoriented and irritable the next day. Snoring can also cause dry mouth.

E. Insomnia

If you’re wheezing or have a runny nose due to the presence of mold spores in your room, you probably find it hard to fall and stay asleep. This may lead to insomnia, which deprives you of a full night’s rest.

F. Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep-disordered breathing where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep; as a result, the person ends up snoring while their brain catches up with their breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea develops due to narrowing airways, which may be a result of mold exposure.

G. Fatigue

If you feel sleepy during the day, chances are that you’re experiencing sleep deprivation, which may be due to interfered breathing brought about by sleeping in a moldy environment. As a result, you may have low energy levels, low productivity, a lack of motivation, and mental health problems.

I. Accumulation of odors

Odors and smells are certainly not as harmful to your health as mold and carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, they can make sleeping in your windowless room an unpleasant experience.  As you might know, the human body is a living organism that releases a variety of gases during sleep.

That is all normal and expected. However, the release of these gases in a poorly ventilated room can result in the presence of unpleasant odors, which in turn can have a detrimental effect on the quality of your sleep. Consequently, the lack of a good night’s sleep can make you chronically tired and susceptible to other more adverse health problems.

J. High humidity can cause allergic reactions

If a windowless bedroom does not have an adequate ventilation system, it can lead to a highly humid environment which can provide a perfect breeding ground for dust mites. These dust mites and the airborne detritus that they release thrive in living spaces that are not effectively ventilated. When their detritus is inhaled or encounters your skin, it can cause allergic reactions, potentially resulting in asthma attacks, itching, sneezing, eczema, and a runny nose.

2. Lack of natural light

A room that does not have windows heavily relies on artificial lighting because of the limited exposure to natural light. Artificial light exposure has dramatic effects on sleep, influencing melatonin production and circadian rhythm.

  • Artificial lighting can affect your circadian rhythm

Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock in your body that coordinates a wide range of processes, including sleep. This rhythm is regulated by a small part of your brain, commonly known as the circadian pacemaker that is influenced by light exposure. 

When light hits the eye, it is sensed by cells on the retina and then carried to the brain and interpreted as information concerning the time of day. The brain then sends signals through your body to control other systems and organs so that they’re in sync with that time of day. 

When exposed to only natural light, a person’s circadian rhythm works in synchronization with sunrise and sunset, staying awake during the day and feeling tired and sleepy when it’s dark. However, in today’s world, your eyes are exposed to an abundance of artificial lights at all hours of the day, more so if you live and sleep in a room that lacks exposure to natural light.

When exposure to artificial light is prolonged, as is the case for most people in rooms without windows, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm. This can cause difficulties staying and falling asleep. Continue disruptions to your circadian rhythm can induce health concerns beyond sleep in the long term, including cardiovascular problems, worsened metabolism, weight gain, and mental health problems.

  • Artificial lighting can also affect melatonin production

Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the body to induce drowsiness. The level of this hormone falls in tune with your sleep-wake cycle, lowering in the morning to get you to wake up, and rising in the evening to induce sleepiness.

If you get plenty of light exposure in the morning, you feel sleepy earlier. The problem comes in when you’re exposed to artificial light for prolonged periods, especially in the evening, when the body is naturally wired to produce more melatonin. As a result, you may end up feeling awake even if it’s your bedtime.

3. Poor temperature regulation

Because there is little to no air circulation in a room without windows, the temperature is significantly impacted.

  • Uncomfortably high temperatures during warm months – Sleeping in a windowless bedroom during summer might be a rather sweaty and uncomfortable experience that can negatively impact the quality of your sleep.

How can you make a windowless room more conducive for sleep?

1. Combating a lack of natural light

The most effective way of dealing with a lack of natural light in a room without windows is to install a skylight. A skylight will allow natural sunlight into your room, plus they will make your room feel more comfortable throughout the changing of the seasons. A professionally installed skylight will increase energy efficiency – because more natural light comes into the room, you save on heating and lighting expenses. For maximum efficiency, skylights must be strategically placed where they can be shaded during the hot summer months.

2. Combating poor ventilation

To ventilate a room without a window, consider the following options:

  • Use portable fans or ceiling fans – Place a portable fan near your bedroom door facing away from you to get rid of stale air. Another option is to invest in a reverse gear ceiling fan for the same purpose.
  • Introduce air-purifying plants in your sleeping space – Plants are renowned for their abilities to cleanse the air. Some indoor plants you might want to introduce to your bedroom to purify the air include spider plant, English ivy, aloe vera, and snake plant.
  • Leave the door open – A simple ventilation solution is to leave your bedroom door open for the better part of the day to enhance air circulation. 
  • Use an air conditioning system – An air conditioning system is an effective ventilation tool that can circulate air in a windowless room as well as eliminate the dampness that results from humid conditions.
  • Get rid of clutter in the room – Having excessive furniture in your room may be preventing air circulation in your room and reducing air quality. Consider getting rid of things that you don’t use often to combat this.
  • Install a vent fan – Consider having a vent fan installed via the outside wall of a room without windows. This will significantly reduce the occurrence of mold, mildew, and fungi.

3. Combating poor temperature regulation

To deal with poor temperature regulation, consider the following solutions:

  • Installing an air conditioning system in your wall (if the room has a wall that leads to the outside)
  • Strategically angle two fans
  • Use of a portable evaporative cooler
  • Install a ceiling fan
  • Use a portable air conditioning unit
  • Install a ductless air conditioner
  • Keep your appliances off whenever possible
  • Consider replacing your incandescent lights

Final thoughts

Sleeping in a room that has no windows can have many negative effects on your health and should be avoided where possible. However, if you have to make do with this kind of arrangement, there are some things you can do to make your sleeping environment more pleasant and comfortable.

Last update on 2021-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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