Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Publication Detail

Title: Environmental exposures and sleep outcomes: A review of evidence, potential mechanisms, and implications.

Authors: Liu, Jianghong; Ghastine, Lea; Um, Phoebe; Rovit, Elizabeth; Wu, Tina

Published In Environ Res, (2021 05)

Abstract: Environmental exposures and poor sleep outcomes are known to have consequential effects on human health. This integrative review first seeks to present and synthesize existing literature investigating the relationship between exposure to various environmental factors and sleep health. We then present potential mechanisms of action as well as implications for policy and future research for each environmental exposure. Broadly, although studies are still emerging, empirical evidence has begun to show a positive association between adverse effects of heavy metal, noise pollution, light pollution, second-hand smoke, and air pollution exposures and various sleep problems. Specifically, these negative sleep outcomes range from subjective sleep manifestations, such as general sleep quality, sleep duration, daytime dysfunction, and daytime sleepiness, as well as objective sleep measures, including difficulties with sleep onset and maintenance, sleep stage or circadian rhythm interference, sleep arousal, REM activity, and sleep disordered breathing. However, the association between light exposure and sleep is less clear. Potential toxicological mechanisms are thought to include the direct effect of various environmental toxicants on the nervous, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Nevertheless, future research is required to tease out the exact pathways of action to explain the associations between each environmental factor and sleep, to inform possible therapies to negate the detrimental effects, and to increase efforts in decreasing exposure to these harmful environmental factors to improve health.

PubMed ID: 33130170 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Air Pollution*/analysis; Air Pollution*/statistics & numerical data; Circadian Rhythm; Environmental Exposure*/analysis; Environmental Exposure*/statistics & numerical data; Hazardous Substances; Humans; Sleep*

to Top