Trouble Sleeping? It Could Be Your Insulation and Air Conditioning

February 21st, 2020

You toss and turn all night, struggling to fall asleep.

When you wake up in the morning, you’re covered in sweat and don’t feel well-rested in the slightest.

The problem might not be stress, diet, or exercise. It could be your air conditioning – or lack thereof! 

If you rely on the Trade Winds to drop your home’s temperature to comfortable levels at night, you may want to rethink your strategy. The Trade Winds might help bring the temperature down but they can’t do much to prevent humidity. 

Why is Air Conditioning Important for Quality Sleep?

An Infograph about sleepThe ideal sleeping temperature is much colder than you think. Experts say between 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit is perfect.

When you sleep, your body temperature changes naturally. Your biological computer drops your core temperature, so sleeping in a cooler bedroom puts less stress on your body and facilitates the sleep process.

A hot room messes with your REM sleep especially. That’s why you might experience terrifying or vivid dreams when you’re fighting a fever

Sleep deprivation is an epidemic. A 2016 study by the CDC found that only 56% of Hawaii residents get enough sleep each night. Hawaii was the most sleep-deprived state in the country!

Surely, pulling long work hours to cover the notoriously inflated cost of living plays a role. However, your sleep environment also matters. Living on the islands, we rely on air conditioning to keep us comfortable. If you don’t properly maintain your air conditioner – or don’t have one at all – your sleep will suffer. 

Chronic sleep deprivation is a major problem. Complications of sleep deprivation include:

  • Increased risk of car accidents (not good considering Oahu’s traffic congestion problem!)
  • Poor concentration, problem solving, attention, cognitive, and reasoning skills
  • Heightened risk of chronic health problems like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and dementia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Signs of premature aging (your body needs sleep to produce human growth hormone)
  • Poor memory
  • Weight gain and obesity

Where You Live on the Island Matters

Across Oahu, the temperature dips below 67 degrees at night from December through April. However, that doesn’t change the humidity levels.

Oahu residents know all too well the island has dozens of microclimates. If your house or bedroom faces the makai side of the island, expect higher humidity levels.

Meanwhile, facing the mauka side can reduce your exposure to humidity and higher temperatures.

Densely packed urban areas downtown might also struggle to shake the hotter daytime temps at night. 

If you live at the bottom of a valley that doesn’t get much wind or in a low-lying area like Ewa Beach or Waianae, you’re fighting a constant battle against humidity. 

Living higher in the mountains can help. However, certain communities at higher elevations are prone to more rain. Rain naturally increases humidity levels – especially when it doesn’t let up!

Not only is humidity bad for sleep but it also puts you at risk for mold growth and other toxins. Ideally, your humidity level should remain between 30 and 50%. If you struggle with allergies or asthma, it’s critical to keep your home’s humidity low to prevent mold spores, dust mites, and roaches.

How to Win the Humidity Game with Air Conditioning

Already have an AC? Great! Follow these tips to reduce humidity levels.

Invest in a Decent Filter

A dirty filter puts stress on your entire air conditioning system. When your system can’t run properly, your home’s humidity levels rise. It’s a smart idea to replace your filter every

  • 30 days if you have multiple pets, allergies, or asthma
  • 60 days if you have one pet
  • 90 days if you have NO pets or allergies

Clean or Replace Your Coil

If you’ve neglected to replace your air filter, your coil will start accumulating dirt, dust, and grime. No good. Your air conditioner is a natural dehumidifier IF it works correctly.

Your coil is the part responsible for removing moisture from the air before it enters your home. If your coil gets dirty or needs to be replaced, you can expect a humid home. Cleaning or replacing a coil is a job best left to the professionals.

Consider a Thermal Expansion Valve 

A thermal expansion valve increases the surface area of your coil so more air is exposed to it before it blows into your bedroom. 

When more air is exposed to the coil, more moisture is pulled out. Not only can a thermal expansion valve help reduce humidity, but it can also draw more heat out of the air to help lower the temperature of your bedroom. 

Lower Your Fan Speed

If your fan blows air at an extremely fast rate, it won’t have time to contact the coil which means less moisture gets pulled out of the air.

Reducing the fan’s speed will help pull more moisture AND heat out of the air before it blows into your bedroom. Some air conditioners have adjustable fan speeds but most don’t. Give us a call if you’d like us to check it out for you.

Charge Your Refrigerant 

Just like vehicles, air conditioners require regular maintenance – including a good charge!

An expert tune-up will charge your refrigerant and look for any faulty parts that might be dragging down your air conditioning’s ability to remove humidity. 

Don’t take a low charge lightly. It can morph into broader – more expensive – emergency problems like frozen coils or broken compressors. 

Mind Your Insulation

It’s no secret that many Hawaiian homes are poorly insulated. Unfortunately, shoddy insulation means your air conditioner has to work harder to keep your home cool and dry – especially in your attic.

Without insulation, moisture and balmy air can leak into your bedroom. When that happens, your room won’t stay cool enough and you’ll struggle to get enough high-quality sleep.

Call the Island’s Air Conditioning Experts

Our expert technicians at Island Comfort can help you find the perfect air conditioning solution for sleep. We’ll run a 32-point tune-up to make sure your coils are clean, your filter is fresh, and everything is functioning optimally.

If you don’t have an AC unit, we can help you find the most cost-effective solution for your home. It’s worth investing in at least a high-quality window unit if you’re fighting a losing battle against humidity and sleep.

Don’t suffer from chronic sleep deprivation! Schedule a call with Island Comfort today.