Sleeping with the window open may have previously been a personal preference rather than a choice made for any specific reason.
However, experts have hinted that it could be better for our health to do so – and even reduce the chances of getting Covid-19.
A recent report by the Environmental Modelling Group for the Government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies (SAGE) has found that poor airflow increases the risk of catching coronavirus from airborne particles that travel over more than two metres.
The report states that these ‘aerosols’ are reduced by half ‘when the ventilation rate is doubled’.
With that in mind, it’s been advised to increase ventilation in the home – keeping windows open for as long as possible, including while sleeping.
Speaking to Good Health, Professor Linda Bauld, an expert in public health at the University of Edinburgh, said the health benefits were ‘significant’, adding: ‘The public health message about good ventilation will become more and more important as the evidence grows that Covid can be spread through airborne transmission over wider areas.’
Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, director of the centre for climate repair at the University of Cambridge, also argued that there are many other health benefits to sleeping with windows open.
He says that it can improve sleep, and make us (and our children) feel more awake during the day by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we breather at night.
‘If you can keep carbon dioxide levels down to less than 2,000 parts per million, studies have shown that children’s learning ability and attention span is improved,’ he says.
GP Dr Louise Selby adds: ‘In homes without sufficient airflow, you can get a build-up of emissions from fires and allergens from pets and dust mites.’
Dr Fitzgerald adds that opening the window from the top is better in winter, saying: ‘This is because cold air is denser and heavier than warm air, so the cold air will come in and sink slowly to floor level.’
Try not to let the room get too chilly, as a room temperature below 18C can have more negative effects, particularly for people who have existing health problems. Cold air can irritate the cells in airways and exacerbate conditions like COPD or asthma.
However, for most of us, fresh air will be beneficial.