Complex associations between air pollution, insomnia symptoms and physical activity

In a preprint co-authored with G. Chevance et al. (1), we examined the associations between climate change consequences and health behaviors. We identified a set of (bi)directional associations between natural hazards, rising sea level, greenhouse gas emission, temperature increase and the following behaviors : alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, water consumption, preventive behaviors, sleep, food related behaviors and physical activity (PA) domains. We synthesized these associations with this figure.

This system map offers a “meta” and simplified perspective of previous studied associations. However, we did not include the potential associations between health behaviors. Indeed, these associations are not well identified and may be different in function of the time scale (i.e., daily associations vs long term association), study participant characteristics and assessment tools (see e.g., see the following reviews for PA sleep associations at short and long term (2,3)).
A recent cross-sectional study investigated the associations of long-term exposure to ambient air pollution with insomnia symptoms in a large Chinese sample. Furthermore, the authors examined whether PA domains had a potential “buffering effect”.
In the perspective of our review, it’s particularly relevant because we could improve the subsection about sleep, PA domains, and air pollution (4). Also, China is one of the most polluted countries in the world.

Strengths of this study:

  • -residents >3 years in their current residence
  • relative good measure of insomnia symptoms
  • good control of indoor air pollution and environmental factors (e.g., temperature)

I synthesized Xu et al. findings with the following slides (4). A buffering effect of physical activity was found for leisure PA and moderate PA “doses”. High levels of total and occupational PA accentuated the air pollution – insomnia association. In brief, the potential positive role of PA varied in term of domain, dose and air pollution measures.

 

 

This study is a good illustration of health behaviors associations complexity. In a climate change perspective (i.e., higher level of air pollution in cities around the world in next decades), physical activity promotion and insomnia prevention/treatment strategies should be revised.

  • 1. Chevance G, Fresán U, Hekler E, Edmondson D, Lloyd S j, Ballester J, et al. Thinking health-related behaviors in a climate change context: A narrative review [Internet]. OSF Preprints; 2021 [cited 2021 May 19]. Available from: https://osf.io/pb8vc/
  • 2. Kredlow MA, Capozzoli MC, Hearon BA, Calkins AW, Otto MW. The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. J Behav Med. 2015 Jun;38(3):427–49.
  • 3. Atoui S, Chevance G, Romain A-J, Kingsbury C, Lachance J-P, Bernard P. Daily associations between sleep and physical activity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2021 Jun;57:101426.
  • 4. Xu J, Zhou J, Luo P, Mao D, Xu W, Nima Q, et al. Associations of long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and physical activity with insomnia in Chinese adults. Science of The Total Environment. 2021 Oct;792:148197.

 


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