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What is an Ideal Oxygen Level When You Sleep?

What is an Ideal Oxygen Level When You Sleep?

After a round of marathon, have you experienced exhaustion and out of breath. Yes perhaps.

In our consciousness, our lungs continuously pump up oxygen for performing several body functions. Increased activities and exertion needs large amount of oxygen. Fast breathing helps in excess flow of oxygen and reduces the build-up of carbon dioxide which helps in performing several aerobic exercises but this goes to normal when our body comes at rest. From here we can conclude that increased activities demand high concentration of oxygen. Then what happens when our body is at complete rest during sleep.

When you fall asleep you feel the change in the oxygen levels. While we go through the sleep cycles 3-4 times every night, our oxygen level invariably differs during each stage. During NREM sleep, our breathing levels decease up to 15%, as we near to REM sleep (in which we dream), the brain activities increases and our sub conscious minds tends to increase the oxygen levels due to this activities resulting in heavy and deep breathing. This rise and fall in oxygen level are normal unless it falls to an extreme which may be due to hypoxemia (low blood oxygen).

What causes Hypoxemia?

Hypoxemia is a sleep disorder affecting blood flow and breathing resulting in shortness of breath, restlessness, confusion and headache.

Hypoxemia can occur due to various factors some are normal like high altitude and marathon running, others may be due to underlying diseases or infections. If Hypoxemia is frequent, it’s better to consult your doctor for diagnosis and medication.

Hypoxemia is caused due to several reasons:-

  • Anaemia
  • Asthma
  • Restlessness
  • ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome)
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Pneumonia pulmonary embolism
  • Pneumothorax
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Heart infection
  • Heart diseases
  • Intestinal Lung diseases
  • Heavy Pain medication

During day we perform several activities which can sometimes leave us in exhaustion. While in sleep our lungs continues to pump up oxygen but at a much lesser quantity. Your oxygen level is not limited to your lungs and can affect your brain, heart and kidney. As we grew old the saturation of oxygen deceases.

A normal blood oxygen level ranges between 94% and 98%. Anything below 90% is a cause of serious concern. You should start monitoring your oxygen level if it gets below 94% frequently.

Does Low Oxygen Level affect our sleep?

Our brain can survive up to 4 mins without oxygen. Lower oxygen levels can result in sudden feel of exhaustion during sleep hours which may cause unwanted wakeups. People suffering from sleep apnea happen to show symptoms of breathing restrictions during sleep.

What happens during sleep apnea?

In sleep apnea, the upper airways muscle tone tends to narrow and shut down temporarily while you sleep. This temporary cut off the oxygen flow in the body resulting in low blood oxygen level and ultimately arousal from sleep. This continuous break in sleep causes sleep deprivation resulting in tiredness, stress and restlessness. As the supply of oxygen decreases, the carbon dioxide starts to build up resulting in morning headaches, dizziness, drowsiness and fatigue.

How to check lower oxygen level during sleep?

If you are suffering from breathlessness during the day and the oxygen level is reaching below 90%, your oxygen level must be falling excess during night. In that case, consult a doctor. A doctor may ask you to monitor your oxygen level. In this case an Oxymeter can come handy. An Oxymeter is device used to measure the oxygen level in the body. If you are suffering from a breathing problem or sharp rise and fall in oxygen level, a oxymeter can be used to monitor you oxygen level during the day and night.

How less oxygen affects your health

An oxygen desaturation below 92% once or twice during sleep is normal but if it persists, it can cause long term damage to your brain and heart.

The continued shortness of oxygen is a sign of sleep apnea or other respiratory disorders and can lead to:-

  • memory loss
  • drowsiness
  • morning headaches
  • sleep disorders
  • fainting
  • heart rhythm problem
  • increased pressure on right side
  • Fluid build up
  • heart attack
  • Stroke.

Lack of oxygen can affect efficiency in work and adds pressure on your lungs for increased supply of oxygen to prevent the body from collapsing.

How to improve oxygen level in your body?

Lack of oxygen can cause innumerable problems. According to News 18, the prone ventilator method help you improve your oxygen levels in home. Lying face down, with chest raised and repeated breathing exercise improves the oxygen levels in your body.

According to times of India, sleeping in proning position can help maintain ideal blood oxygen and saturation levels and was highly recommended for the COVID- 19 Patients at the time of Pandamic. For the proning position sleeping there should be lots of pillows which should be regulated on an hourly basis. A soft and comfortable sleeping pillow can always be helpful than a hard pillow. Keep one pillow below your neck, two below your chest and two below shins for an ideal proning position. The size of the pillow also depends so get you a correct pillow.

A guideline from the Health Ministry was also listed for getting relief from sudden lack of oxygen.

Here what has be advised

  • Step 1: Lie on your belly
  • Step 2: Lie to the right side
  • Step 3: Sitting up with leg legs extended in your front
  • Step 4: Then lie on the left side
  • Step 5: Go to your belly again

Keep altering the position after every 30 minutes and use your pillows to your comfort. Seek medical help in cases of emergency.

5 habits to balance the oxygen supply in the body.

Iron and Vitamin D Rich Foods

You may have heard the slogan, good food, good life, well here in this case we are dealing with good food, good oxygen level. By eating Iron and vitamin D rich food such as red meat, dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, shellfish, egg yolks, fatty fish you can enhance the oxygen supply in your body. Low Vitamin D tends to cause less blood oxygen level, going outdoors into the sun can supply you the extra vitamins for the hour. Try to consume less processed and oily food to prevent you from obesity.


You may try to increase your lungs capacity by exhausting yourself in a healthy way. Exercise can improve your heart efficiency to pump blood though out your body. It also helps you to stay fit and channels the exhaustion though efficient oxygen management.

Avoid polluted air

Polluted air can cause breathing problems. Try to avoid polluted air by wearing mask and keeping you window closed. Use air purifier to get clean air. One great way to get fresh air is to install more plants around you. Plants absorb carbon dioxide. Try not to deprive yourself from green environment.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can affect your lungs and the blood vessels supplying the oxygen. Increase consumption of smoke can block the passage of air and restricts oxygen supply.


Performing Yoga on daily basis maintaining a correct posture can enhance oxygen flow in your body. Bhujangasana and Padma Sarvangasana along with Ardha Mastyendrasana are the few yoga postures which help in better circulation of oxygen.

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