Oxidative Stress and Sleep | The Wave Forward

Oxidative Stress and Sleep | The Wave Forward

How Oxidative Stress Can Sabotage Your Sleep

Have you ever tossed and turned all night, wracking your brain, wondering why you can’t sleep? Most turn to the likely culprit: stress. But even if you have nothing to worry about, you could still be losing sleep due to something more sinister: oxidative stress.

What Is Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress is when the body over-accumulates free radicals — too much that the body can process. Free radicals are highly reactive atoms that can damage cells if left unprocessed. Free radicals aren’t always a bad thing, though. Your body generates it through typical bodily functions like breathing, digestion, and exercise. However, the free radicals your body produces during these functions are often moderate enough for your body to compensate if it has enough antioxidants. If you don’t have enough antioxidants to help with this metabolism, your body will experience oxidative stress.

If you experience chronic oxidative stress, your cells’ proteins and DNA will deteriorate, leading to tissue damage and other health implications.

Once these cells build up with oxidative stress, your body will experience troubles as it strives to maintain bodily functions. Many researchers believe that oxidative stress leads to a variety of chronic conditions , from asthma to cancer. 

Symptoms of Oxidative Stress

Before your body develops chronic conditions associated with oxidative stress, you’ll notice other, more subtle symptoms of oxidative stress , including the following: 


When your body requires more energy to metabolize the free radicals in your body, you may be essentially running on an empty tank energy-wise for other tasks. You may notice it’s hard to concentrate, feel overly tired during the day, and have less motivation to complete daily tasks. This isn’t a minor case of fatigue, either. Fatigue associated with oxidative stress is chronic and persists for weeks if not months.


According to recent research, people who experience persistent headaches and migraines also have higher levels of oxidative stress . Some theorize that headaches are a way for your body to relieve oxidative stress. Essentially, all of the responsible mechanisms for headaches, such as an interruption of blood supply and protection of the brain’s neurons, are also mechanisms the body uses when handling oxidative stress. Although previous studies indicate that migraines and oxidative stress share similar triggers, such as pollution and stress, the two may be more interconnected than we realize.

Either way, chronic headaches or persistent migraines are typically a red flag that your body needs assistance.

Aching Joints

Studies as recent as 2020 indicate that people with osteoarthritis, the chronic condition of inflamed joints, often have higher levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in their bodies. Essentially, our bodies use inflammation to detect cellular stress or infection. As oxidative stress builds up, inflammation also rises, which may decrease your body’s production of collagen, the protein responsible for maintaining your body’s skin, muscles, and joints.

Therefore, inflammation or pain in your joints is your body alerting you of cellular trouble, i.e., oxidative stress. 

Insomnia and Sleep Apnea

The relationship between oxidative stress and sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea is interconnected. Oxidative stress can cause these disorders, but likewise, these disorders can cause oxidative stress.

In the past, researchers have experienced difficulty distinguishing which condition causes the other. Regardless, both insomnia and sleep apnea have been correlated with the buildup of inflammation in the body, which is a related symptom of oxidative stress. Likewise, both insomnia and sleep apnea are risk factors for chronic conditions also associated with oxidative stress, such as heart disease . If you examine someone with either of these conditions, you will find higher biomarkers of oxidative stress . Conversely, an increased intake of antioxidants leads to better sleep and decreased insomnia and sleep apnea.

Ultimately, all of these connections indicate that if you have insomnia or sleep apnea, you may already have high levels of oxidative stress or your oxidative stress may rise as you continue to get less sleep. 

EMF and Electric Cars

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What Causes Oxidative Stress?

Many environmental factors can lead to this imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, including UV rays, tobacco and alcohol abuse, a poor diet lacking antioxidants, poor sleep, and even stress. As such, it’s essential to minimize exposure to these environmental factors if you’re already experiencing symptoms of oxidative stress to allow your body to protect your cells that might be affected by oxidative stress.

Since the key to preventing oxidative stress is enabling your body to process free radicals, you must find ways to bolster this process to prevent your body from succumbing to or worsening oxidative stress. For one, you can eat a diet rich in antioxidants. Most importantly, improving your sleep habits can give your body the energy it needs for essential cellular processes. The more sleep you get, the better your body can protect itself.

Oxidative Stress and EMFs

In addition to these environmental factors, exposure to radiation and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can also lead to the overproduction of free radicals. Exposure to EMFs comes in many forms. Your Wi-Fi router, Bluetooth and smart devices, microwaves, and other wireless technologies produce EMFs. Over time, radiation from EMFs can affect your body’s natural processes, leading to the deterioration of molecules in your cells, the main symptom of oxidative stress.

In addition, how you expose yourself to EMFs can increase oxidative stress in your body. For example, exposure to blue light before bed can lead to a lack of sleep. Lack of sleep inhibits your body from processing free radicals, which causes oxidative stress. Therefore, indirectly or not, EMFs are intricately tied to oxidative stress. 

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Sleep Solutions to Avoid Oxidative Stress

Sleep Hygiene Tips

Getting better sleep doesn’t happen overnight. Integrating habits into your daily and nighttime routines to promote better sleep regularly is critical to better sleep. Here are a few habits you can use:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night: Sleeping at a regular schedule keeps your circadian rhythm in check, which is the cyclical production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep. 

  • Make your bedroom comfortable: Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool to keep it relaxing and comfortable all night long.

  • Avoid large meals and caffeine before bedtime: Since your body produces energy to metabolize large meals, you will often feel more energized after eating large meals, leading to a restless night. In addition, avoid caffeine at least five hours before sleeping to avoid its effects.

  • Exercise every day, but not before bedtime: Exercise helps facilitate natural bodily processes, such as mood regulation and better digestion, which are essential for better sleep.

The more of these habits you integrate into your lifestyle, the easier it will be to sleep and prevent oxidative stress. 

Make Your Bedroom Wireless

Since EMFs and oxidative stress are closely tied, minimizing your exposure to EMFs while y our body processes free radicals through sleep is crucial. Here are a couple of ways to do that:

  • Turn off your Wi-Fi router at night.

  • Limit your exposure to blue light at least an hour before bed.

  • Charge your cell phone and other smart devices outside of your bedroom.

  • Store your laptops and any wireless devices outside of your bedroom.

  • Consider using wired connections during the day.

Although it’s impossible to entirely remove your exposure to EMF radiation, if you do your best to reduce your exposure before and during your bedtime, you can ensure your body can focus on rest and recovery.

EMF Protection

Even though you can’t eliminate your exposure to EMF radiation during the day, you can protect yourself to give your body the best chance at addressing oxidative stress. Take a look at Aires Tech devices, for example. Whether you attach them to your cellphone, wear them on your keychain, or store them around your wireless devices, our peer-reviewed devices can help reduce your exposure to EMF radiation, ensuring you can minimize the effects of oxidative stress, including lack of sleep.

In conclusion, sleep is one of the most essential parts of protecting your body from oxidative stress. You can bolster this process in various ways, including minimizing your exposure to EMFs with the help of Aires Tech and fostering a healthy sleep schedule. By doing so, not only will you get a better night of sleep, but you’ll feel healthier during the day as well.

FAQs About Sleep and Oxidative Stress

What Is Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress happens when there's an imbalance between harmful molecules called free radicals and protective molecules called antioxidants in your body. This can damage cells, speed up aging, and cause diseases, including problems with sleep.

How Does Oxidative Stress Affect Your Sleep?

Oxidative stress can interfere with sleep by harming brain cells that control sleep patterns. This can make it hard to fall asleep, cause you to wake up often during the night, and make you feel tired even after you've slept.

Can Better Sleep Lower Oxidative Stress?

Yes, better sleep can help lower oxidative stress. When you sleep well, your body boosts its defenses against harmful molecules, helping to repair and refresh your cells.

What Are Signs That Oxidative Stress Is Messing With Your Sleep?

If oxidative stress affects your sleep, you might find it hard to fall asleep, wake up often, feel tired in the morning, or feel sleepy during the day. These issues can also lead to more severe sleep problems over time.

What Changes Can You Make to Handle Oxidative Stress and Sleep Better?

Changes like eating antioxidant-rich foods, exercising regularly, reducing stress, and adhering to a regular sleep schedule can help manage oxidative stress and improve sleep. Avoiding smoking and cutting down on alcohol can also make a big difference.

What Foods Can Help With Oxidative Stress and Improve Sleep?

Eating foods full of antioxidants (like berries, nuts, and leafy greens) and those that help with sleep (like cherries, almonds, and dairy products) can fight oxidative stress and help you sleep better.

How Are Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Sleep Problems Linked?

Inflammation and oxidative stress can feed off each other, creating a cycle that disrupts sleep. This can worsen sleep problems, increasing oxidative stress and inflammation and harming health.

Can Supplements Help With Oxidative Stress and Sleep?

Taking antioxidant supplements (like vitamins C and E) may help with oxidative stress. But it's important to talk to a doctor first, as supplements should support—not replace—a healthy lifestyle.

How Does EMF Radiation Cause Oxidative Stress and Affect Sleep?

EMF radiation from electronics can increase oxidative stress by creating harmful molecules. This can harm cells and disrupt sleep. Reducing EMF exposure, especially before bed, can help manage oxidative stress and improve sleep.

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