Antonella Zanobetti, Dr. Susan Redline, Dr. Diane Gold of Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues used data from the Sleep Heart Health Study, which included more than 6,000 participants from 1995 to 1998, as well as federal air pollution monitoring data from Framingham, Mass.; Minneapolis; New York; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Sacramento; and Tucson.
The researchers said sleep-disordered breathing affects as many as 17 percent of U.S. adults.
Over all seasons, the study found short-term elevations in temperature were linked with increased in Respiratory Disturbance Index, which was used to gauge the severity of sleep-disordered breathing.
"Particles may influence sleep through effects on the central nervous system, as well as the upper airways," Zanobetti said in a statement. "Poor sleep may disproportionately afflict poor urban populations. Our findings suggest that one mechanism for poor sleep and sleep health disparities may relate to environmental pollution levels."
The study appears online ahead of the print edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.