Someone recently told me that they don’t have plants in their bedroom because of the carbon dioxide (co2) that they release at night. This was not an argument that I’d ever heard before. Generally, most articles I’ve seen about house plants just talk about the many benefits of having them, so I decided to spend some time researching the topic.
During the daytime hours, if enough light is available, plants perform photosynthesis, converting co2 into the sugars that they require for food. This process also produces oxygen, that most vital substance to human life.
As well as photosynethesis, however, plants also perform respiration. During respiration plants consume oxygen and produce co2. They respire during both the day and the night but photosynthesis generally only occurs during the daylight hours. This suggests that whilst we’re sleeping, the amounts of co2 in the air of a bedroom that contains plants will continue to rise, without the balancing affect of the daytime’s oxygen production and so with a potential effect on health.
So maybe it is true that you shouldn’t have plants in bedrooms…
This might be the case if plants released more carbon dioxide than they used over the course of the day. Research suggests that, on average, plants release half of their daily co2 intake during respiration. This does depend on the amount of light the plant is getting, as poor light means poor photosynthesis, as well as its temperature, water and nutrient levels. They use the carbon to form the building blocks of their growth. It is safe to say that they absorb more co2 than they emit. Unless your room is small and unventilated, the amount of night time co2 build up is so minimal as to have no effect.
If you continue to be concerned about the amount of co2 released by your bedroom plants over night, I’ve learned that there are also some plants that actually produce oxygen and absorb co2 at night through a type of photosynthesis called Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM). These include Snake Plant (Sanseveiria), Spider Plant, Peace Lily, Pothos, Weeping Fig, Areca Palm, Aloe Vera, Christmas Cactus and Orchid, as well as many other popular house plants.
Plants also have other potential benefits as well.
Numerous studies over the past few decades have shown that ondoor plants can scrub the air of toxins, such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and benzene. One study showed that in 24 hours an English Ivy could remove two-thirds of the formaldehyde it was exposed to. The problem with all such studies, however, is that they were conducted in labs with sealed chambers and optimum plant growing conditions. These do not accurately mimic the conditions of the average bedroom. Whilst plants do remove toxins from the air, the simple air flow exchange of a typical, well-ventilated bedroom does the job just as well.
The final, and possibly the most important reason to actually keep plants in your bedroom, is their positive effects on both physical and mental health and wellbeing. Indoor plants have been shown to reduce stress and to promote relaxation – both of which are ideal for in a bedroom setting. They’ve even been shown to be beneficial in hospital rooms, both shortening recovery times and reducing the need for pain medication, as well as lowering ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue in patients.
So, all in all, I think that I’ll continue to have plants in my bedroom and I’ll continue to encourage my friends and family to have more plants in their houses, and bedrooms, too.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
This post is for day 195 of 365 Days Wild.