Associations between chemical odor intolerance and sleep disturbances in community-living adults

Carol M. Baldwin, Iris R. Bell, Stefano Guerra, Stuart F. Quan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate associations between sleep disturbances and chemical odor intolerance (COI), which is the subjective report of feeling ill from common odors, such as carpet glue or pesticides. Methods: This cross-sectional study consisted of government employees and their family members (n=140; 61% women, mean age=46.3 years) derived from a stratified cluster population living in Pima County, Tucson, AZ. Subjects completed a standard survey that included sleep symptoms, a validated measure of COI, and two questions regarding anxiety and depression. Odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed to test the association between COI and sleep symptoms. Stratification according to the Mantel-Haenszel method and logistic regression models were used to test for confounding and/or effect modification. Results: After adjusting for age and gender, subjects with COI were significantly more likely to report difficulty staying asleep (OR=3.06; CI=1.17-8.03), insufficient sleep (OR=3.93; CI=1.43-10.79), and nightmares (OR=3.17; CI=1.14-8.81) compared to persons without COI. Associations between COI, sleep maintenance problems and insufficient sleep were still significant after adjusting for gender and depression; however, the association between COI and nightmares became borderline. Conclusions: Compared to the non-COI, persons with COI are more likely to report sleep maintenance insomnia and insufficient sleep independent of self-reported depression. Nightmares appear to be related more to depression than to COI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalSleep Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • Chemical odor intolerance
  • Cross-sectional
  • Depression
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Epidemiology
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Nightmares

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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