What is the Normal Oxygen Saturation by Age while Sleeping?

Normal oxygen saturation levels can vary slightly by age, but in general, they are fairly consistent across different age groups. Here are the typical normal oxygen saturation levels (SpO2) for various age groups while sleeping:

  • Newborns (0-1 month): 90-95%
  • Infants (1 month – 1 year): 92-96%
  • Toddlers and young children (1-5 years): 92-96%
  • Older children (6-12 years): 95-98%
  • Teenagers (13-18 years): 95-98%
  • Adults (19+ years): 95-98%

What causes low oxygen at night?

It’s important to note that while sleeping, oxygen saturation levels might occasionally dip slightly below these ranges, especially during REM sleep when breathing patterns can change.

However, sustained low levels (below 90%) can be a sign of an underlying health issue and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Low oxygen levels at night, also known as nocturnal hypoxemia, can be caused by various factors. Here are some common causes:

Sleep Apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most common type, where the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep, causing repeated pauses in breathing.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: The brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):

  • Diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema can lead to reduced airflow and lower oxygen levels during sleep.


  • Poorly controlled asthma can cause nighttime symptoms and lower oxygen levels.

Heart Failure:

  • This can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs, reducing oxygen exchange during sleep.

Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome:

  • Excess weight can impair the mechanics of breathing, leading to lower oxygen levels.

Pulmonary Diseases:

  • Conditions like pulmonary fibrosis or pulmonary hypertension can affect lung function and oxygenation.


  • Reduced breathing effort during sleep can result in lower oxygen levels. This can occur in conditions such as neuromuscular disorders or due to the use of sedatives and alcohol.


  • Sleeping at high altitudes can cause lower oxygen levels due to the reduced oxygen pressure in the environment.


  • Smoking can cause airway inflammation and other respiratory issues that can affect oxygen levels.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD):

  • Repeated limb movements during sleep can cause brief awakenings and disrupted breathing.

Symptoms of nocturnal hypoxemia can include restless sleep, frequent awakenings, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness. If you suspect low oxygen levels at night, it is important to seek medical evaluation.

A healthcare provider may recommend tests such as overnight pulse oximetry, polysomnography (sleep study), or arterial blood gas analysis to diagnose the underlying cause and determine appropriate treatment.

How can I increase my oxygen level while sleeping?

Improving your oxygen levels while sleeping can involve several strategies, depending on the underlying cause of the low oxygen levels. Here are some general approaches:

  1. Address Underlying Medical Conditions:
    • Sleep Apnea: Use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) devices can help keep airways open during sleep.
    • COPD or Asthma: Proper management of these conditions with medications and inhalers as prescribed by your doctor is crucial.
    • Heart Failure: Follow your doctor’s recommendations for managing heart failure, which may include medications, lifestyle changes, and possibly oxygen therapy.
  2. Maintain a Healthy Weight:
    • Excess weight, particularly around the neck and chest, can impair breathing during sleep. Weight loss through a healthy diet and regular exercise can improve breathing and oxygen levels.
  3. Sleep Position:
    • Sleeping on your side can help keep airways open and reduce the risk of sleep apnea. Some people use special pillows or devices to maintain a side-sleeping position.
  4. Elevate the Head of Your Bed:
    • Raising the head of your bed by about 4-6 inches can help reduce the likelihood of airway obstructions and improve breathing.
  5. Avoid Alcohol and Sedatives:
    • These substances can relax the muscles in your throat, increasing the risk of airway obstruction. Avoiding them, especially in the evening, can improve your breathing during sleep.
  6. Use a Humidifier:
    • Keeping the air moist can help ease breathing, especially if you live in a dry climate or during winter months when indoor air can be dry.
  7. Breathing Exercises:
    • Techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing can help improve lung capacity and efficiency, which might help maintain better oxygen levels during sleep.
  8. Oxygen Therapy:
    • For some conditions, your doctor may prescribe supplemental oxygen to be used during sleep. This can be delivered through various devices, such as an oxygen concentrator or tanks with a nasal cannula.
  9. Quit Smoking:
    • Smoking damages your lungs and can severely impact your ability to oxygenate your blood. Quitting smoking can lead to significant improvements in lung function and overall health.
  10. Monitor Your Oxygen Levels:
    • Using a pulse oximeter at home can help you keep track of your oxygen levels. Share this information with your healthcare provider to make informed decisions about your treatment plan.

If you are experiencing symptoms of low oxygen levels during sleep, such as waking up gasping for air, morning headaches, or excessive daytime sleepiness, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider.

They can perform a thorough evaluation and recommend appropriate interventions tailored to your specific needs.

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