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Is Sleeping With a Fan on Bad for Your Health?

Lara Vargas

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Should you sleep with the fan on? The answer will depend on who you ask. For some, fans are necessary in order to keep cool, but for others, they could trigger unpleasant respiratory symptoms, causing more harm than good.

In this article, we’ll go through the arguments for and against sleeping with a fan on and answer frequently asked questions about using them at night. By the end, you’ll be able to make an informed decision for yourself about whether the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa.

Advantages of Sleeping with the Fan On

Fans are used on a daily basis in many households, and for good reason. They provide several practical benefits.

Comfort

If you’ve ever slept in a hot room, you know firsthand how miserable it can be. Using a fan will help keep you comfortable in hot weather and bedroom environments. It allows you to control and regulate your temperature which is critical for a good night’s sleep.

Cost-Effective Cooling

Air conditioning units are a financial investment, and they require special maintenance and care. Compared to A/C, a fan is a fraction of the price, making it a low-cost, effective option for many who can’t or don’t want to spend a large amount of money cooling their room.

Prevents Smells

Rooms with poor circulation can often smell stale and unpleasant. Using a fan will help with this tremendously. By moving the air around the room, it will prevent lingering odors and stagnancy.

Prevents Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden infant death syndrome is when a baby under the age of 1 year old suddenly and unexpectedly dies. According to Mayo Clinic, one of the contributing risk factors for SIDS is overheating. Using a fan to keep the nursery a comfortable, cool temperature for your infant is a simple preventative measure you can take. It will lessen the chances of this tragic and terrifying incident from occurring.

Disadvantages of Sleeping with the Fan On

There are also a few downsides that you should be aware of before turning the fan on at bedtime every night.

Allergy and Asthma Exacerbation

Fans accumulate a lot of pollen, dust, and other particles from being used every day. These move around the room and eventually into your sinuses. This can be very troublesome for those with asthma, allergies, or hay fever.

Dryness of Skin, Eyes, Mouth, and Sinuses

With cold air blowing on you for hours overnight, fans can evaporate the moisture from your mouth, eyes, and nasal passages, leaving you feeling dried out and irritated. The body responds by producing excess mucus and bothersome congestion. For those prone to dry skin, fans may also increase dryness.

Stiff Muscles

The continuous exposure to cold air from a fan may cause muscle contractions. This tension will often build-up, leaving you with a sore neck or stiff facial muscles in the morning when you wake up.

Who Should Sleep with a Fan On?

Fans can be useful, and sometimes even necessary, for various temperature-related reasons including:

Hot Sleepers

People who sweat overnight and often find themselves warm will benefit greatly from sleeping with a fan on.

Infants Under 1 Year Old

Running a fan will lower the room temperatures and decrease levels of carbon dioxide in the air, both of which can be quite risky for young babies. It will also help reduce the risk of SIDS.

Homes with No A/C Unit

People with no air conditioner in their homes may rely on fans during the warmer seasons in order to stay comfortable.

Who Shouldn’t Sleep with a Fan On?

Those individuals who struggle with health concerns such as irritable sinuses, hay fever, allergies, or asthma may want to consider alternative options for staying cool while they sleep.

It may not be the best choice for people with dry, sensitive skin, either.

Minimizing the Negative Effects

If you must sleep with a fan on, here are some ways you can safeguard yourself from its possible negative effects. Taking these precautions can make a big difference in how you feel when you wake up in the morning.

Clean Your Fan Often

Dust the front and back. Disinfect the blades a few times per year, too. Doing so is not only better for your health, but it also helps to lengthen the life of your fan, ensuring it will work for many years to come.

One of the easiest and most popular methods for wiping down your fan is to use an old pillowcase that you don’t use or sleep with anymore. To do so, simply slide the open end of the pillowcase over each fan blade, press down gently to capture the dust, and then pull back to clear the surface of any built-up particles.

You may want to consider wearing a mask or similar face covering to keep the dust particles from entering your mouth and nose, as these could be very irritating.

Sleep with a Humidifier On

Lack of humidity in the air can aggravate the skin and respiratory system. Using a humidifier where you sleep can reverse and help to prevent that dryness in the mouth or nasal passages.

Use Eye Drops and Moisturizer

Lathering yourself in lotion and using eye drops before bedtime can help to alleviate dry skin and eyes caused by a fan. These are methods intended to soothe and alleviate the effects, but not are not solutions to the problem.

Use a Rotating Fan

Floor and tower fans often have the ability to oscillate or move from side-to-side. Sometimes, they even offer adjustable heights, angles, and speeds making them a highly customizable and user-friendly choice during sleep.

These types of fans are a much healthier option than a stationary ceiling fan. Since they do not blow cold air onto you in the same spot for continuous hours, they’re helpful when it comes to avoiding dryness and muscle stiffness.

Clean Your Room Often

Sweep, dust, and mop your sleeping area as frequently as possible. Wash bedding in hot water every week. This will help prevent irritants such as pesky dust, pollen, pet dander and fur from entering the respiratory system once the fan is on.

Keep the Fan a Safe Distance from Your Bed

If possible, you’ll want to avoid having a fan directly above you while you sleep. This helps to lessen the drying effects it may have on your eyes, nose, mouth, and skin.

Tips for Better Sleep

Mattress and Bedding

Mattress and bedding materials can play a large role in regulating your body temperature at night. Here are a few tips for finding the ones best suited to your needs.

Finding the Best Cooling Mattress

If you are a hot sleeper, you will want to choose a cooling mattress that promotes airflow and draws heat away from the body. There are many types of advanced temperature-regulating technologies available that can help with this including gel-infusion, charcoal, green tea extract, and copper.

Plant-based foam is an ideal mattress material for heat retention. With large air pockets, it allows air to flow freely through the mattress increasing overall breathability.

Hybrid options can also be great choices for hot sleepers. These mattresses have multiple layers of either memory foam, latex, or gel along with a coil support system. The coils reduce the amount of heat trapped in the bed, allowing sleepers to stay cool and comfortable.

Shopping for Sheets for Hot Sleepers

Bed sheets made from natural fibers tend to offer the best breathability and cooling properties due to their loosely woven threads. There are a few that stand out among the rest, including:

  • Tencel: This soft, eco-friendly material is highly moisture-wicking and a popular sheet choice for hot sleepers. Tencel sheets allow sweat to evaporate rather than stick to the skin so you stay feeling airy and comfortable, even in warm climates.
  • Linen: A very versatile fabric, linen is recognized for its ability to accommodate different temperatures. Linen sheets do a good job of pulling sweat away from the body and as an added bonus, are naturally hypoallergenic, which can help promote better sleep for allergy sufferers.
  • Bamboo: Lightweight and breathable, bamboo makes an excellent choice for staying cool. Its wide, long fiber threads quickly remove perspiration and trap cool air, keeping you feeling breezy and dry overnight.

You will want to avoid flannel and jersey-knit sheets as they will trap and retain heat.

Habits to Avoid Night Sweats

Clothing Materials

Sleepwear materials are often overlooked but can play a major role in how well we sleep. Loose, soft clothing made from cotton, linen, or silk will help you to stay cool overnight. Wearing polyester, rayon, and fleece, however, can lead to warmth and sweating.

Take a Warm Bath

As counterproductive as this might sound, it really does help! The warmth of the water will cause blood to rush to the veins in your hands and feet. As a result, it actually cools your bloodstream. For this method to be effective, though, you’ll want to give yourself an hour between the bath and going to bed.

Design a Cooler Bedroom for Better Sleep

Keep the Bedroom Door Open Throughout the Day

This will allow ventilation to move from one room through the next before it’s time for bed.

Use Blackout Curtains

By blocking light, blackout curtains will prevent heat from entering the room via windows. This is an especially helpful method if your bedroom gets a lot of sun. They may also lessen your overall energy costs, as they keep thermal energy from seeping out through your windows.

Clean Your Air Filter Regularly

Maintaining your filter is one of the easiest ways to cool your home efficiently. When the filter cartridges become dirty, they don’t work as well. On top of that, they have to work much harder, which can result in a significantly higher energy bill.

You will want to change it every 1-2 months for optimal results.

Utilize an Air Purifier

These machines extract harmful particles and pollutants from the air in order to create a healthier, cleaner sleeping environment. Using one regularly can help counteract the negative effects of a fan and reduce the chances of experiencing troublesome allergic symptoms.

FAQs

Can sleeping with a fan on make you sick?

The fan itself won’t worsen your illness, but it may worsen symptoms. Air could irritate the sinuses, make you feel more stiff and sore, and spread the contagious germs around, increasing the chances of a loved one becoming sick too.

Can you get a sore throat or stuffy nose from using a fan?

Yes, both are possible. The air streaming into your mouth all night can make the throat dry. The same goes for the nasal passages. To combat this, try using a fan that rotates in different directions.

Do fans make allergies worse?

Unfortunately, yes. Fans cause common allergens such as pollen, dust, and dust mites to circulate in the air which can trigger allergic symptoms.

If you require a fan in order to stay cool, be sure to clean your fan and bedroom often to mitigate the negative effects. Using an air purifier may help with this as well.

Are fans bad for your ears?

When a fan makes lots of mechanical noise, it becomes bad for your ears. A short-term solution to this problem is to wear earplugs. A long-term solution would be to purchase a new fan that makes less (or no!) noise.

Can sleeping with a fan on cause dry eyes?

Yes. The constant stream of air blowing from the fan onto your face while you sleep can result in drying of the eyes. Using an oscillating fan instead of a stationary ceiling fan can help prevent this since it moves the air around the room in different directions.

To alleviate this unpleasant feeling once it happens, you can get some relief by using moisturizing eye drops.

Conclusion

Getting restful sleep is crucial for our overall well-being and temperature can have a large effect on this.

Fans make the room cooler and are a cost-effective way of controlling the temperature in your environment. However, they can also trigger certain health conditions, especially in those suffering from allergies and asthma. If you do choose to use one, you can rest assured knowing there are several ways to minimize the negative effects.

Now that you’re aware of the pros and cons of sleeping with a fan on, you can make the decision that best fits your lifestyle and sleeping needs.

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