pros and cons of sleeping with a fan on?
Questions And Answers

Is It Bad To Sleep with A Fan Blowing on You?

(Last Updated On: January 22, 2023)

Achieving the right ambient temperature for sleep is critical. Sleeping next to a fan will create a draught, reducing your body temperature and redistributing air around a hot room so it doesn’t feel stuffy.

It’s not necessarily advisable to sleep next to a fan. Fans not only redistribute air but also blow allergens around the room, which could lead to an adverse reaction while you sleep.

The cool air generated by a fan dries out the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. So, you may wake up with a stuffy nose, headache, or sore throat. The idea of prematurely aging skin is also unappealing. Fans can also cause muscle tension, leading to cramps.

If you need to sleep with a fan, there are other ways to reduce your body temperature.

Benefits of Sleeping With A Fan

Some people find comfort in sleeping with a fan in their bedroom.

If you’re among this number, your choice has potential rewards. If you’re asking, “should I sleep with a fan on?” there are reasons why it could work for you:

Cool Temperature

The most obvious advantage of sleeping with a fan is reducing the ambient temperature around you. As per Frontiers in Neuroscience, a lower temperature will encourage more restful sleep.

Using a fan can be particularly beneficial during the hottest months of the year, when body temperature runs high overnight and during the day.

The steady breeze created by a fan will theoretically prevent you from sweating and overheating.

Redistribution of Air

If you have kept your windows closed all day, you may find the air in a room feels stuffy and stale. Artificial sprays, such as air fresheners, will linger in the atmosphere, adding to the overwhelming sense of heaviness.

Even if you open windows by day and close them at night, you risk allowing pollutants into the room – and entrapping them. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health explains how air pollution can disturb sleep quality.

Most fans oscillate, enabling them to blow cool air all over a room. This can be important for air purity, as you’ll redistribute air throughout the room. This makes a fan a cost-effective alternative to an air purifier, albeit considerably less effective.

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White Noise

The noise generated by fans overnight divides people. A large enough fan to create a sufficient breeze in your room is likely to be run by a comparatively loud motor, which means it will generate quite a bit of noise overnight.

For some people, this makes fans a complete non-starter – they find the noise excruciating. Others find the white noise generated by a fan comforting.

If you don’t object to the noise of a fan, it may help you sleep. White noise can give you something to focus on, blocking out the jarring sounds of sirens, car horns, and other noises associated with busy cities.

Safety in Infants

Using a fan can be considered a safety measure if you share your bedroom or co-sleep with a baby. According to JAMA Pediatrics, sleeping with a fan reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

This argument believes that a fan redistributes air, preventing carbon dioxide from pooling around the child’s nose and mouth. This, in turn, makes it less likely that a sleeping infant will inhale dangerous levels of CO2.

Drawbacks of Sleeping With A Fan

While we have expressed some ways sleeping with a fan benefits, many counter-arguments dictate why you shouldn’t sleep with a fan.

Many experts believe sleeping beside a fan is potentially dangerous and unhealthy.

Congestion of the Eyes, Nose, And Throat

Do you find that you wake up with a stuffy nose after sleeping beside a fan? This is because the circulating air of a fan dries out the eyes, nose, and throat, which can lead to the generation of mucus.

Sleeping next to a fan won’t necessarily make you sick, but it’ll magnify any problems if you feel under the weather. As your throat dries out, you’re likelier to snore, potentially disturbing a partner, and will awake in dire need of hydration.

Drying Out of Skin

As well as drying out the eyes, nose, and throat, sleeping beside a fan can leave your skin feeling extremely dry in the morning. If you’re wondering, “what happens if you sleep with a fan blowing on your face?” this is why.

Dry skin should be combatted with lotions and moisturizers, especially night creams that sink into your skin while you sleep. Overall, your skin will feel considerably more hydrated and refreshed if you avoid subjecting it to an artificial draught overnight.

Redistribution of Allergens

We mentioned that running a fan overnight continually redistributes air around a room.

This is true, but it’ll also share any potential allergens. Dust, pet dander, and even pollen attached to clothing may attach themselves to you while you sleep.

This isn’t necessarily a concern if you do not have any allergies. If you do, using a fan is putting you at significant risk. While dozing, you are wholly vulnerable. Anything that impacts your breathing could have considerable repercussions.

Muscle Soreness and Cramps

Anybody with a long-term muscular or skeletal injury claims it aches more in cold weather. The same will apply to sleeping in front of a fan, and prolonged exposure to concentrated airflow causes cramping and muscle soreness.

Many of us already feel stiff in the morning. While we’re inactive overnight, the joints aren’t lubricated by synovial fluid – we need a good stretch to get everything moving again. The cold air of a fan magnifies this concern, meaning it takes longer to get limber.     

Energy Consumption and Safety Hazards

Consider the safety implications of running a fan overnight, including:

  • Trailing cables from a plug socket to the fan creates a tripping hazard.
  • The risk of an electrical fire is enhanced when an appliance is left running unsupervised.
  • Fans can topple over, especially if nudged by a clumsy pet negotiating a dark bedroom.

You’ll also use electricity overnight while you’re asleep and thus incapable of feeling the benefit. If you must use a fan, consider attaching it to a timed plug so it switches off once you’re likely to have dozed off, but this still doesn’t resolve the other concerns.

Alternatives To Sleeping With A Fan

Considering the risks inherent in sleeping beside a fan, it becomes clear that it’s not an ideal solution to staying cool at night. It’s advisable to find different ways to avoid overheating while you sleep.

The most obvious alternative to a fan is air conditioning, but if this were an option, you likely wouldn’t be using a fan. Let’s also assume that sleeping with open windows isn’t viable, perhaps due to noise or safety concerns.

There are still methods by which you can maintain a reasonable temperature overnight, none of which share the warnings and hazards associated with sleeping beside a fan.

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Cool Off Before Bed

If you keep a room cool during the day, you won’t trap heat within at night.

If you’re not spending time in a bedroom until you decide to sleep, reduce the temperature. There are several ways you can achieve this, including:

  • Open the windows while you’re out of the room if it’s safe.
  • Get blackout curtains or blinds that block sunlight.
  • Run a fan for a while to generate some cold air.
  • Place a hot water bottle filled with cold water and ice cubes in your bed before climbing in.

You can also reduce your body temperature around an hour before bed. Taking a shower or bath will help with this. If that seems too much effort, try submerging your feet in water.

These steps will help you maintain a comfortable temperature overnight without the aid of electrical appliances like fans.

Nightwear or Bedsheets

If you’re hot overnight, consider changing your clothes or your bedsheets.

In high temperatures, there’s no need to wear fleece pajamas. If you’re not comfortable sleeping naked, pick up nightwear of a lighter material like silk or bamboo.

The same applies to bedsheets. Ask yourself if you need to sleep under the covers, and if you do, reduce the tog rating of your comforter. The lighter this is, the less likely you need a fan to avoid sweating.

Smart Mattress

If you equip your bed with a smart mattress, you can set it to cool to a preferred temperature before you climb in. Think of it as a reverse electric blanket.

Most smart mattresses allow two halves of a bed to run at different temperatures, so this shouldn’t be a problem if you sleep with a partner. You can select a comfortable level of coolness for your preferred side of the bed.

There are some advantages to sleeping with a fan, but when we weigh all the advantages and disadvantages, it’s always better to find a different way to stay cool overnight. Electric fans have their place, but they’re best used during waking hours.