Candles bring a certain magic to the bedroom. Scented candles, especially lavender or chamomile, have been linked to lulling you into a relaxed sleep. The low light of a candle can also help trigger the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Candles in the bedroom can burn for around four hours, but any longer than this creates additional risk. Consider getting in a wick dipper or snuffer to ensure the flame is fully extinguished and won’t generate smoke overnight.
Always blow out candles before you sleep. The risks of burning a candle overnight include spreading fire, inhaling volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dehydrating the skin, triggering allergic reactions, and even potential organ damage.
The benefits associated with candles can be obtained through scented products, like reed diffusers, hot wax melts, incense sticks, or cordless lamps for illumination. Battery-operated candles can also trick the mind into believing you enjoy lit candles.
Should I Light Candles in My Bedroom?
A naked flame should never be left unattended. Whether reading a book by candlelight to create an ambiance or using scented candles to aid a restful night of sleep, think carefully about whether you can safely use candles in a bedroom.
Follow these safety precautions if you plan to light candles in a bedroom:
- Keep the candle away from curtains, blinds, or flammable materials like books or magazines.
- Place the candle on a flat, stable surface, ideally a table.
- Move the candle out of arm’s reach to avoid accidents.
- Don’t let the candle burn too high.
Above all, pay attention to your candles. If you’re starting to feel tired and sleepy, blow out the flame before succumbing to sleep for security.
How Long Can You Have a Candle Lit in a Bedroom?
Most experts recommend burning candles for no more than four hours. This is especially important if your candle is housed in a glass container. Any longer than this, and the glass may begin to crack.
To remain safe, consider using tealight-sized candles in the bedroom, which have a maximum lifespan of four hours. Keep the tealights lit while you are in your bedroom, and blow them out before heading to bed or leaving the room.
How To Safely Blow Out A Candle in The Bedroom
Blowing out a candle before sleep isn’t always as simple as a puff of air. Many candles will continue to smoke after they’ve been extinguished if you don’t take appropriate precautions.
The safest way to extinguish a candle at night is to purchase a wick dipper or a snuffer. You could try suffocating the flame with a candle lid or saucer, but this will take some time.
If you can’t find these materials, purchase beeswax or soy candles.
Is it Safe to Fall Asleep with Candles Lit?
You may choose to keep a candle burning overnight to create a pleasant aroma or avoid being plunged into absolute darkness. Is it bad to sleep with a lit candle?
Unfortunately, candles should only be used while you are awake and alert enough to monitor the burning. Falling asleep with a candle still active is dangerous.
Why Can’t You Sleep with a Candle Lit?
Whether you make a conscious choice to sleep with a live flame or accidentally fall asleep with a candle on, here are the core risks:
The most significant risk surrounding a lit candle while you sleep is fire.
You could knock the candle over by kicking or flailing in your sleep, or a pet that shares your bedroom may nudge a table that hosts the candle.
A small candle or tea light may burn itself out over time, but others will allow melted wax to catch fire, creating flames that could spread. Even if you do not keep paper in your bedroom, other combustible items include blankets and pillows.
You’ll also need to ensure that no draughts are present in the room. Close all windows, and don’t leave a fan running overnight. If a candle is extinguished but still smoking, remove it from the room.
Many candles release volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Breathing in these VOCs while you sleep can negatively impact your health. The most concerning of these VOCs is formaldehyde, a confirmed carcinogen.
Health and Environmental Research Online confirms that candles release formaldehyde, especially in the first hour of burning. To this end, never light a candle as you sleep because you’ll breathe heavier.
Many candles also contain solvents, most notably toluene, which is released while the candle burns down. Inhalation of toluene can cause nausea and headaches upon waking up, especially if you consume alcohol before heading to bed.
Pregnant women, in particular, need to be mindful of the risks of toluene. According to Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, inhaling this solvent in large quantities can cause defects and abnormalities in a fetus.
There is also a small risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if you sleep with a lit candle, especially if it is too close to your head. Keep candles on the other side of the room to negate this hazard.
While some people need to inhale significant VOCs from a candle to see an impact, anybody with allergies or a respiratory concern like asthma will be impacted more. The chemicals released by a burning candle can trigger allergic responses.
Try lighting candles in your waking life and see how your body reacts. If you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms, extinguish the candle at once:
- Streaming from the nose or eyes.
- Tightness in the chest.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Breakouts on the skin, including rashes or hives.
- Itchy or irritated eyes.
These responses suggest that candles are causing an allergic reaction in the body.
This response will be magnified during sleep, and it is increasingly dangerous to risk an asthma attack or potential anaphylactic response while in a state of slumber.
Lighting candles can increase your body temperature. The wax found in candles contains hydrogen and carbon, so as the top of the candle melts, it turns into a gas that is inhaled.
As this gas enters the atmosphere around you, the ambient temperature in a bedroom steadily increases. This will cause you to sweat under the bedsheets, potentially leading to dehydration that rouses you from sleep as you grow increasingly uncomfortable.
If you have lit candles while still awake, this impact can be tempered by sipping water. This won’t be an option while you’re asleep, so avoid allowing your body to dehydrate.
Regularly sleeping with a lit candle can cause long-standing, irreparable damage to the internal organs. Again, toluene is the primary concern.
Consistent exposure to high levels of toluene is believed to have the following consequences:
- Irritation to the lungs, potentially leading to a build-up of mucus and respiratory depression.
- Kidney failure, especially in individuals already experiencing an early-stage renal disease.
- Jaundice of the liver.
To face these hazards, you’ll need to regularly breathe large quantities of toluene, but sleeping beside a candle makes that outcome likelier.
Alternatives to Lighting Candles in the Bedroom
Having established that sleeping with a lit candle is dangerous, you may wish to explore alternative approaches. Whether you want to make your bedroom smell better or provide ambient illumination, consider a substitute for a naked flame.
Candles create charming and ambient lighting in a room, but this can be achieved in other ways. The closest alternative is investing in battery-powered electronic candles.
These provide the same lighting as traditional candles. Many of them can even be set to flicker, just like a real flame. If you doze off, there’s no fire risk due to the absence of flame or power cables.
Lamps have also come a long way, and many are equipped with dimmer switches. A light set to low intensity will offer just enough illumination to prevent discomfort to your eyes, and a cordless lamp – chargeable by USB – will again not require a direct power source.
Another popular reason for lighting candles in the bedroom is the scent they release.
Scientific Reports explains how your perception of an aroma influences sleep more than the scent itself, but treating the nose can still assist in a relaxing night of sleep.
Rather than lighting scented candles for overnight relaxation, consider these approaches:
- Light an incense stick. This is still a flame but burns out much faster than a candle.
- Use hot wax melts. These will be contained and not produce a naked flame.
- Purchase an essential oil diffuser or a reed diffuser for even greater safety.
Any of these approaches will make your bedroom smell nice and relaxing without the dangers of lighting candles that continue to burn while you sleep.
Candles can be atmospheric in the bedroom but can be dangerous. If you follow safety protocols and blow out a candle before falling asleep, you can enjoy everything they offer.