If you get hot and sweaty at night, you may consider opening a window while you sleep. Of course, this can sometimes cool the room, provide ambient noise, and freshen up the indoor air. However, there are potential risks to your safety and well-being.
Without safety precautions, sleeping with your windows open at night can lead to criminal activity, such as burglary. You’re at risk of getting stung by insects or bitten by wildlife. The air quality may be low due to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP), or the temperature may fall significantly.
There are ways to mitigate most risks through planning. Install safety bars or window stops to prevent burglary, and use screens to prevent bugs and wildlife from entering.
Is it Unsafe to Sleep with Windows Open?
Sleeping with your windows open always carries some degree of risk. However, there are specific scenarios that are more dangerous than others.
For example, windows that are highly accessible from outside your home increase the risk of intruders when left open.
Likewise, if the environmental conditions in your area are bad, leaving the window open as you sleep could affect your health.
The most likely risks to leaving your windows open at night are:
- Bites and stings
- Property damage
Depending on where you live, some are more likely than others. Nonetheless, these issues are most commonly seen in conjunction with open or unsecured windows, where all inhabitants sleep.
There are two scenarios where you are most likely to result in negative experiences when sleeping with the windows open, which are:
- On the first floor
- Open during the night
If you sleep with your windows open at night and your windows are on the first floor, the risks are higher.
Sleep with Windows Open on First Floor
The riskiest situation is sleeping with a first-floor window open. This is because of the accessibility of the window, of course, especially if the window is accessible or visible from the street.
The biggest risk is an intruder or burglar entering your home while you sleep. While it’s less common for intruders to enter a home when people are present, it still happens.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 40% of unlawful entries into an unoccupied home, offenders gained access via an unlocked or open window or door.
In a home occupied at the time of entry, 29% of offenders entered via an unlocked or open window or door. In 38% of cases, the offender entered while the home occupants were sleeping.
Those who sleep with the windows open on the first floor are also at a higher risk of opportunistic crimes. Here, someone enters the home without having planned the crime.
Statistically speaking, even those offenders who plan burglaries are unlikely to attempt entry through a second-floor window. That’s true even if it is open when they arrive on the scene.
Sleeping with Windows Open at Night
The above statistical report found that over 60% of break-ins occurred while the occupant was in the home between 6 pm and 6 am. So, if you sleep with a first-floor window open at night, the risk of burglary increases significantly.
However, this isn’t the only risk. If you live near a busy road, noise and pollution levels are likely to be far higher than those in relatively quiet or rural areas. Increased noise and pollution can cause serious problems, such as disrupted health and sleep quality.
The Handbook of Clinical Neurology said that temperature and airflow affect sleep quality. High noise levels can lead to fitful or broken sleep and prevent you from getting the required amount of deep sleep.
According to Sleep Deprivation and Disease, the functional impact of sleep deprivation and fragmentation is varied, extensive, and negative. Regular sleep loss increases the risk of heart disease, strokes, and reduced cognitive function.
Why Is It Dangerous to Sleep with Your Windows Open?
As well as the risk of intruders and excessive noise, sleeping with your windows open can allow pollutants or allergens into your home while you sleep. This can disrupt your sleep due to irritation to your nose and throat.
It could also lead to more serious, long-term issues like migraines and breathing troubles due to increased exposure to pollutants. Of course, there’s also the matter of weather and temperature.
The purpose of sleeping with the windows open is to make your environment more comfortable. Sleeping with the window open will be detrimental to your comfort if it’s too warm or cold outside.
What’s more, it could be detrimental to your well-being. For example, if your home is in a warm, humid area, you might find that sleeping with your window open allows bugs to get in to bite or sting you. This can be dangerous if bugs like mosquitos or venomous spiders are in your area.
Sleeping with the windows open in very cold weather could lead to the following:
- Sore throat
- Sore head
- Sore muscles
- Respiratory discomfort
These issues are fairly minor but can cause discomfort and other negative repercussions. They can be directly linked to a sleeping environment that’s too cold.
Very low body temperatures during sleep can be dangerous. However, unless you live in an area that sees temperatures below freezing and you sleep with unsuitable bedding, it’s unlikely that you will suffer dangerous side effects.
How Cold is Too Cold to Sleep With Windows Open?
The ideal temperature for a sleeping environment is between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If your sleeping environment falls too far outside these parameters, you’ll experience negative side effects.
Unsurprisingly, according to the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, those who sleep nude or semi-nude are far more likely to experience negative side effects in a room that is too cold.
By extension, those who sleep in thick pajamas are more likely to experience negative side effects from sleeping in a room that is too warm.
In all cases, young children and babies are more likely to experience severe negative side effects from sleeping in excessively cold or hot rooms.
Is it Good to Sleep with Windows Open?
Despite all this, there are benefits to sleeping with your windows open at night, especially if you take measures to ensure that the main risks are mitigated.
If the main risks are neutralized, and you have a healthy sleeping environment, sleeping with your windows open can have many benefits.
As well as contributing to better sleep quality, it can be good for your health.
If you have trouble staying cool, sleeping with your windows open will lower the temperature effectively (in most cases). This could help those who run hot stay cool even during warm nights.
Better Air Quality
Having your windows open while you sleep is refreshing.
By letting out musty smells and preventing carbon dioxide build-up, you could wake up feeling fresh and revitalized. Likewise, sleeping with your windows open could help to control humidity.
If you live in a fairly quiet or rural area, sleeping with your windows open at night could help you get more restful sleep due to white noise. The sounds of the outside world can induce deep sleep as long as they’re not too loud.
It can be more effective than artificial white noise created by specialist machines. This is why sleeping with your windows open when it rains can be soothing.
Sleeping with Windows Open Safety
There are ways to ensure that sleeping with your windows open at night (or during the day) benefits you, which involves taking steps to assess and mitigate the risks.
You’ll need to assess your area’s climate and human risks from sleeping with open windows. Sleeping with a first-floor window open will be unsafe if you live in a high-crime area.
Safeguard Your Window
If you intend to sleep with your window open, take steps to make it a non-viable entrance for potential intruders. You can do this by installing safety bars, but this isn’t something most people enjoy.
Window stops work by preventing the windows from opening beyond a certain point. They come in many forms and can be installed in almost any window, allowing airflow without leaving your home open to the world.
Screen Your Window
Another good safety measure is to install a screen of some kind.
This may not stop a determined person, but it’ll prevent flying pests and bugs from entering your room. Combining a screen with window stops could keep you safe and comfortable.
Check Your Insurance
You should check the terms of your home or contents insurance. Your policy may require you to have certain safety measures in place to maintain coverage if you sleep with your windows open.
If your window is left open, it may not cover your home or property for damage or theft, which is why it’s important to check. If this is the case, there are alternatives to leaving a window open.
It’s not entirely safe to sleep with your windows open, from the point of physical safety or personal health. However, you can minimize these risks with the right safeguards.