Is Sleeping With a Fan On Safe? – Can It Make You Feel Sick?

The short answer to this question is: it depends.

For some people, having a ceiling or floor fan in the room helps them fall asleep and stay cool during the night. For others, it can keep them awake, trigger asthma attacks or dry out their eyes.

If you’re in a hot or closed off room, the thought of sleeping without one can be unbearable. And for those of us with rude and noisy neighbors, its hum can drown out the annoying reminder that many of us share walls with strangers.

So, the more thorough answer to this question is yes, in many cases sleeping with a fan on is good for you. In this article, we’ll dive more into why, as well as discuss some of the reasons to either avoid having one in the bedroom or at least how to use one properly to achieve maximum health and sleep benefits.

Why Use a Fan While Sleeping

White Noise

The sound a fan makes is similar to white noise. White noise combines all sound frequencies, generating a hum that can help people fall asleep. Using a fan is kind of a like a low-budget, DIY white noise machine.

People are attracted to the idea of white noise to help with sleep because it drowns out background noises and dulls jarring sounds like car alarms, yelling neighbors, slamming doors, and sirens. And, for those odd birds who find it difficult to fall asleep in complete silence, it’s also helpful in creating noise.

Control Temperature

Fans are a low-cost way to cool a warm room. If you tend to run hot when you're in bed, they can help keep you comfortable. While they won’t keep you as cool as an air conditioner, we found a way to turn a basic fan into a makeshift air conditioning unit.

Here’s how:

  1. Get a few bottles of water, about four to six.
  2. Add two to three tablespoons of salt to each bottle.
  3. Put the bottles in the freezer.
  4. When you’re ready for bed, put the frozen bottles on a tray. The tray is there to collect condensation and prevent a watery, leaky mess.
  5. Put the tray of frozen bottles in front of your fan.
  6. Turn it on. As the air blows by the frozen water, you’ll feel a cool breeze.

Refreeze the bottles each day and enjoy this DIY air conditioner every night. No tools or equipment required!

Air Circulation

A closed off room feels stuffy, and the air can get stale during the night. By circulating air, you boost the room’s freshness and battle stagnancy. It also helps combat odors. Have you ever walked into a bedroom where people have been sleeping all night and been put off by a stale and heavy smell? Adding a fan to the room to promote airflow will prevent that icky stench in the future.

fan in bedroom

Downsides of Sleeping with a Fan

Allergic Reactions

As a fan moves air around the room, it causes flurries of dust and pollen to make their way into your sinuses. If you’re prone to allergies, asthma, and hay fever, this could stir up a whole lot of trouble.

Also, take a close look at your fan. If it’s been collecting dust on the blades, those particles are flying through the air every time you turn it on.

Dry Air

A constant blast of air on your body may cause dry skin. Lotions and moisturizers will help prevent this, but if your skin is excessively dry, use caution and monitor your skin to make sure you’re not over drying it.

Another thing to consider is that some people sleep with their eyes partially open. Weird, but it does happen! Again, a steady airstream will dry your eyes and may cause major irritation. If you wear contact lenses when you sleep, this is particularly problematic.

Some people also sleep with their mouth open, and the excess airflow will potentially dry out their mouths and throats. Keeping a glass of water nearby can help, but do you really want to be woken up because of a dry mouth?

girl is sleeping with half open mouth

Sinus Irritation

The constant stream of air also has a tendency to dry out your nasal passages, which could affect your sinuses. If the dryness is particularly extreme, it can result in your body producing excess mucous to try to compensate. Then, you’re more susceptible to blockage, stuffiness, and sinus headaches.

Sore Muscles

People who sleep with a breeze directly on them may wake up with stiff or sore muscles. This is because the concentrated cool air can make muscles tense up and cramp. This problem is especially common for people who sleep with it near their face and neck. If you’ve been waking up with a stiff neck in the morning, it might be because of the constant breeze.

Who Should Sleep with a Fan?

Fans are ideal for people who get hot during the night. If you sleep in a room with the doors and windows closed, they can help with air circulation and will keep your bedroom moderately cooler.

If there’s a lot of background noise where you live, fans are an effective and inexpensive way to dull that noise. They’re also helpful if you sleep with a partner who snores and you want to drown out the sound of sawing logs. Or, if one of you sleeps hotter than other, you might want to keep one side of the bedroom cooler than the other.

According to some studies, they can even help prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The reason is that high temperatures and increased CO2 levels put babies at risk. Running a fan lowers the temperature and decreases the air’s concentration of carbon dioxide.

girl is laying on her back

Who Should Not Sleep with a Fan?

The only reason to completely avoid one is if it’s causing a health concern. If it is triggering allergy and asthma attacks or it’s drying out your skin or sinuses, you might need a different model. Sometimes the equipment also gets excess buildup of pollen and particles that are impossible to remove. If that’s the case, consider an upgrade.

Or, if it’s causing issues by drying out your skin and insides, maybe you need something that rotates instead of one that blows directly on you all night. You may even want to consider one that has a timer, so you’ll be able to use it to lull you to your dreamland but have it turn off automatically to prevent the constant blast of air all night.

Again, there’s no inherent danger in sleeping with something like this in your bedroom. It’s a matter of preference and of finding the right one for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will it be okay to use it if you’re sick?

It probably won’t make your illness worse, but you’re not doing yourself any favors. The blast of air could irritate your sinuses, make you feel stiffer and sorer, and spread germs around. If you’re sharing a bed with a loved one, you’re increasing the chances of making them sick, too.

sick man laying on his back

Will it have negative effects on the ears?

If it sounds like a Mack Truck, then yes. A loud, repetitive piece of equipment droning on and on close to your ears all night certainly isn’t good for them. If you are using this in your bedroom, make sure that it has a relatively quiet hum.

Can you get a sore throat or stuffy nose while using it?

Potentially. The constant stream of air might dry out your throat, especially if you sleep with your mouth open. The air also dries out nasal passages. One way to minimize this risk is to use a fan that rotates, rather than one that blows a steady and unrelenting flow in one concentrated area all night.

Conclusion


Whether you’re trying to keep cool or fall asleep faster, a fan is probably the most cost-effective piece of equipment you can use to improve your sleep quality. There are a lot of upsides to having one in the room, and most of the downsides can be eliminated by using something quiet that rotates and has a timer.

Sources:

  1. What Sleep Experts Do To Get A Good Night’s Rest – huffingtonpost.com

More Readings:

Author: Mark Reddick

When I’m not learning about sleep, you can find me hanging out with my wife and close friends.

I absolutely love entrepreneurship and learning how to improve yourself daily. We only get one life, and I want to make it the best one possible.

I hope that everyone that finds our site takes a new approach to sleep. The world needs to stop thinking about it as something “we just do,” but rather something that allows us “to do every day.”

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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