Sleep is a funny thing. For something that we should spend a third of our lives doing, it doesn’t always come naturally.
To help get the 8 hours of recommended sleep night that you need, most of us will have created our set routines, rituals and preferred comfort levels that we need to get into the land of nod.
For some of you out there, this will include sleeping with a fan on through the night. But even if you’re a regular fan sleeper or just want to plug one in to help battle the hot summer nights, this might not be a good idea for your health.
There are numerous negative side effects of sleeping with a fan on at night that will make you think twice about having it in your bedroom. Discover all side effects and get the true picture of how bad sleeping with a fan on at night actually is for you in this tell-all guide.
Is sleeping with a fan on bad for you?
Yes, sleeping with a fan on at night is bad for you.
Although having a fan on at night might help keep you cool, and be comforting to some, sleeping in that circulated dry air can play havoc with your health. This is particularly true for those that suffer from allergies like hayfever or suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
On the whole, the side effects of sleeping with a fan on at night outweigh the benefits, making it a bad choice for your sleep.
What are the side effects of sleeping with a fan on?
Ready to find out why fans can be so bad for your health?
Let’s dive right into the side effects of sleeping with a fan on.
1. It triggers and worsens allergies
If you suffer from allergies, sleeping with a fan on at night is a definite no go for you.
Fans may keep cool air around you all night, but that’s not the only thing that they’re blowing around. All the particles of dust and allergens that are in your room are also circulated around your body as you sleep, making you more likely to breathe in these particles when you sleep.
This causes a variety of reactions to the allergens, including:
- A runny nose;
- Itchy or watery eyes;
- A sore or itchy throat;
- Swollen or puffy eyes;
- Breathing difficulties.
This, of course, is made worse if the blades of your fan are dusty or dirty. All that dust is just going to be blown on you for 8 hours. You’re welcome for that yucky information.
During summer, fans will also circulate any pollen particles that you have brought into the room, making your hayfever worse than normal. To help reduce the risk of hayfever interfering with your sleep, you may want to take a shower before bed and ensure that no outdoor clothing is worn or taken into your bedroom to help stop the spread of pollen.
For more tips, check out our guide on how to sleep with hayfever at night.
2. It’s dehydrating
Sleeping with a fan on circulates the same dry air for hours, which is incredibly dehydrating.
Ever been on a long flight and felt unusually thirsty, headachy and sore? The same thing is happening in your room at night. All that dry air is hitting your skin and airwaves, making you thirsty and giving you some lovely dry skin on top. So much for beauty sleep.
If you sleep with your mouth open, the dry air will make quick work of drying out your mouth and throat. This is more likely to interrupt your sleep, as your body will try and wake you up to have some water. It can also cause your body to try and create more mucus than normal to combat the air, making you feel incredibly congested.
If you sleep with your eyes partially open (which is more common than you may think!) this dry air can cause major irritation to your eyes, making them feel itchy and sore in the morning. If you happen to keep your contact lenses in as well, this can cause some major problems to your eyes, and even potential infections.
3. It can cause headaches
By circulating dry air around, the dehydrating nature of fans can also cause headaches. This happens when the dry air dries your mouth and throat out.
As well as potentially waking you up to get some water, this dryness also causes your body to produce more mucus. The more it produces, the more chance you have of blocking your sinuses.
As well as being gross and making you feel incredibly congested, it can also cause some pretty awful headaches that you might mistake with coming down with a virus or illness.
4. It makes your muscles ache
This might seem like a strange one, but sleeping with a fan on can cause muscle aches, soreness or tightness when you wake up.
This is because having cold air on your body for hours will cause your muscles to tense up or cramp when you’re asleep in an effort to keep yourself warm. So, rather than relaxing and repairing your body in deep sleep, you’re actually putting it through the rigour at night, making it sore, tight and painful the next morning.
If you’re suffering from a lot of joint and muscle pain, you may also want to consider an orthopaedic mattress, which is a specially designed, firmer mattress that can help keep the spine in the correct position to ease the pain.
In fact, The Back Doctor himself, Dr Mark Craig recommends the Ergoflex 5G as an incredibly high-quality orthopaedic mattress. We tested and reviewed this mattress ourselves, finding it one of the best overall value for money ‘mattress-in-a-box’ available in the UK.
You can read the full review of the Ergoflex 5g orthopaedic mattress here.
5. It spreads germs
Sleeping with a fan on at night doesn’t just spread dust particles and allergens, but can also spread germs if you’re sick.
If you sleep with a partner who has so far managed to avoid your illness, they definitely won’t after sleeping in your airborne-germ filled room.
And as we mentioned earlier, sleeping with a fan on can irritate and block your sinuses. If you’re already struggling, this can make your illness worse rather than putting you on the path to recovery.
Why does sleeping with a fan on make it easier to sleep?
If sleeping with a fan on has such negative side effects, then why is it so popular? That’s because sleeping with a fan on does have some benefits amongst the ill effects.
Firstly, sleeping with a fan on can help keep you cool. For the optimum night’s sleep, the body needs to be cool. It’s why you can’t help but lay awake tossing and turning if it gets too hot at night.
The recommended room temperature according to the Sleep Council is between 16-18°C. Having a fan can help you reach and maintain that temperature at night.
In addition, some people may enjoy the white noise a fan provides. This is particularly true for people who live in noisy environments, as it can help drown out and replace the background noise outside. White noise can also be beneficial to babies, as one study found that 80% of newborns fell asleep within 5 minutes of being exposed to a white noise machine.
And finally, there is also some research that fans can also help lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in infants. This is thought to be because a lead-up of carbon dioxide that babies re-breathe in while being close to other sleeping family members, particularly if they are co-sleeping, could cause suffocation.
Having a fan on at night can help circulate the carbon dioxide and air around the baby, creating up to a 72% reduction in SIDS.
How to keep cool at night without a fan
Thinking about dropping the fan and using other ways to keep cool? We’ve got you covered with these tips.
For more tips and tricks for keeping cool, check out this guide on how to sleep during a heatwave.
1. Use a cooling mattress or cooling mattress protector
Not all mattresses are equal. Some of them retain heat, making it very warm and uncomfortable through the night. However, you can buy mattresses with gel inserts and more to help regulate temperature and keep you cool at night.
If you don’t want to replace your mattress yet, then cooling mattress protectors have got your back. These are a layer of material that you can put over your mattress at night, helping the air to circulate and keep you comfortable during the night.
Most are also waterproof, which also protect against any stains or spills. This is especially useful if you have little ones that are prone to accidents.
Sound good? Why not check out our top reviewed cooling mattresses protectors to get started.
TheViewstar Bamboo Waterproof is a luxuriously soft mattress protector made from hypoallergenic bamboo. It’s 100% waterproof, incredibly breathable and cool and comes in a fitted sheet design for that perfect fit. It’s also fully machine washable, making it completely accident-proof.
TheSOPAT cooling mattress protector is another strong contender, instead made from two layers of 100% cotton instead of bamboo. The double layers allow a great airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable.
2. Take a hot bath before bed
Although this may seem like it will warm you up, taking a hot bath before bed is a great way to lower your internal body temperature and cool you down.
It’s also a great way to de-stress and wind down your day, making it a great night-time routine to have.
3. Use blackout curtains or blinds
Keeping the sun out of your bedroom is a great way to keep it cool. If you have blackout curtains or blinds, try to keep them shut in the summer days to prevent the sunshine from heating your room up too much before nighttime.
Can’t give up the fan?
If you’re really struggling to give up the fan, then you can help reduce the side effects by using portable or oscillating fans. By keeping the fan 2 to 3 feet away and angles away from your body, you can help prevent the worst side effects from affecting you.
This isn’t perfect though but can do in a pinch for those that really can’t give it up.
If you are keeping the fan, you may also want to invest in a humidifier to prevent such dry air at night from disturbing your sleep and affecting your health. In addition, if you can put your fan on a timer this may help you get to sleep while taking away the worst of the side effects while you sleep.
For more sleep tips and advice, make sure you visit the Sleep4Beginners website.