Going to bed with a fan blowing in my direction is an absolute necessity when I’m trying to fall asleep.
Sleeping without a fan feels like suffocation to me. The air gets stale and stagnant. And the silence that occurs without the whirring of fan can be deafening.
I know that some of you can relate to my fan needs when it comes to sleeping. But many people actually believe that sleeping with a fan on is bad for you.
My Mom used to tell me that sleeping with the fan on would stir up all kinds of dust and irritate my asthma.
And my husband always complained that the fan dried his eyes out while sleeping and actually wore an sleep mask to prevent the breeze from blowing on his eyes. I never experienced this, even when I slept on his side of the bed. I always thought he must have slept with his eyes open for the breeze to effect him so badly.
I honestly never had a clue if what they were saying had any merit – so, I thought maybe it was time to investigate these fan claims.
If you’ve ever wondered whether that bedroom fan may be doing you more harm than good, look no further. I’ve gathered all you need to know about sleeping with a fan on – good and bad.
The Disadvantages of Sleeping with Your Fan On
Sleeping with a fan on won’t kill you as traditional Korean folklore might have you believe.1(This really is an actual superstition, passed down through generations, mostly in the Korean culture.)
And sleeping with the fan won’t cause arthritis.2
But there are some negative side-effects that can come from sleeping with your fan on.
1. Sinus Irritation
A blowing fan can often dry out the air in your bedroom. And dry air can irritate the mucus membranes in your sinuses.3
When the mucus membranes that line your nasal passages become to dry, they try to re-hydrate by producing more mucus. This can cause build-up, blockage, and intense sinus pressure.
Avoid dealing with irritated sinuses or a blocked nose when sleeping with a fan on by keeping a humidifier near your bed.
2. Dry Mouth and Throat
As mentioned when we talked about sinus irritation, fans tend to dry out the air in your bedroom when left on during the night.
Breathing in this dry air will likely dry out your throat. And if you are a mouth breather, your mouth too. While this isn’t terribly harmful to your health, it can disrupt your sleep.
An overly dry mouth and throat can have you waking throughout the night needing water. So you’ll have to head to the kitchen to get some. And we all know it how hard it can be to fall back asleep once you get out of bed.
And if you consistently sleep with the fan on for extended periods of time, your dry mouth may cause problems for your teeth or gums, but this is an extreme situation!
A humidifier is a great way to rectify this issue if you want to sleep with the fan on minus an overly dry mouth and throat. A humidifier will keep the help keep the air moist, preventing you from drying out.
There is no better feeling than the cool breeze from a fan on a hot summer night. And as long as the temperature in your room is under 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you can comfortably enjoy that fan without dehydration concerns.
But when the thermostat rises above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, that air the fan is blowing on your skin is actually hotter than your body. When this happen, you tend to sweat even more.
Sweating and losing so much fluid in your sleep can lead to dehydration. It’s unlikely that you’re waking up throughout the night to replenish electrolytes, so dehydration can occur without you even knowing.
Make sure to avoid fans if you are without air conditioning and have a room temperature above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Allergy & Asthma Troubles
Turns out that what my Mom always told me was true – sleeping with a fan on can exacerbate allergy or asthma symptoms.
This is especially true if you don’t regularly clean your fan. Don’t be embarrassed, most of us don’t. Fans tend to collect large amounts of dust and other household allergens. Take a look behind your fan right now (or on top of your ceiling fan). See that brownish, grey fluff? That’s dust build up.
When that dust-covered fan is blowing in your direction, it is spewing all of that old dust directly into your lungs and sinuses. This can be a real nightmare for allergy and asthma sufferers.
If you want to sleep with the fan on without dealing with an asthma or allergy attack, simply dust your fan on a regular basis in addition to the basics like sleeping with a hypoallergenic pillow and regularly cleaning your mattress. Easy fix!
5. A Stiff Neck
The fan in your bedroom might be the very thing responsible for that sore neck you experience in the morning.
The cool breeze of your bedroom fan, blowing on your skin can cause your muscles to tense. While your bedroom temperature may be making you uncomfortably hot as you fall asleep, the temperature will likely drop in the early hours of the morning.
And when the temperature drops, your fan is blowing uncomfortably cool air on your skin. And if the breeze is directed towards your neck, your muscles will tense or even cramp. This continued tensing can cause you to wake with a sore neck in the morning.4
If you are going to sleep with the fan on, especially in winter, avoid aiming the breeze directly at you. Point the fan away from the bed, so that you can still gain the benefits of air-circulation without the negative effects of the air blowing on your skin.
Because of this, box or pedestal fans are better suited for your bedroom, since you can aim the air-flow. On the other hand, avoiding the breeze of your ceiling fan while you sleep is unavoidable.
While these are some very legitimate issues that sleeping with the fan on may cause, they aren’t guaranteed to affect you.
And if you’re anything like me, they certainly aren’t reason enough to try and sleep without that beloved breeze from my fan.
The Benefits of Sleeping With A Fan On
As with anything, there are two sides to the argument of whether sleeping with a fan on is bad for you. And while there aren’t quite as many pros on this topic as cons, some of the following make a good case for why you should sleep with a fan on!
1. Soothing Sound
Countless studies have proven how white noise can help you fall and stay asleep. The gentle whir of a fan can serve as the perfect background lullaby for bedtime.
David N. Neubauer, MD, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that sleeping with a fan on is his personal secret to a good night’s sleep, “I sleep with a bedside fan every night, no matter what the temperature. If the fan’s not on, I will definitely have difficulty falling asleep. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that white noise can be soothing because it blocks out sudden variations in sound—like a barking dog, or a car alarm—that can lighten our sleep or wake us.”5
Keeping a small fan set to low while you fall asleep will offer the perfect amount of white noise while helping to mask other distracting sounds. And when paired with a good set of earplugs can be just the thing you need for a peaceful night’s sleep.
A fan’s job is to circulate air, which in turn helps with room ventilation. A well-ventilated bedroom can help you breathe and sleep more easily.
In fact, a 2008 study conducted by Kaiser Permanente discovered that keeping a fan in an infant’s room while they sleep can decrease the risk for sudden infant death syndrome by up to 70 percent.6
Researchers believe that the ventilation offered by a fan helps to dissipate the carbon dioxide exhaled by the baby before she has a chance to re-inhale while sleeping.
For adults, a fan can help rid your room of any unpleasant smells or odors lingering in the air that may keep you awake at night. Make sure your bedroom door is left open and try to aim the fan in a way that will direct air out of the room.
3. Temperature Control
It’s a well-known fact that sleeping in cooler temperatures allows you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Cool sleeping temperatures help your body go into REM sleep much more efficiently.
While keeping your thermostat at a temperature conducive for this is important, a fan can offer a bit of assistance. Leaving a fan on while you sleep will help circulate cool air around your room and over your body. This will encourage your body temperature to drop more quickly, allowing you to slip into a sweet slumber with ease.
Whatever your decision, you can sleep easy knowing one thing: Sleeping with your fan on will not kill you!7
Do you sleep with a fan on? Let me know in the comments below!