fan in bedroom

When the temperature climbs, it’s only natural to turn on a fan—especially when you go to sleep. It’s an easy and instantaneous way to feel cooler as you catch some Z's. 

Surprisingly, though, sleeping with a fan might not be the best for your health. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of sleeping with a fan on. Plus, discover tips for minimizing the side effects of sleeping with a fan on you and other strategies to sleep cool.

Benefits of sleeping with a fan on

First, let’s start with the clear benefits of sleeping with a fan on.  

Keeps you cool and comfortable

The primary purpose of a fan is to make you feel cooler. If you sleep warm or if your bedroom gets too hot at night, “a fan is a good alternative to keep the sleep environment cooler, which helps maintain a lower body temperature overnight needed for sleep,” says Carleara Weiss, PhD, RN, and sleep science advisor for Aeroflow Sleep.

Provides white noise

One of the top benefits of sleeping with a fan is the white noise it creates. White noise refers to a broad sound frequency. 

“Disruptive noises outside the sleep environment can affect how we fall asleep and wake us up in the middle of the night,” says Weiss. “A white noise machine or a fan filters at least some of the unwanted sounds, helping sleep and promoting relaxation.”

A fan is also an affordable way to create white noise instead of purchasing a white noise machine, adds Weiss.

Freshens up the air

Weiss says bedroom air quality, temperature, and humidity can all affect sleep. A fan can help remove CO2 accumulated from breathing, which can result in better sleep.

Cuts your electricity bill

When it comes to your electricity bill, air conditioning can make it go sky-high, particularly during the summer. A fan requires less electricity, which means you may not have to use your air conditioner quite as much.

Helps prevent SIDS

One little-known benefit of sleeping with a fan on? Research shows it can actually help prevent SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than one year of age.

A study conducted with 185 mothers and their babies demonstrated that running a fan in a sleeping infant’s room lowered the risk for SIDS by 72%, says Weiss. Scientists linked this result to increased air circulation, which reduced the accumulation of carbon dioxide. 

"As a sleep scientist and clinician, I would suggest that parents with infants consider having a fan on while the baby sleeps to maximize CO2 removal from the room and reduce the risk of SIDS,” says Weiss. 

Drawbacks of sleeping with a fan on

There are also some negative side effects of sleeping with a fan on you. Here, we’ll answer the question: Is it bad to sleep with a fan on?

Increases allergies

“People with allergies may struggle while sleeping with a fan because it circulates dust, pollen, or other allergens accumulated in the sleep environment,” Weiss says. If you don’t suffer from allergies or asthma, then using a fan at night could be a good option for you.

Causes congestion

Does sleeping with a fan make your nose stuffy? Well, yes—it actually can. Nasal congestion can be one of the downsides of sleeping with a fan on, particularly for those who are more susceptible to allergies, explains Weiss.

Dries out your skin and eyes

With air constantly hitting you, dryness can be one of the side effects of sleeping with a fan on. Along with drying out your skin, Weiss says sleeping with a fan on can cause sinus irritation, dry eye, and a sore throat.

Worsens muscle aches

Did you know that sleeping with a fan on can actually produce muscle aches? “Stiff or sore muscles can result from continued exposure to cool air,” Weiss says. “In addition, the constant breeze can lead to neck and back pain the following day.”

How to reduce the negative effects of sleeping with a fan on

So, is it bad to sleep with a fan on? No, not if you work to mitigate the negative effects. Try these approaches if you deal with allergies, congestion, dryness, and muscle aches as a result of sleeping with a fan on. If they don’t help, it may be time to leave the fan out of your bedroom.

  • Aim for a clean environment: Try your best to keep allergens out of your bedroom, which can be accomplished through regular vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the blades, and using an air purifier or filter if necessary.
  • Point your fan in another direction or keep it at a distance: For those experiencing stiff or sore muscles, Weiss suggests keeping the fan pointed away from you, preferably into a wall, to prevent this problem. Keeping it a bit far away can help as well.
  • Set a timer: Perhaps you only need the fan on while you fall asleep. Setting it on a timer means it won’t run all night, so you can decrease its negative effects.
  • Use a humidifier instead of a fan: Weiss says this can be helpful to people who experience nasal congestion, sinus irritation, dry eye, and sore throat.

Other ways to sleep cool

A fan isn’t the only way to sleep cool throughout the night. Instead, you can:

  • Focus on your mattress and accessories: Aside from a fan or air conditioning, investing in a mattress, pillow, and blanket with a cooling system or temperature control are good ways to sleep better, Weiss says. (Check out our guide to the best cooling mattresses.)
  • Turn to cotton: Weiss says an affordable alternative to temperate-smart products is simply using bedding made with 100% cotton. (Here's how to choose cooling sheets.)
  • Take a warm bath: While it may seem counterintuitive, taking a warm bath right before bed can actually help lower your core body temperature. That's because your body will try to cool itself down after being immersed in warm water.
  • Go loose: Be sure to wear loose pajamas in 100% cotton—or sleep nude if you prefer.

FAQs

Why do I sleep better with a fan on?

Sleeping with a fan on can certainly help improve sleep quality due to its cooling effect and providing white noise. However, Weiss says this depends on whether you experience allergies, asthma, or muscle pain the next day. 

“People without these problems tend to sleep well with a fan, while others have difficulty sleeping and experience symptoms the next day or several days after sleeping with a fan,” she notes.

Is it bad to sleep with a fan blowing on you?

Can sleeping with a fan make you sick? Hypothetically, yes, if you’re prone to allergies, congestion, dryness, or muscle aches. If these symptoms don’t ring true for you, then sleeping with a fan can be a great option. 

Otherwise, you should strive to keep dust and pollen out of your bedroom, point the fan away from you, or set the fan on a timer if you feel like you must sleep with a fan on. A humidifier is a good replacement if sleeping with a fan proves impossible.

We put popular cooling products to the test to see if they could really improve your sleep quality. Here are the best products to keep you cool while sleeping.

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