Home Improvement Magazine

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

By Richard Morse @insidebedroom

Two good questions: is sleeping with a fan on safe and can it make you feel sick? The answer in each case is yes and maybe! Let's first have a look at the safety aspects - is it safe to sleep with a fan on? A fan circulates the air in your bedroom while you sleep. This prevents the air in your bedroom from forming pockets of carbon dioxide and becoming stagnant.

We are not referring to fans designed to draw air into your bedroom from outside, such as a window fan or a ceiling fan attached to external ducting. We refer to fans designed to move or circulate air in your room.

Table of Contents

The Importance of Air Circulation

1. Air Movement and Air Circulation

If the air in any room has no movement other than you and your partner (if you have one) breathing then it will tend to settle with heavier air components, such as carbon dioxide, at floor level and the lighter components, such as oxygen, at higher levels. This can lead to you breathing the stale, stagnant air at bed level throughout the night. Most people will detect a stagnant, unpleasant odor when they walk into a bedroom that has not been aired. This can be unhealthy if you have been breathing it during the night.

Air Circulation: By using a fan to circulate the air in your bedroom, or even just to move it about, you will prevent these stagnant pockets of air from forming and help keep your bedroom smell better and become healthier to sleep in. However, air circulation is not the only benefit of sleeping with a fan on. Other benefits may prompt people to invest in a fan to run all night or even set to switch on and off regularly throughout the night.

2. Stay Cool In Summer With Memory Foam

Many people like the feel of memory foam and the way it conforms to the shape of their body while they lie on a memory foam mattress. Such mattresses can provide excellent targeted support for those with orthopedic problems, enabling them to rest and sleep well without excessive pressure being imposed on their main pressure point leading to pain in their spine and joints, such as the lower back, hips, shoulders, and knees.

However, there is one issue that many people experience when sleeping on a memory foam mattress - or trying to sleep! Many memory foams can make you feel excessively hot while trying to get to sleep, particularly during the summer months. Those living in the southern states of the USA can feel this heat and sweatiness to extremes in mid-summer. The same is true of those living between the tropics or in humid conditions. A cooling fan can often help prevent your sweating, but not always. You can overcome this to an extent by using a cooling memory foam mattress.

3. Use a Cooling Memory Foam Mattress or Mattress Topper

The Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress is a cooling memory foam mattress with the benefit of a layer of coils that promotes airflow through the mattress and a gel memory foam that disperses your body heat throughout the mattress. You can also use a cooling memory foam mattress topper on top of your existing mattress to help you stay cool without losing the memory foam experience. However, you may find that a cooling layer in your memory foam mattress or a cooling mattress topper might not be enough to cool you down - you may also need to keep the fan running while you sleep to maximize the cooling effect.

4. Keep Cool with Memory Foam By Sleeping with a Fan

If you don't want to change your mattress or buy a memory foam mattress topper, you can keep cool by sleeping with a fan on. Is sleeping with a fan on safe? Yes, it is, assuming that you stick to some rules. By doing so, you can cool down the mattress and yourself with a simple air fan. The air movement evaporates perspiration and cools you down by doing so. A cool you leads to a cooler mattress. You can use a fixed fan that is placed to blow on a fixed area of the mattress. However, it is better to use a circulating or oscillating fan that spreads cool air all around your bedroom.

The White Noise Effect

1. What is White Noise

White noise is a humming sound that combines all sound frequencies. It can generally help people to fall asleep. While a fan works like an inexpensive white noise machine, it may not be as effective as a genuine white noise machine for many people and might not work at all with some. It covers background sounds such as slamming doors, car alarms and horns, sirens, shouting, and many other types of background noise such as noisy neighbors. It is an ideal, inexpensive solution for those who cannot easily fall asleep without some form of sound in their ears.

Some loud sounds at certain frequencies can either wake you up or keep you awake. As stated above, white noise combines all sound frequencies and does so at equal intensities or levels of loudness. One result of this is that certain disturbing loud sounds, such as those mentioned in the paragraph above, are camouflaged or obscured. In other words, they lose their ability to keep you awake or to wake you up when your ears detect them.

2. Sleeping With a Fan

Sleeping with a fan on is just like using a white noise machine for many people. They help you overcome insomnia and other sleep defects. If you are one of those, you will find it easy to get to sleep if you run the fan while you try to sleep. Most types of fans can be used in this way, particularly a floor fan or a ceiling fan. Not only can sleeping with a fan running help you fall asleep, but it can also help you stay cool during the night.

A fan is ideal if you tend to get hot during the night. It can also help cool your bedroom by promoting air movement around the room, particularly if you sleep with the doors and windows closed. However, it's not all positive! A fan can keep some people awake, preventing them from getting to sleep and in some cases can even bring on an asthma attack or result in some other side effects such as drying out your eyes.

So sleeping with a fan on all night can help many people get to sleep when they would otherwise not have been able to. However, for others, it may result in unwanted side effects. So what are the negative aspects of running a fan while you sleep? Can it make you feel sick? How about temperature and humidity control? Here are some answers to these questions and others.

Negative Aspects of Sleeping With a Fan

There are some negative aspects of sleeping with a fan running. The most common is damage to the ears, particularly with children.

White Noise and NIHL: If the fan is too loud it will create a risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). For adults, an 8-hour working day at 85 decibels (dB) is too loud for too long and can put you at risk of NIHL. White noise at over 50 dB can be upsetting for the sensitive ears of babies. It is important not to keep the fan on all day or the child may be deprived of hearing regular daily sounds such as music and general everyday noise including speech. Many believe that some children will be unable to sleep without a fan running if it is on all night long

Noise for Toddlers and Adults: It may also be wise to use the same maximum decibel count figure with toddlers, although round about 60 dB would be acceptable, and adults should not be exposed to the noise of 60 dB on a continuous basis. The World Health Organization has published details of a training package for the health sector appertaining to Children and Noise. Click Ctrl plus the link to access this.

Pink Noise Fans for Babies, Toddlers, and Adults: Pink noise can help you and your baby fall more quickly into a longer and deeper sleep than white noise. It is considered to be more soothing than white noise and better for babies and toddlers' ears than white noise. When you are snoozing, pink noise helps you or your baby fall into a deeper and longer sleep. Pink noise is also safe with no downside. One study found that people who used it fell into a deeper and longer sleep. Pink noise is like white noise, but with lower sound waves and deeper sounds which may result in a gentler and more soothing sound.

Check out the Honeywell Dreamweaver Pink Noise oscillating fan with 4 light dimming settings and 3 fan speeds. We believe this to be one of the best pink noise machines on the market. It is available from Amazon in the USA, UK, and other countries.

Can Sleeping With a Fan on Make You Feel Sick?

From the information above, it seems evident that sleeping with a fan on is safe and is soothing for adults and for children, given that the level of sound (decibel level - or dB) is within safe limits for the age group. However, there is also some evidence that it can make you feel sick. If not physically sick, then there are some negative aspects to it. Here are some of these. We start with the effects of the fan itself, as opposed to the sound it makes.

Dust and Allergies: Many rooms have dust lying on surfaces that can be blown about by the air movement caused by the fan. Many people are allergic to pollen which may be blown about the bedroom by the fan. Many can also be allergic to the components of general house dust that can be raised from carpets, dressers, and other hard surfaces whether polished or not. Dust may even be deposited on the blades of your fan, so make sure you clean these before turning them on each evening. Pollen and other dust can lead to serious conditions, such as asthma, hay fever, and other allergic reactions for those who are allergic to pollen, pet dander from their deposited skin cells, and other sources of dust. However, there are things you can do to avoid this. Check out these suggestions by WebMD.

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

Sinus Problems: Running a fan constantly through the night, or even for a pre-set period, can dry out the passage between your nose and the back of your throat. This can also affect your sinuses. If your nasal passages are particularly dry, your body can react by excreting excessive quantities of mucus which can partially block your nose and lead to sinus irritation or headaches.

Muscle Pain: When cool air is directly blown onto your body, any muscles affected can be chilled and cramped. A stiff neck is a common result of sleeping with the fan close to your face and neck. Pain can also be experienced in other muscles that are directly in the way of cool air blown by the fan. The obvious remedy for this is to move the fan so that it is not blowing directly onto your body.

Dry Skin and Eyes: It seems obvious, but many people are unaware of the fact that constantly blowing air onto your skin and eyes can dry your skin and your eyes. Some people sleep with an open mouth, and a steady stream of air can dry their mouth as well as any skin affected. Sure, you can use creams and moisturizers to remedy this to a degree, but it is better to avoid the cause of the dryness than to treat it. Another issue can be your eyes. Some people sleep with their eyes partially open, and this can result in their eyes drying out.

The obvious remedies for the issues above are first to keep your bedroom as dust-free as possible, and to redirect the fan so that the noise is helping you to sleep without blowing onto your body. Keep in mind that the objective of sleeping with a fan on is that the sound it makes lulls you to sleep, not that the moving air dries you out and blows dust about.

So, can sleeping with a fan on make you feel sick? Sure it can if you forget the purpose of the fan! It is not used for its air movement which has little effect on whether you sleep or not, but for the noise or sound, it makes to gently lull you to sleep. A white noise machine does not blow air about, so your fan need not do so either.

Who Benefits From Sleeping With a Fan?

Many people benefit from using a regular fan to help them sleep. This is particularly true of those who sleep with their bedroom doors and windows closed. The fan not only helps move the air about in the bedroom but also the noise or sound it makes can lull them to sleep - in much the same way as a white noise machine does. If you get hot during the night, a fan would be ideal for you. It not only helps keep you cool, but the continual sound also helps you get to sleep.

This is particularly true if you are trying to sleep with a lot of disturbing background noise both in and outside your home. Traffic noise, airports, a railroad running by your house, people talking or shouting, and noisy neighbors can all fade into the background when you are running a fan. Some even use a fan to keep themselves cool on their side of the bed, while their partner sleeps hotter on the other side of the bed. A trial carried out in 2008 concluded that a fan was more effective than an open window for ventilating a room and keeping carbon dioxide lower than an open window can result in a reduction in sudden infant death syndrome.

Fan Use During Sleep: Relationship With SIDS

A trial was carried out in eleven California counties in 2008 to examine the relation between room ventilation during sleep and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The trial involved the use of a fan and an open window without a fan during sleep. Involved in the trial were mothers of 185 infants with a confirmed SIDS diagnosis and 312 randomly selected infants matched on the county of residence, maternal race/ethnicity, and age.

The use of a fan during sleep was associated with a 72% reduction in SIDS risk over those using an open window. The report stated the result of certain factors involved in the trial, such as infants sharing a bed with a parent vs. sharing with a non-parent and infants using pacifiers and not using pacifiers. The conclusion stated that: Fan use may be an effective intervention for further decreasing SIDS risk in infants in adverse sleep environments.

Note: According to some studies, such as the above, using a fan can help prevent SIDS. The reason given is that fans lower the temperature and thus reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the room.

Who Should Not Sleep with a Fan?

The only people who should not sleep with a fan are those with dust allergies, sinus issues, and who suffer from muscle pain and dry skin and eyes when the fan is running. Also, babies and toddlers where the fan noise is above the recommended decibel level as indicated above. This includes adults where the fan noise is continuously above 60 dB.

If there is a health issue then action should be taken to reduce its likelihood. For example, keep the fan clean of dust, and where it is impossible to remove all pollen and dust from the fan then get a new one. If the fan is continuously blowing in the direction of an individual with a tendency to cause a health concern as described above, then use a fan that rotates and blows air in all directions in the bedroom rather than in one particular direction. Fans should not be dangerous unless they are too loud or improperly used.

Is Sleeping With a Fan on Safe: Summary

Sleeping with a fan on is safe assuming that it is clean of dust and pollen, is not too loud, and is not continuously blowing on the same area of your body. For example, a continuous stream of air blowing on your face can dry out your nose and throat, particularly if you keep your mouth open while you sleep - and many do! In such cases, a rotating or oscillating fan, where the airflow continuously changes direction, is safer than a fixed direction fan.

A fan is an excellent piece of equipment to help you get to sleep, and sleep cool. In fact, it is just as effective and less costly than a white noise machine or recording of rain falling. Unlike white noise machines, fans can cool you while also emitting multi-frequency noise to help you sleep. Pink noise oscillating fans are particularly effective in helping you and your children to sleep. It is likely the most cost-effective piece of equipment available to help improve your sleep quality and that of your children including babies and toddlers.

So, the answer to the question "Is sleeping with a fan on safe?" is indubitable Yes! But "Can it make you feel sick?" is also Yes! However, if you follow the advice given, then you should be able to avoid any of the illnesses or conditions that sleeping with a fan can cause. A Pink Noise fan is more effective than a White Noise fan or even a regular fan where getting to sleep and quality of sleep are the objectives for adults and their young children.

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