Heatwaves have been making their way across the globe leaving many of us hot, sweaty, and sticky. Not all of us enjoy the luxury of air-conditioning. So, we have to make do with what we can. The obvious runner-up would be a fan. However, studies have shown that this option might not be the most hygienic. It might cool you down for a comfortable sleep, but is it really worth it?
Sleeping with the fan on, or off?
Those who have attempted sleeping through the night with the fan on full blast may have woken up with a stuffy nose. If you had not connected the dots between the constant breeze from the fan and your blocked sinus, then now is your chance. There is a direct link between your blocked nasal cavities and wind, which the fan creates. This is because the fan moves dry air around the room. so, it irritates and dries out our nose, mouth, and throat.
According to Sleep Advisor, “The constant stream of air also has a tendency to dry out your nasal passages, which could affect your sinuses,” says the website. “If the dryness is particularly extreme, it can result in your body producing excess mucus to try to compensate. Then, you’re more susceptible to blockage, stuffiness, and sinus headaches.”
A fan can be even more annoying for those who endure hay fever symptoms every day. Furthermore, those who have allergies might not appreciate the pollen that the fan blows around your room. Particularly in spring and summertime.
It can make your body stiff
Not only can a fan affect your sinus and throat by drying them out, but the cool air can also make your body’s muscles feel stiff in the morning when you wake up. “People who sleep with a breeze directly on them may wake up with stiff or sore muscles,” says Sleep Advisor. “This is because the concentrated cool air can make muscles tense up and cramp.” The website added: “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.”
Read: How to Fix Your Sleep Problems with Science
Benefits of a fan
Even though most of us struggle with the negative effects of sleeping with a fan on, there are many benefits to appreciate. According to Healthline, sleeping with a fan on can cool you down dramatically. If the weather is very hot, this might end up being the safer route. Particularly for babies. SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a tragic phenomenon where babies just die in their sleep. There is some evidence to suggest that a fan can lower the risk of SIDS. According to the website, “In one 2008 article published in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, researchers found fan use during sleep was associated with a 72 percent reduction in SIDS risk.”
Some people also appreciate the white noise of the fan. Health Line said: “In one study involving 40 newborn babies, researchers found that 80 percent fell asleep within 5 minutes of being exposed to white noise compared to 25 percent of the babies in the control group.”
A 2021 study also found that white noise improved sleep for people who have trouble sleeping due to high levels of environmental noise.
If you are one of those who cannot sleep without a fan on, then there are some things you can do to prevent any of the aforementioned side effects. You could make sure that it is on a low setting, and a few several feet away from you. Not only that, but you could also have it facing in a different direction. The breeze will still create circulation through the room, and you will still get the fresh air effect. Adding a humidifier to your room will also add some moisture, so the fan won’t dry up your sinus as much.
Ultimately, the choice is yours when it comes to a fan. If you find it works well for you, but with few or none of the side effects. Go for it. They’re effective and affordable.
Keep Reading: 6 Health Benefits of Sleeping in a Cold Room and How to Make it Cooler – and Why You Might Want to Skip On a Fan