Is Sleeping With A Fan On Bad For Health?

Sleeping with a floor or ceiling fan on is an excellent, low-budget way of keeping cool during the summer months, but the constant breeze may hurt your health. Your sleep may be disrupted from coughing and sneezing, or you may wake up feeling stiff and sore. On the other hand, sleeping with a fan circulates air and saves you money on your electricity bill.

Our article reviews the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping with a fan on and shares alternative ways to keep cool at night.

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Benefits of Sleeping with a Fan On

Sleeping with the fan keeps you cool through those hot and humid summers and consumes less energy than an air conditioner.

“Our body temperature falls on a night and we sleep better when our sleep environment is cooler,” says Professor Stuart Peirson at the University of Oxford.

As long as you take steps to minimize a fan’s negative impacts, like replacing air filters and keeping the fan at a safe distance from the bed, you can enjoy the benefits of continuous airflow.

Comfortable Sleep

The steady airstream from a fan helps regulate room temperature by wicking away moisture from your body. Hot sleepers, in particular, may appreciate the cooling power of electric fans—they’re less likely to wake up from night sweats if there’s a steady airstream.

Boost Air Circulation

An open window allows dirt, pollen, and other allergens into the bedroom, increasing the risk of sneezing and coughing at night, but a fan provides a constant stream of air without letting in allergens.

Save Money

A fan isn’t as effective as the constant blast of cold air from an air conditioner, but it consumes less energy. You can save money on your electricity bill during the summer months by using a fan instead of air conditioning.

To circulate cooler air from your electric fan, place a bowl of ice cubes in front of it. The cooler air feels similar to an air conditioner and may reduce room temperature, but the extra cool air only lasts a couple of hours.

Drawbacks of Sleeping with a Fan On

Allergic reactions, dry eyes and skin, congestion, and sore muscles are side effects you may experience when sleeping with a fan on. These negative effects disrupt sleep and lead to sleep deprivation.

Allergic Reactions

A fan doesn’t just circulate air—it also circulates dust mites, pollen, and dirt. Breathing in these allergens can trigger allergic reactions, including watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and trouble breathing. If you have asthma, hay fever, or allergies, these allergens can worsen symptoms.

Dry Eyes and Skin

Even with your eyes closed, the stream of air can dry out your eyes and cause discomfort. The air from a fan also causes dry skin, wicking away any moisture off the skin’s surface, and leaving your skin irritated and brittle. Using body lotion before bed may alleviate the problem.

Nasal Congestion

Leaving a fan on at night can dry nasal passages and cause a sore throat. Normally, nasal passages are covered with a thin layer of mucus to protect against foreign debris, like bacteria. Excessive dryness leads to the overproduction of mucus, which causes congestion and increases the risk of sinus infection.

Sore Muscles

A constant stream of cold air may lead to stiff and sore muscles in the morning. Muscles tense up when joints are exposed to cool air, especially if you have the fan next to the bed. Cold air can also cause painful muscle spasms if you have certain medical conditions, like multiple sclerosis.

How to Minimize the Negative Effects of Sleeping with a Fan On

Sleeping with a fan on may be bad for your health, but there are ways to reduce its negative effects for better sleep. Keeping the fan at a safe distance, replacing air filters, buying a rotating floor fan, and setting a timer can decrease dry air and reduce allergic reactions.

Keep at a Safe Distance

Instead of setting an electric fan right next to you, keep the fan at least 3 feet away, so the concentrated airflow doesn’t affect you as much—you’ll experience less muscle stiffness. Also, try to keep the fan running at a moderate speed to prevent excessive dryness, which may irritate skin and cause congestion.

Use an Air Filter

An air filter absorbs flurries of dust particles and pollen, reducing the risk of allergy flare-ups. Plus, an air filter reduces symptoms of asthma and hay fever.

Buy a Rotating Fan

Instead of a constant blast of air in one direction, a rotating fan moves air throughout the bedroom. You’ll feel cooler without the risk of sore muscles and dry eyes and nose.

Set a Timer

Setting a timer ensures the fan turns off a few hours after bedtime so you don’t feel constant blasts of air throughout the night.

Alternative Ways to Sleep Cool

Other cooling methods regulate temperature without the adverse effects of a running fan, like congestion. These options include showering before bed, hanging light-colored curtains, and choosing a cooling mattress and bedding.

Shower Before Bed

A warm shower or bath before bed raises your body temperature, but improves the body’s natural drop in temperature as you prepare for sleep. The cooler internal temperature slows blood flow and heart rate, causing you to feel sleepy.

Light-Colored Curtains

Try to avoid dark-colored curtains because they absorb heat, raising the room temperature. Light-colored curtains reflect light and heat, so the bedroom feels cooler.

“However, be aware that light-colored curtains may allow more light from outside into your bedroom,” says Professor Peirson. “This means that if you have outdoor light pollution this could disturb your sleep. In addition, daylight will more likely wake you in the morning. This can be a good thing, but may not be ideal if you work shifts or in the summer when the sun rises early.”

Cool Mattress and Bedding

Cooling mattresses, like memory foam mattresses with cooling technologies or hybrids with open coil systems, absorb body heat and improve circulation inside the bed. You’re less likely to wake up hot.

Sleeping with breathable bedding made from cotton and bamboo also regulates body temperature because they wick away moisture and allow hot air to escape.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best sleeping temperature?

The best sleeping temperature is between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. As you prepare for sleep, your body temperature drops—heart rate and blood flow decrease, causing the muscles to relax. A room cooler or warmer than the recommended sleeping temperature may lead to poor sleep quality because the body struggles to maintain a comfortable core temperature of 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is it better to sleep with or without a pillow?

If you’re a stomach sleeper, you may sleep better without a pillow. When you lie on your stomach, there’s little to no gap between your neck and the mattress. Sleeping with a pillow lifts your head higher than your shoulders and strains neck muscles, causing pain. However, sleeping without a pillow aligns the head with your shoulders and hips, and you’re less likely to experience a stiff neck.

Can sleeping with the fan on cause headaches?

Sleeping with a fan dries out nasal passages; then the body overproduces mucus. The excess mucus flows into your sinuses, effectively blocking them and causing sinus headaches. For best practices, set the fan at a moderate speed, so the air isn’t too dry in the bedroom.

Is sleeping with the window open better than sleeping with the fan on?

It depends—sleeping with the window open allows fresh air into the room. Still, pollen, dust mites, and other allergens can also enter and cause coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes, and trigger asthma attacks. Leaving the window open at night may also let in loud sounds, like cars rushing past or people talking loudly walking by, disturbing your sleep. Sleeping with the fan on ensures air circulation without outside allergens and loud noises in the bedroom.


Sleeping with a fan on is a cost-effective way to keep cool, but the constant breeze may cause allergic reactions, congestion, and sore muscles. If you have allergies, but like having a fan on as you sleep, use a humidifier and air filter to reduce negative effects for a good night’s sleep.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

Michelle Zhang, Wellness Writer Michelle Zhang

Michelle Zhang is a regular contributor to our Zoma blog and is our go-to sleep researcher. In her time with Zoma, Michelle has researched and published many articles on widespread sleeping habits and troubles. In her time outside of Zoma, Michelle is an occupational therapist and long-distance runner. She believes leading a healthy lifestyle is the key to getting better sleep at night. Michelle's work has been featured on Men's Journal, The Frisky, and The Mighty.

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