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sleep / wellness
Sleeping with a Fan on – The Pros and Cons
by BetterSleep
Feb 2 2022 • 4 min read
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Using the sound of a fan for sleeping is a popular strategy for getting better, more continuous sleep. The white noise - like sound blocks out other sounds and provides a low, constant hum that may help you fall asleep faster, with fewer disruptions. Continue reading to understand the pros and cons of keeping the fan on all night and consider the alternatives.

Why Some People Benefit from Sleeping with a Fan on

People who turn on a fan before settling down for the night use it as a tool to improve their sleep. They find the noise soothing, or in some cases, it drowns out other, more disruptive noises. For instance, if you live on a noisy street, the constant drone of a fan blocks out the sounds of cars, noisy neighbors and everything else that can wake you up.

Some people also like the feeling of the air blowing on them as they fall asleep. This is even more true when it’s hot out and you find yourself without an air conditioner. Being too warm is usually a detriment to sleep, so the breeze from a fan can help.

Is a Fan White Noise?

For most people who use them, the primary benefit of a fan is the sound. White noise fan sounds drown out disruptive noises, and some people find the sound relaxing. But is a fan truly white noise?

Technically, the whirring sound of a fan is not white noise. By definition,white noise contains all frequencies of sound that humans can hear. A fan doesn’t provide this, but it is similar.

Studies have found that white noise can benefit sleep. It masks disruptive sounds and helps people maintain sleep, especially in noisy settings like a hospital.

Is Sleeping with a Fan on Safe?

Clearly, there are benefits of white noise and fan sounds on sleep, but there are downsides too. Some studies show mixed results for using white noise to improve sleep. Generally, keeping a fan on is low risk, so it may be worth trying. Just keep in mind these potential cons:

  • Dry Air. A fan moves circulating air through your airways, which can be drying. This can lead to congestion, a sore throat, snoring, and even headaches. It can also dry your skin, causing irritation.
  • Allergies. If you suffer from environmental allergens, a fan may worsen symptoms. It stirs up allergens and circulates them around the room.
  • Muscle pain. The cool air of a fan may cause you to tense up during the night. If you wake up with stiff, sore muscles, it could be the fan.

Sounds for Sleeping on the BetterSleep App

If you sleep better with the sound of a fan but don’t want the negative effects, use the BetterSleep app. You can listen to a fan without actually having a fan on in the bedroom. You might also like the air conditioner sound or pure white or pink noise as you drift off to sleep. Try a mix or try something new; you may find a custom mix of sounds that works even better than a fan.

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