Realistically, a fan is just plastic blades that move air around. But, this simple machine can help with relaxation and comfort, which, in turn, improves sleep.
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Generally, people use fans while sleeping for two reasons: to cool them down and/or for the white noise that they provide. Both of these reasons are a matter of personal preference and your sleeping situation.
Fans for Sleeping —Key Considerations
Noise: Although it would seem that people sleep best in quiet environments, studies have shown that white, background noise can help people sleep because it allows our brain to turn off. White noise prevents us from overthinking and hearing every little noise that can interrupt sleep. Basically, the consistent background noise that fans provide can mask other sounds and thoughts, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
However, not all fans sound the same. Oftentimes, you will find fans that are virtually noiseless, while others can make as much noise as all of your home’s appliances combined. Whether you prefer either of these or you are somewhere in the middle, there are fans available that have what you are looking for.
Temperature: A large part of being comfortable at night is temperature, and most people find it difficult to sleep comfortably if they are too warm. Sleep experts have determined that the optimal sleeping temperature is between 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit, which is significantly cooler than the average room temperature. Then, factor in sheets, blankets, PJs, and heat from other bodies, and it is no mystery why fans become necessary for comfortable sleeping.
Ironically, fans make air hotter due to the mechanisms and electricity needed to make the blades turn. Fans only work because our bodies start sweating when they are overheated, so the air hits our damp skin, giving the perception that the air feels cool. But, this doesn’t matter. If the fan is helping you, even just mentally, there is no reason not to use one for sleep.
So, although you probably won’t find a fan that can cool your bedroom from 74 degrees Fahrenheit to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, it can provide the cool breeze that you need to feel comfortable. Keep in mind that your preferences may change with the seasons, so look for a fan with high, medium, and low settings to address this.
Fan Type: There are four main types of fans—tower, desk, pedestal, and box— and they are generally named for their shape. Tower fans are usually about 3 to 4 feet tall and have a narrow cylindrical shape; desk fans are circular and small with a stand meant to be placed on a surface that isn’t the floor; pedestal fans are shaped like a lollipop with a circular-shaped fan at the top of a stand that can be about 3 to 4 feet tall; box fans are square, have no stand, and can be placed on the floor or on a surface.
Recently, techy “bladeless” fans have been introduced to the market, but the traditional styles are still more popular and reliable. Additionally, there are between-the-sheets fans that vary in design, but each one is meant to be placed under sheets and blankets for a more direct cooling experience.
The biggest differences between the fan types are how much air they move and where they are meant to be used. Generally speaking, tower and box fans are more powerful and push more air than desk and pedestal fans, and each fan varies in their stand and size, which determines where they should be placed.
However, the type of sleep fan you need can also come down to the other features the fan has. Do you need a sleep fan that oscillates? Would it be helpful for the fan to have a remote or timer? Should your sleep fan be controlled by an app? Should it have multiple speeds? Each of these features should help contribute to the ultimate goal, which is restful, uninterrupted, comfortable sleep.
Fan Location: Where the fan will be positioned can help you decide on the right sleep fan for you. Fortunately, the different types of fans vary in their shapes and sizes, so they have almost all spaces covered, but there are a few more points to think about. Consider the space in your bedroom in terms of how close you want the fan to be to you, how big the fan is, if the fan needs space to oscillate, if anything will block the airflow, and if the fan will go on the floor or on a surface.
Some of these points are a matter of preference, while other are simply about working with the space you’ve got. For example, certain individuals want to fan to be blowing air directly on them while they sleep, while others are more concerned about the noise, so the location is less important. Plus, if you are working with limited space, there is always the option of hanging your fan from a wall or the ceiling or choosing a small fan that fits your needs. Once you have determined where the fan will go, it is easy to see which type of sleep fan will fit that location.
What Are the Top Five Fans for Sleeping?
Here is a summary of the top five fans for sleeping, each offering a unique combination of desirable features. All of these products are highly rated, and sleep tested.
What Else Should You Consider When Using and Purchasing Fans for Sleeping?
As is the case when buying any product, there are a large variety of sleep fans on the market, and sometimes it can be difficult to weigh all of the different options and features.
The recommended sleep fans listed above represent a large range of options, but there are a few other ideas to consider, such as how easy the fan is to clean, how energy efficient it is, its durability, its price, its portability, and of course, any disadvantages to using a fan for sleeping.
Every home has dust, and depending on the other inhabitants of the home, it could also have hair and pet dander.
This is why being able to clean the fan thoroughly, inside and out, can make a big impact on the quality of the air your fan blows around your home.
A dirty fan is especially harmful to people who suffer from allergies or asthma because the flow of air can activate the allergens and irritants.
Similarly, fans can cause sinus irritation even for people who don’t suffer from allergies or asthma.
A fan blows dry air, which can irritate your airways creating mucus, blockage, and pressure, as if you caught a never-ending cold.
Luckily there are solutions to this: buying a fan that is easy to clean or using a humidifier with the fan.
Equally important is the fan’s energy efficiency. Since your sleep fan could be running for hours at a time every single day, it is a good idea to find a fan that won’t make your electric bill go up.
Many of the fans available are already built to be energy efficient, but you may want to consider running your fan on a lower setting to save even more energy.
As a side note—this also impacts your fan’s white noise; generally, a higher speed setting creates more noise, but that is a matter of your personal preference.
Lastly, think about how long you expect your fan to last. This will help you determine how much you want to spend, as well as what you can expect for the amount you pay.
Usually, the more you pay, the more durable your fan will be and the longer your fan should last.
But since sleep fans aren’t often moved from their spot in your bedroom (unless you’re also looking for a fan you can travel with), they should remain stable.
It is up to you to decide how much you are willing to invest in a fan, and what your expectations of it are.
Fans for Sleeping —Final Thoughts
Even though sleep fans are just simple machines, the impact they can have on your much-needed rest should not be understated because they address some basic prerequisites of the ideal sleep: comfort and temperature.
Although sleep fans may have a few disadvantages, most people agree that the perfect one can make all the difference.