Do you turn on a fan before bed? While some people say the cool breeze and low hum help them fall asleep, there could be some drawbacks.

Fans don’t pose serious risks during the night, but for some people, they might lead to mildly irritating symptoms.

Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of sleeping with a fan on.

Potential drawbacks to using a fan at night include:

Congestion

Circulating air from a fan can dry out your mouth, nose, and throat. This could lead to an overproduction of mucus, which may cause headaches, a stuffy nose, sore throat, or even snoring.

While a fan won’t make you sick, it may worsen symptoms if you’re already under the weather. You might be able to improve congestion by drinking more water and using a humidifier along with the fan.

Allergies

Fans can circulate dust and pollen in the air, which may trigger allergies in some people.

The fan blades themselves are another unwelcome source of dust. If you inhale these allergens, you could experience symptoms, such as runny nose, itchy throat, sneezing, watery eyes, or breathing difficulties.

Dry eyes and skin

The air from a fan can dry out your skin and eyes. Moisturizing your skin and using soothing eye drops may help you avoid these symptoms.

Muscle aches

Concentrated circulating air may cause your muscles to tense up or cramp. In this way, a fan can prompt you to wake up with sore muscles.

You can help lessen your chances for developing muscle aches by pointing the fan away so the air doesn’t blow directly on you.

The wind from a fan while you sleep might also offer the following advantages:

Cooling effects

The most apparent benefit of a fan is that it can keep you cool and comfortable while you sleep.

Being too hot at night can prevent you from falling or staying asleep. And too much sweating may lead to a loss of important minerals that your body needs.

White noise

Many people rave about the soothing sound of a fan. This hum is similar to the sound of white noise and may help you fall asleep.

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.

Air freshener

Fans may help circulate stale air and freshen up a room. This can make your bedroom less stuffy and prevent unpleasant odors.

SIDS prevention

Some research has shown having a fan on during the night lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in babies.

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.

If you do decide to use a fan at night, you might want to purchase a portable one so you can move it around. Keeping the fan 2 to 3 feet away will protect you from a concentrated airflow.

An oscillating fan also prevents the flow of air from moving in only one direction.

Some fans come with timers that will turn the device off after a couple of hours, which can help minimize your exposure.

Also, it’s important to clean your fan blades often to ensure that they’re free from dust.

If you don’t want to use a fan, try some alternative ways to keep cool at night:

  • Use a cooling mattress. There are many types of mattresses that boost airflow and draw heat away from the body. Some of these incorporate technologies, such as charcoal, gel-infusion, and copper.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Loose, soft clothes that are made of cotton, silk, or linen can help keep you cool. Steer clear of rayon, fleece, or polyester, which can promote warmth.
  • Use blackout curtains. Keeping the sun out of your room can help keep it cooler.
  • Take a hot bath. Though it sounds counterproductive, taking a hot bath can actually help cool you down before bed. It’s best to bathe before but not immediately prior to going to bed.
  • Keep your door open during the day. This will help air move from room to room.
  • Maintain air filters. Cleaning and replacing your air filter can keep your home cool. You should change your air filters about once every 1 to 2 months for best results.
  • Use a cold cloth. Placing a cold cloth on your head may help keep you cool throughout the night.

There are pros and cons to sleeping with a fan on at night. While the circulating air might aggravate allergies and dry out your skin and eyes, a fan can also provide comfort and soothing white noise.

You might want to consider using a fan at night for infants under 1 year old. Also, people who sweat a lot or are constantly hot may benefit from a fan.

But if you suffer from allergies or asthma, you may want to find a different way to keep cool.