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Why Does Sleeping With A Fan Make Your Throat Hurt? (And How To Fix The Problem)

Using a fan during the night can be useful and even essential in very hot climates or during warm periods. Some people sleep with a fan on every night, and claim it helps them get a better night’s sleep. The cooling breeze and white noise a fan emits can be incredibly comforting and help regulate your body temperature, leading to great quality sleep. But you may have noticed that sleeping with a fan on can cause a dry or even sore throat on waking in the morning.

There are both benefits and drawbacks to sleeping with a fan blowing, so before moving the fan into a different room, there are some things you can try to avoid getting a dry throat – we have listed 7 methods in our guide below. We’ll also discuss some alternatives to using a fan which give the same, wonderful, cooling effect to aid your sleep. But first, why do we get a sore throat from sleeping with a fan?

Why Does Sleeping With A Fan Make Your Throat Hurt?

Although it is not usually a fan alone that causes a sore throat after sleeping, there are 2 main, direct reasons sleeping with a fan can make your throat hurt…

sleep with a fan on

1. Constant Air Circulation

The constant circulation of air which blows across your mouth and nose, causing drying. The drying of mucous membranes stimulates your body to produce more mucus which can lead to headaches, stuffy noses, snoring, and throat irritation. This kind of congestion will also exacerbate any pre-existing problems you may have such as asthma and sinusitis. Sleeping with the fan on won’t directly make you sick, but it will worsen your symptoms is you already have a cold or flu.

2. Pre-Existing Allergies

With the constant circulation of air comes the constant circulation of allergens. Dust, pollen, and animal hair whirling around your room at night are guaranteed to give you problems in the morning, even if you don’t have allergies.

Allergens whirling around and getting breathed in by you throughout the night can cause typical symptoms like a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, breathing issues, and a sore throat. Fan blades standing around in the day will also gather dust, blowing it around the room when switched on.

Bad sleep quality can be associated with allergies, such as an allergy to house dust mites. Anything that exacerbates allergies, such as a fan blowing at night, may result in worse sleep quality as well as a sore throat.

Fans In Combination With Other Factors

Your body is usually very adept at humidifying the air you breathe in. This is a natural mechanism to help you retain water and prevent irritation. It protects your mucous membranes and airways, and helps you to achieve a restful night’s sleep. Most often it is not the fan alone that causes a sore throat. Check your room for these other factors which can cause problems.

An excess of dust in your room may cause a dry, scratchy throat in the morning regardless of whether you have a fan or not. Air blown by the fan will make this problem worse by whipping all available dust into the air.

Similarly, having the window wide open during the day can cause a lot of pollen to blow through, depending on the time of year and locality. If you have pets, and especially is they sleep in your room, their hair could be an irritant in combination with the fan.

Although fans may help to remove odours and make a room feel fresher, this is only a temporary effect. If you do not have a sufficient through-draft or circulation of fresh air from outside, your room will feel stuffy. This can cause congestion at night and result in an achy throat.

7 Ways To Reduce The Chances Of Waking Up With A Sore Throat While Using A Fan

If you really need to use a fan at night to help keep you cool or to aid certain medical conditions, there are some ways to reduce the chances of waking up with an aching throat.

1. Move The Fan Away

A common cause of throat drying, leading to a sore throat, is having the fan positioned to close to you and/or directly blowing onto you. This increases the chances of problems including congestion and muscle ache when you wake up in the morning. You should ideally place the fan at least 2 to 3 feet away from you. In this case, a portable fan is perfect, and can be positioned exactly where you need it in the room.

2. Use An Oscillating Fan

It is also recommended to purchase an oscillating, or rotating, fan to avoid a constant stream of air directly onto your body. These will rotate during the night, changing the flow of air and disrupting constant air circulation. Some fans have extra settings which make them optimal for sleep, such as this oscillating bladeless fan.

3. Find A Fan With A Timer

Some fans have a built-in timer which can be set to switch the fan off after a certain time limit. This is very useful in helping you to fall asleep in cool conditions and avoids potential drying of the mucous membranes and circulation of allergens during the night. Alternatively, there are some incredibly smart fans on the market with cool and hot functions, and air purification which makes them allergy-friendly (such as this Dyson Pure Cool).

4. Use A Humidifier Alongside

A fan can be used in combination with a humidifier, to add moisture to the air and avoid the drying effect a fan alone can create. Humidifiers can help you to breathe more easily during the night (and day!), making a great edition to your home. Some humidifiers, such as this one, are designed specifically for night-time use.

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5. Stay Hydrated

You may be able to avoid throat drying and waking up with a sore throat by ensuring you are well-hydrated before bed. Through drinking plenty of fluids in the evening, you may be able to keep your throat sufficiently hydrated during the night. Keeping a glass of water by your bed during the night can be useful if you wake up thirsty and/or with a dry throat. According to this study, inadequate hydration during sleep can reduce the duration of sleep.

6. Consider Purchasing Hypoallergenic Bedding

If you think allergens may be a problem for you, but you still need to sleep with a fan, purchasing hypoallergenic bedding could be a good option to minimise throat irritation. Hypoallergenic mattresses, mattress covers (like this one), bedsheets, and pillows can be found in many shops both online and in store. These materials will protect you from dust mites and allergens, creating a fresher and more breathable atmosphere.

7. Deep Clean Your Room

Deep cleaning – cleaning every corner, every nook and cranny of a room – can be very useful in this situation by removing excess dust and other potential allergens that fans may blow around during the night. Dusting, vacuuming, and then mopping is a good regime to follow. Try moving furniture, and washing furnishings like curtains to remove the maximum amount of dust – the more thorough the better,

Alternatives To Fans Which Don’t Create A Sore Throat In The Morning

If you’ve read through our article and decided against persisting with keeping a fan blowing while you sleep, there are some useful alternatives which can help keep you cool at night and maintain the freshness of your room…

  • Consider purchasing a cooling mattress (or cooling mattress topper if budget is an issue). This will help to boost the airflow while you sleep by taking the heat away from your body and minimising the accumulation of sweat.
  • Sleep in clothes that are loose-fitting, and made from natural fibers like silk, cotton or linen. Alternatively you could consider sleeping naked which may be enough to cool you down while you sleep.
  • Try blackout curtains or blinds – as well as shutting the light out and helping you to get better quality sleep, blackout curtains (like these ones) shut the sun out and stop the room from warming so quickly during long daylight hours.
  • Keep the door and/or window open during the day. This will help the airflow through the room, reducing stuffiness and cooling it down. You can also prop the window open at night for a nice cooling breeze (if the climate allows!).
  • Regularly maintain the air filters in your home, both passive air filters (those built into doors and windows) and those found in air conditioning units. Changing or cleaning out air filters every 1-2 months can give the best results, and help keep your house cool.
  • Pop a cold cloth on your head. This can help you fall asleep in cool comfort, and could be refreshed if you wake in the night.
  • Get some fresh air before bedtime. Spending just a short amount of time outside before settling down to sleep can really help reduce your body temperature. It will also lower your heart rate and help to trigger sleep-inducing hormones and internal functions in the body.
  • Lastly, invest in Bed Cooling Systems if money is NOT your concern.

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