How to Sleep with a Noisy Bedroom Fan

Struggling to decide between sweating all night, or being kept awake by the noise of a fan in the bedroom? We just went through a massive heatwave here, and I feel your pain! There’s fewer things worse than tossing and turning in a dark, sweaty, noisy dungeon of a bedroom.

Thankfully I managed to get used to it, and began to even prefer sleeping with a fan on! The key to sleeping with a fan is to appreciate the positive aspects of it (white noise and air circulation), allow some time to get used to it, and to follow some tips and tricks to minimize the disturbance it causes you. Let’s discuss how to do all of these below.

Note: This article is on how to get a great night’s sleep with a fan whirring next to you. If you are a rockstar who has googled ‘how to sleep with a fan’ for more immoral reasons, you’re in the wrong place! Mick Jagger if this is you again, that means you, too.

Is sleeping with a (bedroom) fan bad for you?

I’m sure when you first asked Google for an answer, there were a bunch of really scary articles looking at you. With headlines like ‘why you should NEVER sleep next to a fan’! Well, don’t worry. They are really exaggerating things. I’m going to quickly clear up these health reasons first.

Reasons ‘they say’ not to sleep next to a fan (and disproved by science):

  1. It circulates pollen and dust. Yes, these can cause irritation, ruin your sleep and just be a nuisance – especially to those with allergies. First, this is a bit of an overstatement – it’s not likely you’ve got a jet engine next to you. Second, picking up a cheap air filter will almost altogether solve this. No biggie.
  2. It dries out your skin and will make your nose overproduce (ew). It’s true that a constant flow of air onto your skin will dry it out, which can have undesirable side effects if your nostrils dry out. The super-complicated solution? Don’t put the fan right next to you, and let it oscillate. 
  3. Muscles can cramp up / get uncomfortable from being cold. This is another overstatement – if you’ve got a fan on next to you, chances are it’s a pretty warm night. These muscle cramping issues are typically from air conditioner fans, and can also be solved using the master tactic from 2.

Basically, don’t worry about any health-related reasons when it comes to using a fan. Whatever makes you the most comfortable in the heat is what matters – though there are a few pointers to follow (I’ve written these out below). But first, a quick note..

Just bought a new fan? Be patient

If you’re reading this after night #1 of sleeping with a new fan, then give it some time. We are very habitual creatures, and any change in routines can cause a bit of disturbance to our natural rhythms.

Suddenly introducing a new noise while you’re trying to sleep will always make your brain latch onto it – it’s new, and our subconscious is still very aware of it. The only solution you may need is time. Stick with keeping the fan on for a few nights and let yourself get used to the noise. At the same time, make sure to follow the tips below to make sure it’s not going to disturb you.

It may seem impossible at first, but we humans are so incredibly adaptable. You likely know someone who can fall asleep in just about any situation. That’s not a natural thing, they probably just grew up sleeping in a very noisy environment. Unfortunately for those of us that grew up sleeping in silence, any kind of noise will require some adjustment. But don’t worry. All it takes is a bit of time, and it’ll get easier every night.

How to find fan noise relaxing

Are you unable to ever sleep next to a fan? You’re far from alone – yet there’s only really one key difference between those who can and those who can’t. And it’s a mental one. You need to view the fan as a nice thing. Not just for the cool air it’s blowing on you – that’s a given. But for the other reasons, too.

Depending on how you look at it, fans can produce either an ‘annoying buzzing’ – or a calming white noise that you can use to zone out. The difference is only what you choose to perceive. Next time you’re trying to sleep, instead of trying to ignore than fan noise, embrace it. Listen to the continuous noise pattern; constant and softly blowing. Feel the air traveling over you with each pass, and really enjoy the fresher air that’s being circulated. Think about how nice it is that you’re not stuck with stale air, but instead have this breeze to keep help your comfort. Treating a fan as a positive thing makes all the difference in the world to how much it disturbs you.

Doing this over some time will eventually cause you to prefer the fan! Stick with it and it can get so ingrained to into your sleeping routine that a quiet room with a fan noise sends the same signal to your brain as fresh bedsheets on a cool night. Take it from me – it works.

How to get the most out of your fan and minimize the disturbance it causes

I want to cover three quick tips for any bedroom fan user. While it can be tempting to just grab the nearest fan and point it full blast at your face, we now both know that’s really not the best idea.

Quick tip #1: Keep it at a distance. Avoid any concentrated airflow on your skin by keeping the fan far enough away to not irritate you, but still be effective. About 4 feet should do the trick. Closer is fine if only it’s oscillating, or consider going a little further if you’ve got a direct air flow going on.

Quick tip #2: Oscillate! Unless it’s absolutely necessary, oscillating is the way to go. It makes sure your skin won’t suffer from irritation during the night, which is the most important thing. However, I also find it to be the more relaxing/sleep-inducing option. There’s something about the slow, repeating pattern of the fan and air movement which becomes quite soothing once you’re relaxed and in the mood to rest.

Quick tip #3: Use an air filter. If you live in a big city, own any furry pets, or have any kind of allergy to anything air-borne, investing the $10-$20 in an air filter is totally worth it. There’s no real way of knowing just how much you’re being affected by bad airflow until you solve it. While you may think you’re okay, considering how important sleep is it’s typically worth the cash if you think there’s any chance you may be affected.

Dealing with extreme heat

If the heat is just unbearableplease don’t just ignore all of this and put the fan right next to your bed! There are better ways to tackle the heat. Here’s ten quick tips to follow in order to beat the heat:

  1. Switch to energy saving lightbulbs – they produce far less heat, which really adds up after having the lights on for hours!
  2. Similarly, unplug as many electronics as you can. Especially those with those big bulky power sockets (looking at you, laptop chargers).
  3. Spray your drapes/curtains with water, especially if you’re fan will be blowing on them
  4. Drench a washcloth in cold water, and drape it over your feet and/or head.
  5. Similarly, slightly dampen your whole bedsheet – and place it in the fridge/freezer for a double effect.
  6. Consider changing your mattress. Straw or bamboo mattresses can be godsends in the summer – they allow air to flow through it, preventing a big heat buildup.
  7. Heard of hot water bottles? Try a cold water one. Fill it, freeze it, hug it.
  8. Try making your own mini-air conditioner! All you really need is ice and a way to place frozen items right below the fan’s airflow.
  9. Don’t eat any big meals or carbohydrates before bed. These act as fuel for your body’s engine – which of course, heats you up. If you’re peckish in the evening, try settling for something light instead.
  10. Place your fans aiming towards the window – this blows out the warm air, which in turn pulls in cool air from outside due to the pressure difference. Placing fans at the window and directing them inwards only moves the warm air already in your room around.

Finally, if your fan is just too loud, not strong enough, or too old in general – don’t hesitate to shop for a new one! Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to lead a happy life. For health, focus, and especially for happiness. Don’t second guess whether some money is worth sacrificing any of those things.

I hope these tips have at least given you a few ways to try and help beat the heat, keep your poise with the noise, and just relax with your fan. 


Helping you get the best night of sleep possible. Sharing what I learn through my research and testing.

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