I have a friend that recently saw how I sleep and told me to be careful because I sleep with a ceiling fan AND a circular fan on. Of course, I asked her why and she claimed that you can get Tinnitus from fans while sleeping. This got me thinking, can sleeping with a fan cause tinnitus? I decided to look this up and here is what I have found.
No. Sleeping with a fan does not cause tinnitus. The decibels produced by almost all consumer grade household fans are not high enough to cause any hearing damage. If you have tinnitus, sleeping with a fan on can actually help you sleep better!
If you do not already know, Tinnitus is a ringing, or buzzing, in your ears that you cannot get rid of. The causes of tinnitus can be old age, loss of the tiny sensory hairs in your ear or damage to your inner ear. This damage can be caused by either physical damage, or long exposure to loud noises.
How Sleeping With a Fan Can Help Tinnitus Sufferers
When you have tinnitus, lying down in a dark and silent room can be a nightmare. There is nothing standing between you and the constant ringing in your ears that simply will not go away when you need it to most. Having a fan, like a circular fan or box fan, can add some ambient noise in the room that will help drown out other noises and distract you from the tinnitus ringing or buzzing in your ears.
Sleeping with a fan on while sleeping gives a “white noise” effect for tinnitus sufferers. While out in the real world, our ears hear all sorts of things. We hear cars going down the street, radios playing music, other people having conversations with each other, sirens from ambulances and other emergency vehicles and even the wind when it blows. These sounds can help distract someone with tinnitus from focusing on the constant ringing and buzzing in their ears.
Do Fans Cause Hearing Loss?
No. Fans for your home will not cause hearing loss. If you bring in an industrial grade fan that is built for another purpose, and louder than your lawn-mower, will most likely cause some hearing damage. Consumer fans are not loud enough to cause hearing damage.
For a fan to cause hearing loss, it would have to be as loud as lawn-mower, or even louder. These type of fans can be used for contractors to dry water damaged, or shampooed, floors and warehouses that need to move a lot of air quickly for various reasons.
These types of fans are usually very large and obviously heavy duty, or industrial grade. If you are shopping in a big box store like Walmart or Target, I feel confident that they wouldn’t even be on the same isle with the type of fans you want for your home.
I can understand that if your home does not have any air conditioning it can be tempting to use these types of fans indoors. If you do decide to use these, make sure they are a good distance away from your ears to ensure you do not suffer any hearing damage from them. A good distance would be far enough to be able to have a conversation with someone and the sound doesn’t drown you out.
Is it Bad to Sleep with a Fan Blowing on You?
Having a fan working in your room is great, just make sure it is not pushing air into your face while you sleep!
Having a fan blowing directly in your face can cause some problems and you shouldn’t point it directly at your face while you are sleeping. Keep in mind that the fan is circulating dust and other possible allergens while you sleep, and can send these right up your nose, or in your mouth if it is open. This can cause allergic reactions, sickness and other potential health problems.
I personally like it blowing across my legs when I go to sleep, but that is a personal preference.
A fan blowing directly in your face can also dry out your sinuses leaving you feeling stuffy or dry up in there. It is not only uncomfortable, but can lead to a sinus infection if you are not careful. That can defiantly impact a good nights sleep!
If you decided that I am crazy and you will sleep with a fan however you please, then get a fan with a timer. They do sell oscillating fans with remote controls and timers so they do not stay on all night. My kids usually set the timers for an hour, while me and my better half use a 2 hour timer. We usually lay in bed and either watch some Netflix or chit-chat while we play on our phones for a few minutes before we fall asleep, so we set a time accordingly.
Benefits of Sleeping with a Fan
You do not have to have tinnitus to enjoy sleeping with a fan on! I personally have a ceiling fan and a oscillating circulating fan, that not only moves the air around in my bedroom, but also drowns out other noises in the house that helps me sleep. Noises like the dogs heading for a late night drink at the water bowl, or the cat with a bad case of the zoomies, neighbors getting in and out of cars and sirens goes pretty much unnoticed and rarely wakes me from sleep.
Harvard University has also weighed in on this issue for tinnitus sufferers:
“One of the simplest approaches is masking the noise. You can do this by listening to music or having a radio, fan, or white-noise machine going in the background. If money is no issue, you can buy devices worn like hearing aids that generate low-level white noise. Although there isn’t enough evidence from randomized trials to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of masking, hearing experts often recommend it before turning to more expensive options such as cognitive behavioral therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy, biofeedback and stress management, and transcutaneous electrical stimulation of parts of the inner ear.”
There you have it. Is it safe to sleep with a fan on? Yes, with some caveats. Just do not use a abnormally large and loud fan and do not point it directly in your face. These tips should keep you safe.