Can Sleeping with a Fan Cause Tinnitus? - | Is it Bad for Your Ears?

Can Sleeping with a Fan Cause Tinnitus?

Categories Better SleepPosted on
fan for bedroom

A friend recently saw how I sleep and told me to be careful because I sleep with a ceiling fan AND a circular fan. Of course, I asked her why, and she claimed you could get Tinnitus from fans while sleeping. This got me thinking, can sleep 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 hearing damage. If you have tinnitus, sleeping with a fan can 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 physical or prolonged exposure to loud noises. Is it wrong to sleep with a fan on? Let’s find out together.

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How Sleeping With a Fan Can Help Tinnitus Sufferers

Lying in a dark and silent room can be a nightmare when you have tinnitus. Nothing is standing between you and the constant ringing in your ears that will not go away when you need it most. Like a circular or box fan, a 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 conversing 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.  

For other options for dealing with Tinnitus, check out my other post on How to Drown Out Snoring. It works for Tinnitus sufferers too!


Do Fans Cause Hearing Loss?

No. Fans for your home will not cause hearing loss. If you bring in an industrial-grade fan built for another purpose and louder than your lawnmower, it will most likely cause some hearing damage. Consumer fans are not loud enough to cause hearing damage.

Is Sleeping With a Fan On Bad for Your Ears?

Here’s where it gets interesting, folks. The sound a fan produces typically ranges between 40 and 60 dB, depending on the model and settings. That means the noise level resembles a hushed library or a quiet suburban neighborhood. Unless you have your fan set to “jet engine mode” or you’re sleeping next to a wind tunnel, there’s no need to worry about damaging your precious eardrums.

The notion that fans harm our auditory health is a myth. While it’s true that prolonged exposure to loud noises can cause hearing damage, the noise produced by a typical household fan falls well within safe levels.

Most fans act more like a white noise machine. For those unfamiliar with the term, white noise refers to a steady, unobtrusive sound that masks other environmental noises. It helps create a soothing, cocoon-like atmosphere conducive to sleep. Fans are a popular source of white noise, as their gentle whir effectively drowns out the disruptive sounds of traffic, neighbors, or your partner’s occasional snoring (we won’t tell if you don’t).

Lytton Sleep Savings

Can a Fan Damage Your Hearing?

Can fan noise damage hear? For a fan to cause hearing loss or other hearing damage, it must be as loud as a lawnmower or even louder. For various reasons, contractors can use these fans to dry water-damaged or shampooed floors and warehouses that need to quickly move a lot of air. Imagine those giant fans you’ve seen contractors use to dry something out. These types of fans are usually very large and heavy-duty or industrial grade.

If you are shopping in a big box store like Walmart or Target, I feel confident they wouldn’t even be on the same aisle with the type of fans you want for your home. I can understand that if your home has no air conditioning, it can be tempting to use these fans indoors. If you decide to use these, ensure they are a reasonable distance away from your ears to ensure you do not suffer hearing damage.

A reasonable distance would be far enough to converse with someone, and the sound doesn’t drown you out.

Is it Bad to Sleep with a Fan Blowing on You?

A fan in your room is excellent; ensure it does not push 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.  Remember that the fan is circulating dust and other possible allergens while you sleep, and you 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 like it blowing across my legs when I sleep, but that is my preference. A fan blowing directly in your face can also dry out your sinuses, leaving you feeling stuffy or dry. It is uncomfortable and can lead to a sinus infection if you are not careful. That can impact a good night’s sleep!

Some people do not like a fan blowing in their ears all night. That’s perfectly fine! If you do not like the fan blowing in your ear all night, the background noise, wind movement, or the simple cooling effect is all one needs.

If you decide, I am crazy, and you will sleep with a fan however you please, then get a fan with a timer. They 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 I 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.    

sleeping with a fan

Benefits of Sleeping with a Fan

You do not have to have tinnitus to enjoy sleeping with a fan on! I have a ceiling fan and an 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, the cat with a bad case of the Zoomies, neighbors getting in and out of cars, and sirens go pretty much unnoticed and rarely wake me from sleep.

Harvard University has also examined 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 in the background. If money is no issue, you can buy devices 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. Do not use an abnormally large and loud fan; do not point it directly in your face. These tips should keep you safe. If you are looking for a new fan to sleep with that doesn’t sound like a jet engine when you sleep, check out some of my recommendations from Amazon below.

Sleeping with a fan on can be an enjoyable and therapeutic experience!

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Side Effects of Sleeping with a Fan on You

Is Sleeping With a Fan On Bad for You?

Is sleeping with a fan on bad for your ears?

Many myths and misconceptions surround the habit of sleeping with a fan, yet upon scientific evaluation, these concerns broadly fall away.

Sleeping with a fan can have several benefits, contrary to common misconceptions. Additionally, the constant air circulation provided by a fan can help improve room air quality by preventing air stagnation and reducing the likelihood of allergens and dust mites. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with allergies or respiratory conditions.

Of course, it’s essential to balance these benefits against potential drawbacks. Fans can cause dryness in the skin and eyes, but this can be mitigated by correctly positioning the fan and ensuring you stay hydrated. Moreover, fans should be kept clean to prevent the distribution of dust.

Contrary to popular belief, fans do not cause stiffness or colds; viruses, not cold air, cause these ailments. And while the chill of a fan might make an existing muscular issue feel worse, it doesn’t cause the problem.

Fans come with a mixed bag of pros and cons:

Fan Pros

  1. They provide cool, refreshing air.
  2. They can create white noise that helps lull some people to sleep.
  3. They aid in ventilation, a lifesaver on those stuffy nights.

Fan Cons

  1. They can potentially dry out your eyes.
  2. They might disrupt your sleep with their constant whirring.
  3. They may inadvertently circulate dust and allergens around your room.

Now, I’m not here to rain on your breezy parade, but the fan is not without its flaws. Ever wake up with your eyes feeling drier than a desert? Well, it could be your fan playing the desert wind.

Fan Noise: A Lullaby or a Nightmare?

Even the fan’s noise isn’t a straightforward deal. Let’s break it down:

Fan Noise Pros

  1. The fan’s consistent hum can be a soothing white noise for some.
  2. It can mask other potentially disruptive noises.

Fan Noise Cons

  1. The constant whirring can be an auditory annoyance that disrupts sleep.
  2. The fan’s unpredictable stops and starts can be a jarring disturbance in the dead of night.

So while some of you may find the fan’s gentle hum a lullaby that lulls you to sleep, for others, it’s an unwelcome concert playing all through the night.

Could Your Fan Be Stirring Up Trouble?

It’s not just about the breeze and the noise. Your fan could be spinning up some other issues too:

Fan Actions

  1. It moves air around, helping maintain a comfortable temperature in the room.
  2. However, it might also be circulating dust and allergens in doing so.
  3. The constant flow of air can also cause a drying effect on the skin and throat.

So, that refreshing breeze might come with a side serving of dust, pollen, and a dry throat. For those with allergies, it could spell a sneezy, sniffly morning.

The takeaway is that sleeping with a fan on isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. What might be a dream come true for some could be a nightmare for others. So, consider your fan habits carefully. Remember, every good night’s sleep is a personal journey, fans or no fans. Sweet dreams!

Is Sleeping with a Fan Bad for Your Hearing?

Yes and no. More than likely, in your case, no. If you are using fans designed for home use, odds are, you are not purchasing a fan anywhere near loud enough to do any real damage to your ears. Can fan noise damage hear? It’s doubtful that any fan you purchase from a retail store would produce decibels loud enough to do any hearing damage at a reasonable distance.

Also, even if you DO have a loud fan, odds are you don’t have it close enough to your ears to cause any damage.

Check out our post on the Best Fans for Your Bedroom and pick your new favorite fan!

Happy Sleeping!  


Of all of my hobbies and passions, I love sleep the most! Most people treat sleep as just something you do, but if you make some positive changes in your routine, you can have the a great nights sleep. A great nights sleep will change your life!

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