Did You Know | Health

Why So Many People Can't Fall Asleep Unless A Fan Is On

Peter Kratochvil - Public Domain Pictures / The Sleep Judge

This summer, I moved into a new apartment without air conditioning, so I spent basically every second parked in front of a fan (or two).

But when the weather turned cold recently, I didn't move my fans into storage.

That's because no matter how cold it gets, I have trouble falling asleep without my trusty Sunbeam fan pointed at the bed.

It might sound odd - unless you're one of the many people who also keep their fan running at full blast all night long, 365 nights a year.

Cool Benefits For Warm Sleepers

It turns out science can explain the appeal of having a fan on at night, but you can probably guess the benefits already.

Most people just say the cool air relaxes them, and helps them fall asleep more quickly.

In fact, our body temperature naturally drops by one to two degrees at night.

It might be possible that your body "runs hot" at night, and you need the fan to cool it down so you can get to sleep.

Others say the humming noise produced by their fan is relaxing, and experts say that's definitely true.

The reason why some people need that noise, while others don't, is linked to whether you're a light sleeper or a heavy sleeper.

Why Noise Is Actually Good For Sleep

Sleep experts say that we experience bursts of brain activity called spindles at night.

People who experience more of these bursts are better at blocking out noise during sleep, because the spindles happen in a part of the brain called the thalamus, where noise is processed.

Having more spindles each night - and getting more "deep sleep" - seems to improve the quality of REM sleep, which recharges your body and mind.

So for light sleepers who experience fewer spindles, the noise a fan makes may actually help them ignore outside noises.

That's because the sound of a fan is very similar to white noise, a noise that hits all the sound frequencies humans can hear and naturally relaxes us.

So long story short, if you tell your partner you need a fan, you're probably a light sleeper who feels more rested with the noisy machine on all night.

The Downside Of Sleeping With A Fan

If the person who shares your bed says the loud fan next to them is a deal breaker, you could always swap it out for a white noise machine, which will give some of the same benefits.

There are a few good reasons to put your fan in the crawlspace too.

Having a machine blow air into your face all night can seriously dry out your skin, and leave your eyes looking red and puffy.

If you have allergies, having dust and stale air blown into your bed can also make your symptoms worse.

But this isn't a major concern, and getting a good night's rest is one of the best things you can do for your body.

And no, those rumors that you could somehow die from sleeping with a fan on are just not true.

So doctors say if you love your bedside fan, keep using it! Just stay hydrated.

[H/T: HowStuffWorks]

Do you sleep with a fan on at night? Even during the winter?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories.