Benefits and Risks of Using a Humidifier While Sleeping

It is well established that humidifiers can assist with problems that you encounter with sleep latency, sleep efficiency and feeling fresh when you awake from sleep in the morning.

The major benefit of using a humidifier while sleeping is that it will effectively make a positive contribution to your overall health, primarily because it would have helped you sleep better at night. However, when there are benefits you will also encounter some risks.

We will look at the benefits of using a humidifier but first I want to point out possible risks at greater length, which we hope will help you weigh the positives and negatives that come with the territory when purchasing and using a humidifier.

Sleeping with A Humidifier (The Risks)

Doctors at the Children Hospital Colorado have advised people to err on the side of caution when using humidifiers, as they have established that there are certain risks associated with the product.

Most of those risks present themselves in communities where the use of a humidifier is very common, especially among the poor and working class. As we all know, the poor and working-class have little choice but to purchase products that are at the lower end of the market and goods that are generally energy-efficient. Have any of you seen electricity bills these days?

Under these circumstances, reference is often made to what the experts call an ultrasonic humidifier. Among its more defining features is that it is relatively cheap and that it does not consume a significant amount of energy.

The clue to the dangers presented by this specific type of humidifier lies in the fact that it converts all of its water into mist. Doctors have expressed what they feel are legitimate concerns about the contents of the water that is converted into a mist.

Things like bacteria, certain minerals, chemicals, and mold tend to factor into the equation here.

Traces of all that toxic stuff will probably be found in the mist at some point, although quantity does tend to matter when we have these conversations. It is that mist which we take into our lungs the whole time that humidifier is on. It is not like we stop breathing when we put that humidifier on, right?

It has been established by the Colorado doctors in question that – on at least one occasion – a patient recorded chronic lung disease symptoms because of the humidifier that she was using in her home.

Just to be clear though. Most of the water that we consume has dodgy minerals in it, even the generally overpriced stuff that we purchase in the shops. There is no way of working around that. It is a reality that the human body has been forced to accept.

However, when those minerals are merely in the water it is not actually a train smash, because those minerals are just suspended in the water in those circumstances.

Your lungs are not at risk under those circumstances.

The experts will point out that the dangers manifest themselves when those minerals are then found in the air (mist). Whether that be in your home or your room. That exposes your lungs and generally puts your health in jeopardy. Not to mention the impact it will likely have on your sleep.

That matter potentially becomes even more catastrophic when you sleep with that humidifier on.

The other complication is that the natural response when cleaning a product like this is to use chemicals when cleaning. All of those chemicals will be found in the humidifier too when you switch it on for use again. Again, quantity probably matters.

There is a common bougie practice of putting essential oils and vapor rub into a humidifier.

Most people probably do get away with it. However, the risks posed by it are real and the doctors at Colorado are all too aware of them.

Can Sleeping with a Humidifier Make You Sick?

We can not overstate just how dangerous a humidifier can be if you do not exercise extreme caution when either using or cleaning it. There is a humidifier sterilizer in South Korea, which is currently being subjected to intense scrutiny by the local judiciary.

At the heart of the issue is the death of more than 100 people who were exposed to it for extended periods. All of them are reported to have encountered respiratory issues. Just earlier in this blog post, we tapped on the small matter of chemicals that are left in the humidifier when you are cleaning it.

There is no story in the world right now, which is more relevant to this topic than the one unfolding in South Korea.

As of July this year, 34 people were indicted in a South Korean court for the role they are accused of playing in the manufacturing and selling process for the humidifier sterilizer.

It is a serious business.

The prosecutors, in this case, believe they have a strong argument after a study they conducted revealed that the chemicals used to clean humidifiers were highly toxic.

Just to be clear. We are not suggesting that all the companies selling cleaning chemicals around the world have the same level of toxicity in their products but we are highlighting just how easily something as seemingly innocuous as a humidifier can become a deadly device if you are not careful.

This is no longer just a matter of chronic lung and respiratory diseases. It has now become a matter of life and death.

Can sleeping with a humidifier on make you sick? – Definitely

Could sleeping with a humidifier on kill you? – Absolutely

For those of you are now terrified by the prospect of cleaning your humidifiers, there is compelling evidence to suggest that not cleaning them could be even worse for your health. Had I not started this segment off with the South Korean story, this would have been the logical conclusion to make.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic help expand on the health risks associated with humidifiers.

Given the points we have already made about the lungs and breathing, it is probably worth noting that a consultation with the doctor should be on the cards if you are somebody currently grappling with asthma or any allergies that are associated with the respiratory system.

Be as sure as you can possibly be that the humidifier is worth your trouble. You need to sit down with a doctor and weigh the pros and cons of using one in general but particularly when you sleep.

Now, there are obviously massive benefits to having a humidifier on when you sleep, or just having one – and we will tap on them later – but you need to be sure that those benefits outweigh the negatives. Herein lies the rub.

humidifier-while-sleeping
This humidifier is one of the best in Amazon.com. Click on image to see the price.

Is It Safe to Leave a Humidifier on All Night?

Before we thrash this one out, the point does probably need to be made that you should only be using a humidifier when the situation absolutely demands it.

The basic principle needs to be that if the local conditions do not warrant the purchase of a humidifier, just do not purchase one.

You will save some money, among other things.

As a follow-up to that, it will also be prudent for you to take certain precautions that will limit the prospects of you being adversely affected by the presence of a humidifier in your home.

It would be foolish of us to explore this matter of safety when leaving a humidifier on all night if you have not observed the basic recommended precautions – as spelled out by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Cleaning of the Humidifier

The first piece of advice that they offer is that you should clean your humidifier every third day.

Beyond just using a brush or scrubber to clean it, you need to make doubly sure that you are removing the scales and deposits left on the inside of the tank. They are ultimately where most of the dangers lie.

Also, it would be wise to make sure that you have wiped every inch of those surfaces dry when you are done.

Humidifiers Liquid Contents

Depending on what the actual product advice is for the range of products available, it is also loosely advised that you empty the humidifier tank and refill the water daily. That way you are reducing the risk of dodgy organisms growing and invading your tank.

Also, it is those very organisms that are likely to create problems for you when they are out of the tank and circulating in the humidifier air. The South Korea case is a glaring reminder of how pear-shaped can go if not handled thoroughly.

We also tapped on the mineral content in water earlier and the potential dangers that can pose for those who use a humidifier regularly. It is not always possible but if you can, try and use water with as low a mineral content as possible.

Remember us writing about those scales and deposits in the tank? Well…we are also trying to limit that as much as is possible.

Storage of Unused Humidifier

It is also important to note that you will not be using the humidifier the whole year or during all seasons. There will come a time when you are not using it frequently or have packed it away altogether.

Always try and look for directions on how to clean the product under these circumstances and more information on how to store it during the off-season – for the want of a better term.

You also need to be relatively knowledgeable on how to clean the device again after you drag it out of storage and prepare for the new humidifying season.

Humidity Gauge

Humidifying the room is one thing but be wary of any form of excess. The experts will likely tell you that humidity exceeding 50 percent is something that we would refer to as zoning in on danger levels.

Remember those organisms that we do not want to grow in those tanks? Well by keeping humidity below 50 percent we are also limiting the prospects of those growing and breeding like rabbits.

Do yourself a favor and find some form of equipment that will help you keep closely informed of the humidity levels in your home or room. The gauge I use you can see here at Amazon.

We also know that the whole point of a humidifier is to improve the moisture levels in the air.

Humidity Gauge Product Image
Click on image to see the price on Amazon.com

However, it is not in your best interest to keep the areas around the humidifier damp or wet. Remember how much we have gone on about the growth of dodgy organisms in your humidifier.

We haven’t really explored the different kinds of humidifiers in this blog post – although we probably should at some point – for issues of safety we are particularly interested in advising you on the use of a steam vaporizer.

We all know what steam or boiling water can do to a human. It burns and the people often faced with the greatest risk under these circumstances are the children in the house.

So, do everybody a favor and keep the steam vaporizer out of reach from children, especially if you are going to leave a humidifier on all night.

This response has been a long-winded one – and not necessarily with a good reason either.

Is it safe to leave a humidifier on all night? – The answer to that question is a glaring yes. You can leave your humidifier on all night and all day for that matter.

However, it will be in the best interests of you and your family to follow all of the precautions that have been set out both on this blog post and on the labels of instructions written out on the product boxes, after you have purchased the humidifier.

There is always a risk associated with this kind of thing but your job is to limit that risk, after carefully weighing up the pros and cons.

Do Humidifiers Help You Sleep Better?

There is absolutely no doubt that humidifiers help you sleep better. The product itself would not be so popular if that were not the case. We all already know that cold air holds less moisture than warm air.

Under those circumstances, viruses tend to go for blood, especially if you are already ill. That is because your nostrils and throat are normally dry when the air is cold. That is where the conventional humidifier comes in.

The increased humidity of the room, as a result of the humidifier, will help mitigate the impact of the cool and normally dry air.

Respiratory problems normally manifest themselves most at night and when you plan to sleep. Mitigating those problems is already a win for your sleep aspirations in cool conditions.

We will not expand on this too much but it is also worth noting that you do not need to purchase an actual humidifier if you understand the logic behind having one.

When the water inside the humidifier evaporates, you essentially humidify the room during cool and dry conditions.

That same objective can be achieved if and when you put water into a shallow bowl and leave it out somewhere in the house or building.

It would be most prudent to put that water somewhere near a heat source in that room. That heat source will achieve the same results as a humidifier, which is to evaporate the air and create a more humid environment in the room.

It also makes total sense to leave that out when you head to sleep.

Ultrasonic Humidifier Helps You Sleep Better

We have already mentioned that the ultrasonic humidifier is relatively cheap and that it uses less energy than most of the other products.

However, what we did not dwell on that much was that it is also generally much quieter than the other branded products on that market. In short, the ultrasonic humidifier pulverizes water into a fine mist and it does that with high-frequency vibration.

Logic will tell you that a quieter humidifier is even less likely to rattle you if and when you choose to sleep. So, if you are somebody who has been battling to sleep purely because of noise, the ultrasonic humidifier should be your new best friend.

However, this extends beyond that. If you are somebody who grapples a considerable amount with snoring, then this product is also for you. Do not underestimate the impact that snoring can have on what you had hoped will be a good night sleep.

If you are somebody who has issues with bloody noses, the ultrasonic humidifier will definitely assist you to negotiate those difficulties when you are sleeping.

There is nothing more traumatic than going to sleep and waking up because your throat is hurting – for whatever reason.

The most common cause of your throat problems is something called allergic rhinitis, better known to most as hay fever.

To add to my long history with sleep problems I encounter this every single spring, without fail.

The extent of the coughing you experience while trying to sleep, when you have allergic rhinitis, will make you want to give up on life. It is never-ending, it is extremely painful and most significantly it deprives you of sleep.

There are treatments you can get for it over the counter. However, pharmaceuticals are never cheap and you have to purchase the treatments every time you encounter the illness. You can avoid all of that hassle by just purchasing an ultrasonic humidifier once off, as it will definitely help you negotiate that difficult period.

The same would apply to any other respiratory issues that you are likely to encounter. At the heart of it all is to try and stay refreshed during the night. More significantly, you want to stay hydrated throughout the course of the night. Both of those facets assist with recording efficient sleep.

In addition to this, an ultrasonic humidifier assists with the easing of general cold and flu symptoms, all of which are most likely to have an adverse impact on the quality of the sleep that you record – both in the short and long-term.

All of this especially applies to people who live in particularly drier climates.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the feeling of waking up refreshed after a good night of sleep is an element that far too many people take for granted.

The humidifier options are actually plentiful. Here at Amazon, you will see all the best sellers and product reviews from those who have purchased humidifiers.

Humidifier While Sleeping

How Close Should You Sleep to a Humidifier?

Given what we have discussed earlier in this blog post, about some of the risks and dangers posed by humidifiers, it is somewhat alarming that there is so little information on where a humidifier should actually be placed in your home or in your bedroom.

This site (A Fresher Home) has a lot of useful information on that. Among the key things that he mentions is that you should place the humidifier at least three feet away from your bed. That seems like a logical step to take, especially when you are asleep.

He also recommends that you place your humidifier about two feet above the floor, while also conceding that there is actually no genuine harm in placing the humidifier on the floor itself.

When all is said and done, you are most likely to and probably should end up placing your humidifier somewhere close to the center of the room, regardless of where that is in the home.

The same principle would also apply for use in the bedroom.

Final Thoughts – Benefits and Risks of Using a Humidifier While Sleeping

My conclusion – as a humidifier user – and after careful research into the benefits and risks of using a humidifier while sleeping are these:-

  • Purchase a quality product
  • As with any electrical device following the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Follow safety and cleaning instructions
  • Careful placement of humidifiers is required
  • Keep a close eye on the device as it ages – if you feel you shouldn’t use it – don’t – purchase a new unit

The overall cost for these devices is relatively low – if in doubt replace it and stay safe…

As always here’s to better sleep!


Related Article

Care should always be observed when using products while sleeping electrical or otherwise. I have an in-depth article which covers candles and their safety, see that here…

sleeping with a humidifier

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It's me, Michelle. The person behind this blog 🙂

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