Is It Good To Sleep With A Humidifier? The Straight Facts

Keeping the right range of humidity is essential for both great health and sleeping well at night. Speaking of which, is it good to sleep with a humidifier?

In this article, I’ll not only answer that question but also cover a lot of really helpful info as well!

Is it good to sleep with a humidifier every night?

is it good to sleep with a humidifier image

The short answer is sleeping with a humidifier can be great for your health, when you’re sick, and provides better comfort and rest when the humidity is needed. However, you don’t want the humidity to go over a comfortable level. Not to worry – I’ll explain what that means later.

Bedroom humidifier benefits

There are some excellent reasons why using a humidifier while you’re sleeping can be very helpful:

  • Colds, flu, and congestion: a humidifier can help reduce how bad you feel and can even help you get well sooner. When you’re sick, sinuses and other parts of your body can become uncomfortably dry. A humidifier can help replace the dryness and let you sleep better, too.
  • Skin problems: people who suffer from dry, itchy skin may find using a humidifier overnight offers them relief and lets them rest.
  • Respiratory problems, allergies, and general discomfort: it’s a fact that allergy symptoms can be reduced when the humidity is at a healthy level. This also helps people with some respiratory problems as their breathing passageways are moist and less difficult to breathe through, even helping stop snoring.
  • Less likelihood of waking up with problems: if the air is comfortable and has sufficient moisture you’re less likely to wake up feeling poor or even potentially getting sick due to dry air. Dry air causes dry mucous membranes in the body and makes it easier for germs to affect you.

Is sleeping with a humidifier bad?

Not really “bad”, but you don’t want to leave a humidifier running full blast all night if it’s going to bring the humidity above a good level (around 60% and below is usually comfortable). You could end up having problems sleeping (even sweating!) and then struggling to get the rest you need.

Once the humidity is too high it’s hard to bring it back down aside from opening a window in winter or using your air conditioner.

Is it fine to close the door with a humidifier running all night?

Absolutely! In fact, humidifiers will have an easier time raising the humidity (and comfort level) in a closed room since there’s less air volume they have to work against. That’s because it takes time to replace the missing humidity in the air.

Larger spaces require even more moisture, meaning it takes a proportionately longer time according to how large the space is. The smaller the air space (for example, with a closed room) the faster it can work.

If you’re wanting to raise the humidity in larger spaces you’ll need to consider using more than one or use a higher output model.

Can you put a humidifier next to your bed?

can you put a humidifier next to your bed image

Don’t stress out about getting your humidifier placement just right. That’s because there isn’t a perfect place to put your humidifier. However, there are some general guidelines that will work for nearly everyone.

Humidifier placement tips
  • Bed: I recommend putting your humidifier several feet from your bed – a minimum of 3 feet or so is good (Sick with a cold? See the exception below).
  • Although you can use them on a floor, placing them at least 2 feet above the floor is ideal.
  • Don’t place a humidifier where it will be constantly exposed to sunlight. (Ex.: near a window)
  • Avoid placing them very close to or on top of wooden surfaces subject to moisture or water damage. A tray or other water-resistant cover underneath the unit can avoid messes or damage from mist droplets or spilled water if you’d like.
  • A non-metallic, level surface is ideal. Don’t place humidifiers on carpet or similar surfaces.
  • For best results, place humidifiers closer to the center of the room or even to one side, where ever convenient.

I don’t recommend placing a humidifier right beside your bed or other occupied areas – but not for the reasons you might think. As a matter of fact, when you’re suffering from a cold or some type of sinus congestion they can be really nice to have close by!

I’ll explain what I mean as we go.

Humidifier placement diagram

Humidifier bedroom placement diagram

Keeping your humidifier several feet from your bed on a good, flat surface above the floor that’s not harmed by water droplets or spills is best. If you’re suffering from severe congestion you might find it helpful to keep it near the bed temporarily.

As I mentioned above, a good rule of thumb is to place your humidifier several feet from your bed and other large pieces of furniture under normal conditions.

If you’re suffering from sinus problems, severe congestion, or other similar cold or flu symptoms keeping a warm mist humidifier near the bed is helpful sometimes.

That’s because warm mist products create a warm air mist in the form of steam which has a relieving effect similar to a hot, steamy shower. Heavily moist, warm air helps to open nasal and sinus passageways.

If you’re not feeling well you can directly inhale the gentle warm mist for relief (warm mist humidifiers are the best for cold weather and when you have congestion or sinus problems from being sick).

How do I know if I need a humidifier?

how do I know if I need a humidifier image

It’s actually pretty simple to know if you need a humidifier. There are two ways you can tell:

2 Ways To Check If You Need A Humidifier
  1. By recognizing the effects of low humidity (dry air) symptoms
  2. Measuring your air’s dryness using a humidity gauge

If you can tell low humidity by the signs or if your humidity gauge shows 30% or less, you need a humidifier.

Personally, I strongly recommend using a humidity gauge. But why? That’s because we can’t always rely on how our bodies feel at any given time to know the air condition. It’s not a reliable or consistent way to know.

What are the symptoms of low humidity?

Image of dry hand skin cracking due to dry air

One of the most common effects of dry air is dry skin, resulting in many different problems. As your skin loses moisture and remains in dry air it will become easier to damage, skin conditions may begin to appear, and cracking can occur.

The human body is very sensitive to humidity. Our skin needs a comfortable, healthy humidity level to get rid of moisture when we’re warm in order to be able to cool off.

Similarly, our skin and internal breathing passageways need more moisture when the humidity is too low

Dry air effects

When humidity the humidity level begins to fall very low sometimes you’ll feel colder than it actually is.

Not only that but your skin may become get flaky and itchy. Other skin problems may occur as well because when the epidermis (outer layer of skin) loses its healthy level of moisture it’s more vulnerable to problems.

Eyes can become irritated and sensitive to air or things in the air around us. People wearing contact lenses or who have eye problems may become more and more uncomfortable. Others with asthma or other types of respiratory problems can start to suffer, too.

Without a good solution, you’ll be left to temporary remedies that only address the symptoms and don’t fix the cause such as constantly applying lotion. Using a humidifier is a far better way to deal with dry air when you’re indoors.

What is a good humidity to sleep in?

recommended humidity level for comfort and humidifiers diagram

A few of the most common questions I’ve gotten are “What humidity level is best?” and also “How can I tell the humidity level in my home or room?”

Humidity is measured as a percentage on a scale of 0-100%, and relative to the air’s temperature. That’s why you’ll often hear the name “relative humidity.”

Comfortable humidity levels for most people

Generally speaking, the human body feels best with relative humidity above 30% and under 60%. However, an ideal range for humidity in your home is 40-50%. Your goal isn’t to have it perfectly at some fixed number – that’s not realistic and not necessary.

The best humidity level is the one that you find to be comfortable with and that relieves healthy and dry air symptoms for you or your family. A great rule of thumb is to aim for about 50%.

When the level begins to reach 30% and below it’s time to use your humidifier.

Severe dry air conditions begin to become obvious at about 30% and below. In dry climates and during winter the level can drop to under 20% – that’s pretty darn uncomfortable!

Do you ever suffer from allergies? Allergy symptoms decrease if the air is brought to a healthy moisture level. That’s because dry air allows allergens to move about more freely, contact your skin or other body areas, and begin causing allergy reactions all over again.

How to check humidity levels

ThermPro TP50 humidity and temperature gaugeChecking humidity is actually very simple if you’ve got the right instrument. Fortunately, these days you can check both the temperature and relative humidity at a glance with a cheap meter.

Guessing is a very error-prone way to try to figure out what’s going on in the air around you. To make matters worse, our bodies fluctuate in how they sense temperature and other conditions.

While there are a few old-fashioned methods including using mechanical devices, it’s best to use a digital humidity gauge to find out for sure. As humidity is related to temperature it’s often very helpful to see both of them.

That’s another reason these modern (and affordable – most are under $15) instruments are wonderful to have around. I own several both at work and at home. With mine I can monitor the rise and fall of temperature and humidity accurately at any time of the day or night.

Is it OK to use tap water in humidifiers?

Crane humidifier filling tank example image

Filling a humidifier tank with tap water is usually perfectly fine. However, in some cases, you need to be aware that some areas’ water can make maintenance harder. 

Yes, clean tap water is normally fine for humidifiers. As long as it doesn’t contain sediment, it’s clean and not discolored or has contaminants in it, it should be safe for both the humidifier and the air you breathe.

It’s important to be aware that different types of water like well or spring water can cause a humidifier to build up mineral deposits. Even standard tap water (“city” or faucet water) can do that too, so just because it’s tap water doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain minerals that cause build up. Bacterial growths can build up as well then you’ve got another nasty tank to deal with.

Cleaning water deposits and general maintenance

cleaning humidifier with vinegar example

Cleaning a humidifier every so often is important. Over time, minerals and other elements build up and form deposits. Bacteria can also begin to grow which can be spread into the air if left unsanitized. Vinegar and a soft scrub brush are recommended for washing both the water tank and the body.

You’ll need to periodically check and clean both the water tank and the body too. Using a very small amount of vinegar is recommended. You can also use cleaning agents that are safe for plastic or a very small amount of bleach too.

To do so, rinse both the water tank and the humidifier where with a plastic-safe cleaning liquid or white vinegar. Use a non-abrasive soft brush to clean the areas where mineral deposits are found and wash surfaces thoroughly. A soft bristle toothbrush makes a great cleaning tool as well.

Note: Manufacturers typically recommend you clean your humidifier weekly. Water supplies with high mineral levels are not recommended due to the increased build-up they cause.

I recommend standard faucet water or distilled water if that’s convenient. Remember, if bacterial build-up occurs in your humidifier due to a lack of cleaning it could enter your air so don’t ever let that happen.

Grant Williams

About the author

Grant is a professional engineer by trade and has experience with both maintenance and do-it-yourself home projects. He enjoys sharing his expertise & ideas with others to help them improve their comfort and quality of life. Read more »

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