What does a humidifier do? Is it beneficial? If so, what are the benefits and risks of sleeping with a humidifier every night?
What Does a Humidifier Do?
This is a machine that disperses water into the environment and consequently moisturizing dry air. The mist may be cool or warm depending on the type of humidifier. Running a humidifier while you sleep will ease problems caused by dry air.
Cool mist vs warm mist
A cool mist humidifier will diffuse cool mist in the air. Since there is no heating risk involved in the mist production process, it is highly recommended for baby or children’s room.
It is also recommended for someone suffering from croup.
Cool mist is also great for hot environments.
The warm mist humidifier diffuses warm mist. The mist production process involves boiling the water, cooling the vapor and releasing it as warm mist. The boiling process kills off germs. However, it is important to keep this humidifier out of child’s reach to prevent burns.
Warm mist is great for cool environments and those suffering from upper respiratory tract infections
So, what are the Benefits of Sleeping with a Humidifier every night?
Now that we know what a humidifier does, let’s delve into the benefits you will derive from running it through the night.
1. Improved Sleep
As you breathe in dry air in your bedroom, your throat and sinus get dry. And that is perfect recipe for snoring menu and a disturbed sleep – for you and everyone else in close quarters. When sleeping with a humidifier every night, your respiratory tract will be moistened and thus reduce the chances of that snort!
2. Reduce Risk of Infections
That dry nose and throat also exposes you to infections. Keep the humidifier running at night during winter or dry conditions and reduces the chances of infection
3. Assist your respiratory tract perform its duties
The mucus membranes in the nose work best when moist. Dry air makes it difficult for them to catch the germs and stop them from proceeding to the lungs where they cause more damage to your health.
4. Relieve the congestion
Suffering from sinusitis, cold, flu, cough or congestion? While dry air accelerates the mucus production and keeps it thick, moist air thins out the mucus and thus makes it easier to expel. As you expel the mucus, you also expel the disease causing germs and on to the path to quicker recovery.
5. Prevent those nasty nosebleeds
Have you ever woken up to find some drops of blood on your pillow? A dry nose=dry skin and a possible nosebleed.
6. Your voice Box will sing along
Imagine that the dry air clogs the vocal cords. And by the time you are waking up in the morning, you can hardly recognize your voice. Sleeping with a humidifier every night keeps the cords hydrated and you can sing along…
7. Reduce the Heating Bill during winter
Humid air feels hotter than dry air at same temperature. This means that you can lower the heater’s settings when you run your humidifier when sleeping and thus reduce the heating bill.
8. Part of your beauty regime
The dry air also robs your skin of that much needed moisture. A dry skin will chap, flake and age faster than a moist skin. Sleep with a humidifier running and maintain that healthy supple skin.
9. Healthier Houseplants
You have placed some plants in your bedroom to help clean out some of the toxins in the air. The dry air will also steal moisture from your plants and thus affecting their health and yours too.
10. Your furniture loves it
The dry air won’t spare your furniture, doors, molding etc. They will develop cracks and break down much faster.
So what does a humidifier do to a baby?
1. Assist relieve colds, cough and congestion
Well, baby enjoys all the above benefits but the baby needs that humidifier more than you as their immunity is not fully developed. At one point or other, they catch a cold, flu, cough and get a congested throat and stuffy nose. And, they are unable to blow the nose like adults do to expel the mucus. Sleeping with a humidifier every night they are down with the cold will greatly contribute to faster healing.
This is more so given that the pediatricians say that over the counter medication is not recommended for babies below two years and they may not be effective for those below 6 years (source).
2. Good night of rest
Since the kids have more sensitive nasal passages, they react more to dry air and may end up tossing and turning and ultimately waking up/crying. Help them sleep better by running a humidifier whenever the hygrometer readings go below recommended levels.
And set them up for a playful next day!
3. The white noise effect
The noise from the humidifier mimics the whooshing noises they experienced in the womb and thus assist babies sleep better.
What are some of the sleeping with a humidifier every night risks?
Every up has a down. Let’s get down to the downside of sleeping with a humidifier every night.
1. The water tank can run dry
While you can observe the water levels get to dangerous level during the day, you won’t do so while sleeping. However, you can mitigate this risk by ensuring that you choose a room humidifier whose continuous mist production is longer than the number of hours you sleep.
Also make sure that the humidifier has an auto shut off sensor which shuts down the unit when the tank runs dry.
2. You may just get an allergy flare up
A Filter-less humidifier produces white / gray dust along with the much needed mist. This white dust is the minerals present in regular tap water. To mitigate this risk, get a humidifier that has a filter to trap those minerals. Or get a unit that accepts demineralization cartridges or simply use distilled water.
3. You may just create an environment that breeds mold, dust mites etc.
As already mentioned earlier, dry air is a health hazard, but over moisturized air is no better. It is recommended that the humidity is maintained at 30-50% (source).
Too much moisture condenses on floors, furniture, beddings, and furnishings and promotes the growth of bacteria, mold, dust mites etc. and thus negate all the positive effects of sleeping with a humidifier every night. Mold growing on furniture and furnishings in this kind of environment will certainly mean more cleaning and shorter lifespan.
To mitigate this risk, get a hygrometer to measure the humidity levels. If higher than the recommended level, do not run the humidifier. If too high, get a dehumidifier to soak up the excess moisture.
You can also get a humidifier that has a humidistat to measure and control the amount of mist dispersed given the humidity level in the environment.
What are the precautions to take when sleeping with a humidifier every night?
For best performance;
1. Keep that water and humidifier clean
Unclean water=mold and germ growth=unclean air. An unclean humidifier will also promote the mold and germs growth. Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions and keep enjoying clean healthy air.
2. Refill with demineralized and distilled water
When using a filter-less humidifier, refill with distilled water. And change the filters with the ones the manufacturer recommends when you are using a filter humidifier.
3. Place the humidifier right
Follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Some recommend that you place the unit on an elevated surface, others on a hard surface, etc. All the same keep it away from high traffic areas. And out of children’s reach.
4. Maintain the right humidity
Remember too low or too high is not good for your health. As mentioned earlier, keep it at 30-50%.
5. Let your humidifier air during the day
Clean it, dry and air the unit to prevent mold growth.
6. When going on vacation
Empty, thoroughly clean, dry and air the humidifier before storage
The final thoughts on sleeping with a humidifier every night (the benefits, risks and precautions).
From the aforementioned, you certainly are better off sleeping with a humidifier every night. However take note of the risks involved and take the necessary precautions.
Switch on your best humidifier and Have a good restful night!