If you think you get a better night’s rest when your windows are open, you are probably right.
Sleeping with open windows can leave you feeling energized and refreshed in the morning much more so than with your windows and door shut.
But how? What exactly is it about the fresh air from outside that seems to help us sleep more soundly and make us feel more rejuvenated in the morning?
There are a few key benefits to sleeping with your windows open that can explain why doing so can result in a better night’s rest. This post aims to address these benefits.
Of course, there are also circumstances where its best to keep your windows shut at night as well, which will be discussed shortly.
Advantages of sleeping with your windows open
Opening your windows before bed is so simple, yet doing so can be extremely good for your health and sleep quality.
Preventing CO2 buildup
Although you can’t see it, CO2 buildup is quite likely when you are sleeping in a room with windows and doors shut.
Put simplistically, the oxygen we breathe converts into CO2 when we exhale. However, with closed-off doors and windows and improper ventilation, the CO2 that our bodies naturally create tends to build up in our room at night as we sleep.
High levels of CO2, however, can be extremely damaging to your health especially when you are breathing it in constantly through the night. It has been well documented that sleeping in rooms with high levels of CO2 can lead to symptoms of headaches, nausea, and dizziness. You can only feel the full effects in the morning when you wake up1.
One of the simplest ways to prevent this buildup of CO2 in your bedroom as you sleep however, is simply by keeping the windows open in your room. Open windows give CO2 a means to leave your room instead of just building up inside2.
Refreshing breeze and cool temperatures
One of the most obvious benefits of sleeping with your windows open is the heavenly evening breeze.
There is nothing quite like drifting off to sleep in a cool and refreshing setting. However, this relaxing effect of fresh air isn’t just in your head. Some scientists believe that there may be a link between cool fresh air and relaxation that allows us to go to sleep more easily.
Environmental scholar at the National Sleep Foundation Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D. told The Huffington Post that “Fresh air can have a cooling effect and we know that a cool bedroom environment is key to getting a good night’s sleep”. Dautovich adds that there fresh air and relaxation go hand and that simply put, when we feel comfortable we are more likely to feel sleepy3.
In turn, as long as the outside air is cooler than inside your room at night, keeping your window open is an excellent idea for better sleep.
Gentle white noise of the outside world
The gentle chirp of crickets or the light pitter-patter of rain outside is excellent background noise for sleep.
Although it isn’t well documented that white noise such as this can actually help you sleep better, some people swear that the soothing background noise of the outdoors helps them fall asleep more easily. Of course, you can really only experience the wonderful sounds of the wilderness by keeping your windows open.
Not every area is quiet 24 hours a day, however, in a relatively peaceful suburban or rural setting, the sound of the outdoors from your open windows can put you to sleep in no time.
Keeping humidity levels low
No one wants to sleep in a humid environment.
Bedrooms with high levels of moisture in the air feel clammy and warm making them incredibly uncomfortable to sleep in.
This humidity can build up within your home in a number of different ways. From cooking to showering, without good ventilation in your home, it’s easy for humidity level in your home to become higher than the humidity level outside.
If the humidity level in your home is higher than outside however, there are two things you can do to reduce the amount of moisture in the air: get a dehumidifier, or… you guessed it… open a window4.
With open windows, the humid air from inside will have a chance to flow outside and the dryer air from outside will be able to permeate back into your house, thus creating a relatively less humid environment in your home.
Fixing your sleep schedule
Keeping your windows open (as well as your shades) is excellent to get your natural sleep schedule back on track.
Everyone has an internal body clock so to speak, that regulates when people feel awake and sleepy throughout the day. This internal system is known as your circadian rhythm5.
Your circadian rhythm is highly sensitive to light and darkness. For humans, a natural circadian rhythm would mean waking up early in the day when the sun comes up and going to sleep not too long after the sun goes down. Trying to fight this natural circadian rhythm by trying to sleep during the day and be awake during the night can leave you feeling anywhere from disoriented to completely fatigued and depressed6.
In turn, if your internal clock needs some readjusting to its natural settings, keeping your window open is a great way to do this. Keeping your window open allows light to enter your room at the crack of dawn, which of course will prompt you to wake up. Training yourself to rise out of bed with the morning sun and going to bed at a reasonable hour will help you to get your biological clock back on track to where it should be.
When you shouldn’t you keep window open
There are many benefits to keeping your windows open when you sleep. However, there are a few scenarios where you probably would be better off keeping them shut.
High crime areas
If you are living in an area where crime runs rampant, obviously it might not be the best idea to keep your windows open at night.
By keeping your windows open in a high crime area, there is of course a heightened chance that someone could break into your house by crawling through an open window.
This scenario, of course, is more likely if you sleep on the ground floor. However, even if you are higher up, open windows at night still might not be the best idea. After all, the police sirens that tend to echo through these areas can keep you awake when your windows are open.
You are particularly allergic to pollen
If you have really bad allergies and it happens to be springtime, opening the windows at night might be the last thing you want to do.
Pollen can easily waft into your room and if you are sensitive to it, you can wake up in a world of irritation and discomfort.
However, if you absolutely must have your windows open at night, there are filters that you can use to keep the pollen at bay. The downside is that you just might not get as much airflow from your windows than if you didn’t have the filter in the way.
Pollutants in the area
Living in a heavily industrialized area is definitely not ideal if you are in need of good quality fresh air from outside.
It is no secret that breathing in heavily polluted air from outside is not good for your health. Of course, by keeping your bedroom windows open, you won’t be doing yourself any favors.
One thing you can do to treat this air is to run an air purifier as frequently as possible in your bedroom. Although this won’t completely fix the problem, it will make the air a bit more healthy to breathe in. However, depending on how polluted the air in the area is, you very well might be better off just keeping your windows shut.
Climate or time of year
Of course, depending on where you are and what season it is, keeping the window open throughout the night might not be the best idea.
For one, if you live in an area that is particularly humid, your best bet might be to keep your windows shut at night and blast the A/C instead. Otherwise, you might wake up in a swampy, sweaty mess.
On the other hand, if it is the dead of winter and 10 degrees outside, keeping your windows open will obviously cause your room to become too cold to sleep in. In this climate, keep the windows shut, otherwise, you will end up shelling out twice what you should be paying to heat your house.
Falling asleep in a peaceful rural town while listening to the sound of crickets can be quite soothing.
However, if you live in a city where the noise of the outside is a little… less… soothing, keeping your windows open might not be the best idea. No one likes to hear car horns honking and people bickering at 3 AM after all.
In turn, if you live in a more urban area where people are constantly out and about around your living space, keeping your windows shut might be your best move.
At the end of the day, as long as you don’t have a compelling reason not to keep your window open (pollution, noise ect.) it is probably to your benefit to keep your windows open at night.
Not only will you probably sleep better, but oftentimes it’s just simply better for your health to get fresh air. This is particularly true if you have poor ventilation in your bedroom, to begin with. Although you might not realize it, it can be quite damaging to spend 8 hours a day in a closed-off bedroom with no airflow.
With that in mind, sleep tight, BUT… only after cracking open that window.
- “The effects of bedroom air quality on sleep and next-day performance.” www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26452168
- “I’m living in a carbon bubble. Literally.” www.medium.com, https://medium.com/@joeljean/im-living-in-a-carbon-bubble-literally-b7c391e8ab6
- “Why we sleep better in cooler climates” www.huffpost.com, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fresh-air-helps-sleep_n_6926736
- “How to cure condensation – should you just open the windows and let the cold air in?” www.meaco.com, https://www.meaco.com/blog/how-to-cure-condensation-should-you-just-open-the-windows-rather-than-use-a-dehumidifier/
- “Circadian Rhythms.” www.nigms.nih.gov, https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx
- “Disruption Of Circadian Rhythms Affects Both Brain And Body, Mouse Study Finds.” www.sciencedaily.com, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026225744.htm