How to Improve Air Quality in a Poorly Ventilated Bedroom (for better sleep!)

air purifier, open window, fan

No one likes a stuffy room.

There is nothing worse than walking into your bedroom before bed only to get hit with a wall of stale air.

However, if you don’t happen to have windows in your room, if your air ventilation system malfunctioned, or if the air circulation in your house is poor in general, you may feel as though improving airflow in your room is a lost cause.

Fortunately, even with poor ventilation and no windows, there are a number of things you can do to improve airflow in your bedroom so that you can get better quality sleep.

This post outlines these quick and simple methods to get your bedroom feeling fresh and aired out in no time.

Negative effects of sleeping in a poorly ventilated bedroom

woman blowing her nose

A musty smell is not the only negative effect of a room with bad air circulation. In fact, there are many other consequences that can be quite damaging to your health over the long run.

Discomfort when trying to fall asleep

Having to fall asleep in complete discomfort due to a stuffy room is the most obvious consequence of a room with poor air circulation.

You may notice that when trying to fall asleep in this sort of environment that it can be unpleasant or even uncomfortable to breathe. Stale, heavy air is certainly not refreshing to breathe in. 

In addition, your room can easily become undesirably warm when it is poorly ventilated. Of course, falling asleep in warm temperatures is almost always uncomfortable for most people. Thick, stagnant air coupled with warm temperatures can make trying to fall asleep feel more suffocating than relaxing. 

Health effects of sleeping in a poorly ventilated room aside, the unpleasantness of actually trying to fall asleep in a space like this is reason enough to make a change.

Mold growth can trigger allergies

Little to no airflow filtering in and out of your room through windows can cause humidity to build up. In turn, stale air, high levels of humidity, and warm temperature can create a perfect environment for mold growth in your bedroom.

Sleeping in an environment where mold is festering can be terrible for your health. Mold spores are essentially mold seeds that are released into the air by the mold growth. When breathed in, these spores can trigger horrible allergies that can result in itchy, watery eyes, an irritated throat, a runny nose, and many more symptoms. Spending too much time in close proximity to mold growth can make you quite sick as well1.

For more information on how to completely allergy-proof your bedroom, check out this guide here!

Carbon dioxide levels can be dangerous to your health

CO2 buildup is one of the dangers of a closed-off room that many people don’t think about.

CO2 or Carbon Dioxide is released naturally when we exhale. In turn, when CO2 has nowhere to go but to stay in your room, the overall CO2 levels in your room will gradually increase.

Although exhaling CO2 is just part of being human, a room of abnormally high levels of CO2 can be quite damaging to your health. Various studies2 suggest that living in areas of high levels of CO2 can have adverse effects on sleep quality. High levels of CO2 in your bedroom can leave you waking up with headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Over the long run, this can be detrimental to your health.

Of course, you might think “well yeah but even with bad ventilation the CO2 level cant get to be that bad”. You might be surprised, however. One little at home CO2 test documented here found that with doors and windows closed, CO2 levels got close to 3500ppm in a room with two people in just a few hours. This level of CO2 is enough to cause nausea and headaches, which of course, is not healthy at all.

How to improve ventilation with windows in your bedroom

open windows

It’s safe to say that poor ventilation in your room can impose some serious health risks.

However, if you happen to have windows in your room, this problem is an easy fix. You simply need to open them up. Ideally, if you have a window fan or another type of fan that can fit in your window frame, you should use it to blow fresh air from outside into your room. 

That’s really all there is to it. However, most of the time, the reason why people have poor ventilation in their bedroom is that they don’t happen to have windows in the first place.  More on this to come… 

How to improve ventilation if you DO NOT have windows in your bedroom

box fan in the bedroom doorway

If you have poor ventilation in your room, chances are that you just don’t have windows in the room, to begin with. If this is the case, keeping the airflow going within your room is important. 

Keep your door and windows in other rooms of the house open

If you haven’t already propped your door open, it is critical that you do so. There is no better way to halt the little air circulation that might be happening in your closed-off room than to keep your door shut.

Not only is mold and mildew more likely to grow in a completely closed off room but the CO2 levels can easily reach unhealthy heights as well as you sleep.

That being said, keep your door propped open at all times and don’t shut it unless you absolutely need to.

Secondly, you must also make sure to keep windows open in other rooms of your house. This way your house can take in some of the fresh air from outside which can eventually drift it into your room. Although this outside air won’t be blowing directly into your room, the fresh air from outside will get a chance to eventually circulate into your room when your door is open.

Fans, Fans, Fans

Once you have your door propped open, gather all the fans you can get.

If you have box fans, these will do the best job at getting sufficient airflow going, but if you don’t have fans of this size, make use of any other fans you have.

The more fans the merrier but you can significantly improve your rooms air circulation with just two. Position the first one so that it is pointing into your room on one inner side of your doorway. Position the other so that it is on the other inner side of your open doorway so that it is angled to blow air out of your room.

diagram of fans in bedroom

With this configuration, as illustrated in the diagram above, the fans can help to efficiently remove stale air. If windows in other rooms of your house are open, this system can help to improve your bedroom’s airflow. 

Given the angle of the first fan, the fresh air from outside of your room can have a chance to circulate around your room back to where it came from. The second fan on the left can then pull this circulated air out from your room and back into the hall. This fan system creates a constant stream of airflow that continuously filters fresh air into your room and sends the old air back out.

If you happen to just have one fan, using it to blow air into your room can still make a big difference.

Additional precautions you can take to improve the air quality in a poorly ventilated room

air purifier

Leaving your door open, keeping your windows open in other rooms of your house, and strategically using fans is one of the most effective ways to ventilate a room without windows.

However, sometimes taking these measures might not be enough. You might want to take a few extra steps to ensure the freshness of the air in your room for a better nights sleep.

Use an air purifier or dehumidifier

If you don’t happen to have fans sitting around, a dehumidifier or air purifier are great substitutes.

Alternatively, if you do have fans in your room and the air in your bedroom is just particularly stale or humid, either of these two devices can help additionally.

But what do these devices accomplish?

Air purifier- Simply put, air purifiers clean your home’s air. These devices have systems of fans that pull the air of your home through filters that catch pollen, dust and other air-born contaminants. Once this “bad air” is cleaned through the filter system the cleansed air is then released back into your home.

In turn, air purifiers are excellent for freshening up some of the stale, stagnant air in your room.

Dehumidifier- As you can probably imagine, dehumidifiers remove humidity from your living space.

These machines filter humid air and extract the moisture from the air through condensation along the cooling coils inside the device. The moisture condenses on these coils much like the way moisture condenses on the side of a cold glass of water on a hot day. The moisture then drips into a collecting bucket.

Although they don’t help with air ventilation, a key benefit of dehumidifiers is they do make the air feel fresher and easier to breath given that they reduce humidity.

Keep the temperature down

If you have fans running in your room, you might not need to worry as much about keeping your room cool.

Regardless, if its the middle of summer, you might need to take the necessary precautions to keep your room cool. A warm room often feels much more stuffy than a cool one. Dust mites and mold are more likely to grow in a warm room as well.

That being said, if you have an AC system in your house, definitely use it.

Air fresheners (a nice addition)

An air freshener or essential oil diffuser won’t improve poor ventilation in your room. However, if your room still seems to have a stale and funky smell to it even with the fans running, you might want to consider using one of these devices just to freshen your room up a bit.

After all, no one wants to sleep in a musty smelling room.

Final thoughts

For health and safety reasons, it is vital that your room has good air circulation especially while you sleep.

Unfortunately, getting good air circulation in a poorly ventilated bedroom can be challenging ESPECIALLY if the room doesn’t have windows.

However, with the right tools, and a touch of ingenuity, you can start circulating fresh air into your room on autopilot in no time for the best sleep of your life.



  1. “Mold allergy: symptoms and causes.”,
  2. “The effects of air quality and sleep on next day performance.”,