Quick Guide to Using a Dehumidifier for Better Sleep

sleeping next to a dehumidifier

Unbeknownst to many people, there are a handful of common household appliances that can significantly improve your quality of sleep.

The dehumidifier is certainly one of them. This post discusses everything you need to know about how you can use your dehumidifier to improve your sleep experience.

You might be thinking “cant you just turn the device on and go to sleep? How hard can it be?”. It’s important to keep in mind however that using your dehumidifier at the right time and at the right settings can make the difference between good quality sleep and a poor night’s rest.

For instance, dehumidifiers are not always the best contraption to use to help you sleep better depending on the climate where you live and time of year that you are using it. Furthermore, adjusting the settings to maintain the right level of humidity can affect your sleep as well.

But before we exploring how to use your dehumidifier effectively, you may be curious to know how a dehumidifier actually can help you sleep better in the first place.

Will a dehumidifier really help me sleep better?

woman sleeping

People have been using dehumidifiers for decades for the sole purpose of getting better sleep. However, before discussing how it important to address the basics of what humidity is and how it affects sleep.

Humidity explained

In simple terms, humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air.1 On a hot and muggy summer day when the air seems so thick and heavy that your legs seem to stick to your chair, you are in a particularly humid climate. Alternatively, on a cool winter’s evening when the air feels cold and crisp, you are experiencing a low humidity environment. Humidity doesn’t always necessarily increase with the temperature but it generally does.

How humidity affects sleep 

In general, people like to sleep with relatively less humidity in the air.

Why? There are a number of reasons but in general, humidity can negatively affect your quality of comfort, breathing, and allergies.

As far as comfort goes, unless you are a swamp monster of some sort, you probably won’t feel too comfortable in a damp and musty environment. Humidity simply just does not feel comfortable and makes drifting off to sleep much less pleasant. 

Humidity also can affect your breathing. Hot weather and humidity is a double whammy that can make breathing feel more difficult when falling asleep.

Lastly, humidity can foster the growth of mold, mildew and dust mites: all of which can trigger your allergies. Everyday life with allergies can be a waking nightmare and trying to fall asleep with allergies is just as terrible.

It’s safe to say that a clammy environment is not pleasant to hang out it in, let alone try to sleep in.

How a dehumidifier can help you sleep better

In case you didn’t know, the purpose of a dehumidifier is to reduce the amount of humidity or water vapor in the air. The dehumidifying process creates an environment where the air feels relatively dry and may perhaps even feel a bit cooler as a result.

These machines are sort of similar to air conditioners. Put simply, the warm, moist air surrounding the dehumidifier enters the machine and the moves down the cooling coils. This causes the moisture in the air to condense on the coils of the machine the same way that moisture condenses on the side of a glass cold glass of lemonade in the summer’s heat. From here, the condensed water drips down and is collected in a container.

When these machines are working properly, they can suck out much of the sticky and muggy air that makes living unpleasant so that you can sleep peacefully, in an environment that feels cool and dry.  

Best humidity level for sleep

humidity control

As far as the exact humidity level goes for sleep, there is not one specific humidity level that everyone agrees is perfect. After all, some people prefer their room to be a slightly higher humidity level and some people prefer a slightly lower humidity level. 

For instance, apartmenttherapy.com2 claims that the ideal humidity level for sleeping hovers close to 45 percent, while other sources recommend specific humidity levels slightly higher or lower.

Regardless, most sources generally propose that all else being equal, a 30-50 percent humidity level is the best for sleeping.

But what exactly does 30-50 percent humidity actually feel like?

To put things in perspective, it might be easier to explain what this temperature range doesn’t feel like.

On the high end of the spectrum, New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the most humid places in America with humidity levels reaching above 80 percent3Just imagine the warm, moist and swampy climate that makes up much of the state.

Sleeping in this type of climate would be a lot like sleeping in a sauna. Not fun.

One the other hand, Las Vegas, Nevada is one of the driest places in America and is reported to have humidity levels in the low 20 percent humidity range4Just picture the desert climate of Las Vegas where the air is unpleasantly dry due to the lack of rain.

Sleeping in this type of climate can really dry out your eyes, nose, and throat leading you to wake up in a world of discomfort.

It’s safe to say that both humidity levels are quite uncomfortable. Finding the right balance between these two extremes at around 30-50 percent humidity is the sweet spot.

Fortunately, today’s dehumidifiers are advanced enough so that they can be programmed to create the ideal humidity for your room. This functionality allows you to set your dehumidifier to a certain humidity level of your preference in the ideal 30-50 percent humidity range.

Using your dehumidifier according to your climate, and time of year

condensation on window

Understanding how to use your dehumidifier given where you live is the first step to getting a better nights sleep.

The type of climate to use your dehumidifier

The type of climate you live in will determine how important it might be to use a dehumidifier at night.

A dehumidifier might make your house much more pleasant to sleep in if your climate is…

  • Hot and muggy. If you live in an area that is particularly hot and doesn’t get cool winds from off of the ocean or surrounding bodies of water, these areas can be quite humid. That means if you live in a hot area in close proximity to swampland, for instance, it can be uncomfortable to sleep
  • Constantly rainy. Areas such as Seattle, Washington where the rain just doesn’t seem to stop often have particularly humid climates as a result.

Time of year to use your dehumidifier

Humidity levels naturally tend to rise in the summer, which often makes your dehumidifier more of a necessity during this time of the year.

Keep in mind however that just because its summertime, does not necessarily mean that a dehumidifier is necessary for your area. If you happen to live in an area that is already naturally cool all year round like Alaska, there may not be that much more humidity in the summer compared to the winter. In areas like these, using a dehumidifier simply may not be necessary even in the summer.

Setting your dehumidifier up for a better night’s sleep

close up view of dehumidifier

Unboxing your dehumidifier and flipping it on may not be the most effective way to use it for a better nights sleep. There are a few precautions you can take to adjust your dehumidifier to your living space.

Adjusting the settings on your dehumidifier (tips and tricks)

Before you power up your dehumidifier before a nights rest, there are a few settings you might want to check on your dehumidifier first.

First, make sure that your dehumidifier doesn’t have any collected water in the tank and that the filter is clean. A full water tank will automatically shut off most models which of course will prevent the dehumidifier from doing its job at night. Additionally, a clogged up filter will also prevent your dehumidifier from doing its job as effectively as possible.

Secondly, it is important to keep in mind that dehumidifiers have been known to raise room temperatures by as much as five degrees Fahrenheit. Knowing this, you may want to adjust your temperature settings in your room to compensate for the potential temperature increase due to the dehumidifier.

Lastly, you must program your dehumidifier to the desired humidity level. You can set your dehumidifier to 45 percent humidity to start, and then the next night you may adjust this level up or down depending on how your first night with the dehumidifier felt. 

Where to put a dehumidifier in your bedroom for better sleep

Dehumidifiers tend to work best when there is enough space for airflow to filter through the machine.

In turn, it is recommended5 that you should place your dehumidifier twelve inches or more away from your walls or furniture. Otherwise, your walls or furniture can block the natural circulation of air flowing into your dehumidifier.

Ultimately, placing your dehumidifier in the center of your bedroom is the best place to have the device. This is the spot in the room often where your dehumidifier has the most unrestricted exposure to moist air so that it can do its job most effectively.

Keep in mind that if your dehumidifier makes a humming noise, you may want it a bit further from your bed if the noise will keep you awake

Is it safe to leave a dehumidifier on all night?

Although leaving your dehumidifier on all night is often necessary to maintain your ideal sleeping environment, people are sometimes reluctant to do so for safety reasons.

It’s understandable to think that the dehumidifier might overheat and become a fire hazard if left unattended.

However, there is really no need to fear that your dehumidifier poses any serious threat to you or your house when left on overnight.

Any reputable dehumidifiers are built following regulatory requirements to ensure that they are safe to use for long periods of time. Most models, in addition, have automatic shutoff features when they fill up with water or when they reach the desired level of humidity so that often times they won’t stay on through the entire night anyway.

Additional ways in which you can reduce humidity in your bedroom

window fan

For whatever reason, if your dehumidifier just won’t cut it, and humidity is still preventing you from getting a good nights sleep, there are a few additional quick tricks to keep the clamminess at bay.

Open the windows and run a fan

Often times the humidity inside your room and house is actually higher than the outside humidity. If this is the case, then opening your windows to let your humid air filter out can really help. However, if the humidity outside is greater than it is inside, DO NOT OPEN YOUR WINDOWS of course. You can use a humidity thermostat to check the outside humidity to know for sure if it isn’t already obvious.

Running a few fans throughout your house can also expedite the dehumidifying process. With open windows, the humid air in your house can get flushed out. 

Use desiccant

In simple terms, desiccant is a chemical substance that draws moisture out of the air.

Naturally, this material is good for reducing the humidity in your bedroom and house as a whole.

As a result, keeping a few pales of desiccant scattered around the house is a cheap and effective way to keep your living space feeling fresh and dry for a better nights sleep.

Limiting household activities that create humidity

Some of the most common household activities that create humidity include cooking inside the house, showering, and house plants. Cooking can cause steam and heat to get trapped in your house which can create a clammy microenvironment. Steam from frequent showering can also make your house more humid. Lastly, having excessive house plants can also create humidity although this is not typically a problem for most.

In turn, in order to reduce the amount of humidity in your house and to prevent the buildup of humidity in the future, you can start by being mindful of how you handle the common causes of humidity within a house. For instance, keeping the kitchen fan on when you cook or keeping the bathroom fan on when you shower can significantly reduce the humidity buildup within your house.

Final words

A dehumidifier is an excellent way to improve the conditions of your bedroom for better sleep. However, keep in mind that there are various other ways in which you can create the ideal sleeping climate such as eliminating allergens that tend to thrive in humid climates. 

You can check this guide on how to completely allergy-proof your bedroom for more info!


 

References

  1. “Humidity.” Wikipedia.com, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humidity
  2. Landis Carey. “Ideal and Healthy Humidity Levels for Sleeping.”
    apartmenttherapy.com, https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ideal-and-healthy-humidity-lev-136729
  3. Liz Osborn. “Most Humid Cities in the United States” currentresults.com, https://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/US/most-humid-cities.php
  4. Liz Osborn. “Cities With Low Humidity in the USA” currentresults.com, https://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/US/low-humidity-cities.php
  5. frigidaire-ffad3033r1-dehumidifier-owners-manual.pdfsylvane.com, https://www.sylvane.com/media/documents/products/frigidaire-ffad3033r1-dehumidifier-owners-manual.pdf