Your head is on your favorite silk pillowcase, you’re wrapped up in the best cooling bed sheets, and your white noise machine is humming. The best humidifiers for bedrooms could make drifting off even dreamier—especially if you live in a dry climate or during winter when indoor air tends to be drier, says Brian Greenberg, MD, an allergist in California. “They can help keep your throat and nasal passages hydrated, which can reduce snoring and make for a more comfortable sleep,” he says. Not to mention, a quality humidifier can help soothe dry skin, improve air quality, and even help your plant babies thrive in the winter months.
What does a humidifier do?
They release either cool mist, water vapor (warm mist), or ultrasonic frequencies that send water droplets into a space to increase moisture levels in the air, also known as humidity, says Michael Breus, PhD, a.k.a. The Sleep Doctor. “The choice between a cool mist and a warm mist humidifier primarily depends on personal preference and the specific needs of your home or health situation,” says Dr. Greenberg. “Both types effectively add moisture to the air, aiding in the relief of dry skin, congestion, allergies, and other symptoms associated with dry air.”
When should you use a humidifier?
Humidifiers are generally used in the cold season, thanks to their ability to ease dry, chapped lips, scratchy throats, and parched skin. However, some people use them to relieve discomfort caused by pollen and mold in the spring and summer, so it’s not unheard of to keep them running in warmer months or year-round, especially if you have allergies. The most popular time to use a humidifier is while you sleep at night, but there are portable (and cute!) humidifiers designed with desk spaces in mind.
“The best type of humidifier for sleep tends to be a cool-mist humidifier,” says Dr. Greenberg. “The cool mist can make breathing more comfortable, particularly if you’re dealing with congestion or respiratory issues.” And if you’re concerned about noise from the fan, look for a humidifier with ultrasonic technology—these are usually quieter and therefore less disruptive to your sleep, he explains.
Does a humidifier help with a cough or allergies?
In short: yes. Adding moisture to dry air can help ease cough or congestion, but be wary of overuse, warns the Cleveland Clinic, noting that too-high humidity levels can actually worsen allergies and asthma, and promote the growth of mold, bacteria, dust mites, and mildew. Following the maintenance instructions for your machine will help to keep it clean, ensuring it’s not emitting harmful bacteria into the air and making your health problems worse.
How close should a humidifier be to your bed?
This doesn’t matter much when you’re dealing with cool-mist humidifiers, but you should place warm-mist humidifiers (i.e., steam vaporizers) farther away from your bed for safety reasons, especially while you sleep. In kids’ rooms, avoid warm-mist humidifiers altogether. “Cool-mist humidifiers are often recommended for use in homes with children, because they don’t present the burn risk associated with warm mist humidifiers,” says Dr. Greenberg. As a nice bonus, they are also more energy-efficient, since they don’t use heat to evaporate the water, he adds.
How do you clean a humidifier?
Regardless of the type of humidifier you choose to use, it’s essential to maintain proper cleaning practices, says Dr. Greenberg. Instead of just filling the tank with tap water, “use distilled water or demineralized water to minimize mineral dust, which could potentially exacerbate allergy symptoms,” he says. And because bacteria thrive in moist environments, it’s vital to empty, rinse, and dry the reservoir daily.