Is it OK to sleep with a space heater on?

Ted Curley
Journeymen wiremen at US Electric-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Hello, I'm Ted Curley, a licensed electrician with a wealth of experience in the electrical field. I've recently joined this platform as a contributor to share my extensive knowledge and insights with you. My journey in the electrical field spans over a decade, during which I have cultivated a deep...Read more

They say a good night’s sleep is essential for a productive day ahead. But what if your quest for warmth and comfort during the long, cold nights could compromise your safety? This is a question that often plagues many sleep-deprived individuals who find themselves relying on space heaters to combat the biting chill. In this article, we will explore the safety of sleeping with a space heater on, aiming to shed light on the potential risks and provide you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your nightly routine.

As the cold weather settles in, it’s only natural to seek solace in the warmth of a space heater. However, before cozying up and drifting off into dreamland, it is crucial to understand the implications of such a choice. In this insightful article, we will delve into the world of space heaters, examining the potential hazards they present while you sleep. By addressing common concerns and providing expert advice, we aim to arm you with the information necessary to prioritize both your comfort and safety. So, let’s embark on this journey together and uncover the truth behind the safety of sleeping with a space heater on.

The Safety of Sleeping with a Space Heater On

Understanding Space Heaters

Before delving into the safety aspects, it is important to understand what space heaters are and how they work. Space heaters are portable devices that are designed to provide localized heat in a specific area. They are typically powered by electricity or a fuel source like propane or natural gas. Space heaters work by converting electrical energy or fuel into heat energy, which is then released into the surrounding space.

Types of Space Heaters

There are various types of space heaters available in the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common types for indoor use include:

Electric heaters are generally the safest option for indoor use, as they do not produce any emissions and have built-in safety features.

Factors to Consider

Before deciding to sleep with a space heater on, it is crucial to take several factors into consideration. First, evaluate the size of the room you will be heating. It is important to choose a heater that has the appropriate heating capacity for the space. Second, make sure to consider the energy consumption and operating costs of the heater, as this can greatly impact your electricity bill.

Safety Measures

To ensure a safe sleeping environment, it is essential to take appropriate safety measures when using a space heater. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines. Some general safety tips include keeping the heater at least three feet away from any combustible materials, placing it on a stable surface, and never leaving it unattended. Additionally, it is important to have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms in your home.

1. Potential Hazards

While space heaters can provide warmth and comfort, it is crucial to be aware of the potential hazards they can pose. Some of the main hazards associated with using space heaters include carbon monoxide poisoning, fire hazards, electric shock, burns, and overheating. Let’s discuss each of these hazards in detail.

2. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

One of the most dangerous risks of sleeping with a space heater on is carbon monoxide poisoning. Fuel-powered space heaters, such as those using propane or natural gas, can produce carbon monoxide – a colorless and odorless gas that can be deadly in high concentrations. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, it is imperative to only use fuel-powered heaters in well-ventilated areas and have a carbon monoxide detector installed.

3. Fire Hazards

Another significant concern when using a space heater is the potential for fires. Electrical malfunctions, improper use, or placement of the heater near flammable materials can all contribute to fire hazards. To minimize the risk of fires, it is important to keep the heater away from curtains, furniture, bedding, and other combustible materials. Never leave the space heater unattended, especially while sleeping.

4. Electric Shock

Electric shock is another safety hazard associated with using space heaters. To prevent electric shock, avoid plugging the heater into an overloaded circuit and ensure that the cord is in good condition. Regularly inspect the cord for any signs of fraying or damage. Additionally, never touch the heater with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface.

5. Burns and Overheating

Space heaters can also cause burns if touched directly, especially by children or pets. To prevent burns, choose a heater with a cool-touch exterior and keep it out of reach of children and pets. Overheating can also occur when a space heater is left running for extended periods. Overheating can lead to the risk of fires and increase the likelihood of burns. It is important to select a heater with overheating protection and use it responsibly.

Precautions for Safer Sleeping

When deciding to sleep with a space heater on, taking additional precautions can significantly enhance safety. Firstly, always ensure that the heater is turned off or set to a low heat setting before falling asleep. It is also recommended to avoid using a space heater in a room where you will be leaving doors or windows open, as this can lead to energy inefficiency and potential safety risks.

Choosing the Right Space Heater

Selecting the right space heater is crucial to ensure both comfort and safety during sleep. Electric heaters are generally considered the safest option for indoor use. Look for options that have safety features such as tip-over protection and automatic shut-off timers. Additionally, consider the size and wattage of the heater to ensure it is appropriate for the space you intend to heat.

Positioning the Space Heater

The proper positioning of the space heater is key to avoid potential hazards. It should be placed on a flat, stable surface, ideally on the floor, to prevent tipping over. Ensure that the heater is at least three feet away from any flammable materials such as curtains, furniture, or bedding. Also, avoid placing the heater near high-traffic areas or where it can be easily knocked over.

Monitoring the Environment

It is essential to monitor the environment when sleeping with a space heater on. Keep the room adequately ventilated to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide and avoid stuffiness. If you start to feel any discomfort, dizziness, or unusual symptoms, turn the space heater off immediately and open a window to let fresh air in. Always prioritize your comfort and safety.

Keeping the Sleeping Area Clear

Before going to bed, ensure that the area around your sleeping space is clear and free from any potential obstructions. Keep bedding, pillows, and other flammable materials away from the heater. Clear the floor of any cords, rugs, or clutter that may pose tripping hazards or interfere with the heater’s operation.

Using a Timer or Thermostat

To enhance both comfort and safety, consider using a timer or thermostat with your space heater. These features enable you to set specific temperatures or determine the duration the heater will run. By utilizing such functions, you can avoid unnecessary overheating, save energy, and minimize the risks associated with running the heater unattended while you sleep.

Regular Maintenance

Proper maintenance of your space heater is vital for its safe and efficient operation. Regularly clean the heater, following the manufacturer’s instructions, to remove any dust or debris that may accumulate over time. Inspect the cord, plugs, and electrical connections for any signs of damage, and promptly repair or replace any faulty parts.


Sleeping with a space heater on can be a comfortable and cozy experience if proper safety measures are taken. It is crucial to understand the potential hazards associated with space heater use, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, fire hazards, electric shock, burns, and overheating. By following safety guidelines, selecting the right heater, positioning it correctly, monitoring the environment, and taking other necessary precautions, you can sleep peacefully and safely with a space heater. Remember, comfort should never compromise safety when it comes to creating a warm and inviting sleeping space.

Ted CurleyJourneymen wiremen at US Electric-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Hello, I'm Ted Curley, a licensed electrician with a wealth of experience in the electrical field. I've recently joined this platform as a contributor to share my extensive knowledge and insights with you. My journey in the electrical field spans over a decade, during which I have cultivated a deep understanding and expertise in various roles. Let me take you through my journey and my passion for electricity and space heaters.

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