Sleeping with an electric blanket can disrupt sleep and affect health, say doctors

Should you sleep with an electric blanket?

Woman sleeping in bed underneath a navy blue electric blanket
(Image credit: Slappwijsheid / Unsplash)

Feeling the chill at night? Cuddling up and sleeping with an electric blanket might not be as safe as you think, according to doctors.

The best electric blankets are an easy and cosy way to stay warm during the winter. Heating costs have risen significantly due to the cost of living crisis so many people have looked towards electric blankets or heated throws for warmth, rather than turning up the heating.

Despite the fact that electric blankets use electricity to run, they’re more cost-effective to run for longer periods of time. Last year, the national average price of electricity went up in October to 52p per kWh. With the average electric blanket having a power rating of 100W, this equates to just over 5p per kWh, so running a 100W electric blanket should theoretically cost you around 42p a night based on 8 hours use (see how electric blankets save you money in the winter for more details).

With this in mind, it’s understandable that many people will choose to turn off their heating and use an electric blanket or heated throw to keep warm throughout the day and into the night. But should you actually sleep with an electric blanket?

According to The Spokesman Review, Dr Eve Glazier and Dr Elizabeth Ko have suggested using an electric blanket through the night could be damaging to your health and sleep patterns. The doctors noted that one of the potential risks of using electric blankets is overheating the body. For most people, this can leave you feeling sweaty and uncomfortable, but for some medical conditions, overheating poses more of a danger.

“Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, can result in neuropathy, which arises from damage to the peripheral nerves. Neuropathy causes pain, tingling, and prickling sensations, most commonly in the feet and hands… any of these symptoms can have the net effect of interfering with an individual’s sensitivity to heat, particularly while sleeping,” says Dr Glazier and Dr Ko. Using an electric blanket for multiple hours can have this effect and can even cause some people to suffer burns if they come in direct contact with it.

How to clean an electric blanket, cleaning tips

(Image credit: Cosi Home)

Another negative for using an electric blanket during the night is sleep disruptions. Many experts have found that sleeping in a cold room is better for you as your core temperature needs to drop to signal to the brain and body that it’s time to go to sleep. This lower temperature has been found to help people fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. With this in mind, Dr Glazier and Dr Ko state that “creating a continuously heated environment may interfere with the body’s nocturnal temperature cycles, thus interfering with sleep.”

Lastly, if your electric blanket is old and the wires are looking frayed or worn out, sleeping with it is not the best idea. While it’s rare for electric blankets to start fires, using one with broken wiring (both inside the blanket and connecting to power outlets) can increase the risk. Regardless of how you plan on using it, if your electric blanket is looking worse for wear, it’s time for a replacement.

Having said all that, many people love sleeping with their electric blanket and there are some options that are specifically designed to be used with your best mattress. However, experts suggest that instead of sleeping with your electric blanket, you should use it to preheat your bed. To do this, Dr Glazier and Dr Ko say to turn your electric blanket on and put it in your bed an hour before you plan on going to sleep and turn it off before getting into bed.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!