Everyone deserves to have a good night’s sleep. For some, keeping cosy and warm is a priority when they are trying to get to sleep, but often a regular blanket or duvet simply won't do. This is where electric blankets come in. 

Electric blankets essentially work by using insulated wires contained within the fabric. When the blanket is plugged into an electricity supply, this activates the cables, which heat the fabric and your bed.

A common question we get asked about heated blankets is whether or not it is suitable to leave them on overnight. Sleeping with an electric blanket all night can lead to various risks that simply aren’t worth taking.

This comprehensive guide from Sleepseeker’s sleep experts will break down everything you need to consider before falling asleep with your heated blanket on.

Five things you need to consider before sleeping with an electric blanket

Before deciding whether you want to sleep with your electric blanket overnight, there are several considerations you need to make to ensure your safety during use.

Does the electric blanket have an auto-shutoff feature?

Most modern electric blankets have an auto-shutoff feature built into them. These internal temperature controls check how hot the blanket is, and if it gets too hot to the point of overheating, it will cut off automatically. This feature helps to reduce the risk of electric blanket fires which was more common in older electric blankets.

Does the electric blanket have a timer function?

Choosing an electric blanket with a timer function is a great way to ensure you stay comfortably warm until you drift off to sleep. You can usually choose from various lengths of time and set your blanket to turn off when it suits you; however, it is highly recommended you only use your electric blanket for up to an hour at a time. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of going to bed with a lovely and toasty warm blanket on, but you don’t need to keep it on all night or worry about waking up to turn it off.

Does the electric blanket have dual controls?

Some modern heating blankets come with dual controls so that you and a partner can use an electric blanket simultaneously but at different temperatures. Dual controls can also allow your partner to turn off the blanket for you if you fall asleep with it on, to prevent you from overheating.

What is the condition of your electric blanket?

An important consideration before you turn on your heated blanket for any length of time is, is my electric blanket safe, or is it a fire hazard? If you are using an old or second-hand electric blanket, you may not want to turn it on at all, as it could be faulty.

Suppose you don’t have a well maintained electric blanket. In that case, you might find a frayed electrical cord, exposed power lines and electric wires, or loose connections, which are all warning signs that they are not in optimal condition to be used and should be replaced with new electric blankets. Newer electric blankets shouldn’t have cosmetic damage as they are made to a higher standard; however, if any damage occurs to the blanket, you must replace it with a new one as you would with other electrical devices.

Do you think you will overheat if you use an electric blanket all night?

A significant consideration needs to be taken as to whether you are likely to overheat when using an electric blanket all night, as you may significantly increase your risk of heat stroke by overheating if you have prolonged exposure. Individuals who are young children, the elderly or immobile need to be particularly careful when leaving an electric blanket on overnight, or even using them at all. You need to consider whether electric blankets are safe for individuals like this.

Even if you think you can handle the heat of the electric blanket all night, electrical appliances are not designed to be left on for long periods. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and common sense when leaving your electric blanket on for long periods, as failure to do so could result in fire or severe damage and injury. 

Can it be bad to sleep with a heated blanket?

In rare circumstances, there may be potential health risks associated with sleeping with a heated or electric blanket for long periods of time.

Electric fires

Rarely, old, damaged or improperly used electric blankets can lead to severe fire hazards in your home. Electric blankets with a broken wire connecting to the power supply or frayed tiny wires on the inside should immediately be replaced to reduce the fire risk as you would not want to be falling asleep when a fire starts. If looked after properly, most electric blankets shouldn’t cause a fire; however, care and caution should be taken at all times.

It can affect people with underlying health conditions

It has been noted that people with diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can experience alterations in the temperature receptors in their skin, making it difficult to tell when they are too hot. This could potentially lead to overheating or burns if the use of an electric blanket is prolonged.

Likewise, if a person has diabetes, they may be discouraged from using an electric blanket by a medical professional. Diabetes sometimes comes with a complication called neuropathy or nerve damage. This can affect the ability to feel when they are overheating as their nerves don’t pick up the warning signs of being too hot as well as they could.

If you have any of these underlying illnesses, you may want to think about whether you get an electric blanket or you purchase an alternative, like a weighted blanket, which will also be able to help you fall asleep naturally.

They can sometimes affect your circadian rhythm

As much as you might want to stay warm at night, using a heating blanket might be affecting your sleep pattern. Numerous studies have shown that our core body temperature drops a few degrees as we sleep to aid us in having a full and restful night’s sleep. By altering your body’s natural abilities for quality and onset of sleep through an electric blanket, you may be more likely to have poorer sleep quality. 

Alternatives to sleeping with an electric blanket on overnight

If you’re still wanting to fall asleep with extra warmth to keep you cosy, there are alternative methods you could try.

Preheat your bed

If you don’t want to sleep with your electric blanket turned on all night, an excellent alternative is to switch it on about 30 to 60 minutes before you plan on going to bed. This makes sure the bed is warm and toasty for when you get in, and it takes the edge off on those cold, winter nights. This is a particularly great option for women during pregnancy, as it’s not recommended that electric blankets should be kept on once you’re in bed when pregnant: the additional heat can pose a risk to the unborn baby, particularly in the first trimester.

Use a hot water bottle.

It can be easier and cheaper to use a hot water bottle instead of an electric blanket. However, depending on what you’re looking to achieve from your heating device, results may vary. Not only do electric blankets heat up the whole of the bed as opposed to just one area like hot water bottles do, but the heat will continue until the blanket is switched off, unlike a hot water bottle which starts to lose heat as soon as you’ve poured the hot water into the bottle. 

On the other hand, hot water bottles are great if you have just one part of your body that you want to apply warmth to, like treating a muscle injury. But to sufficiently heat your whole bed and keep your entire body warm, electric blankets are the top choice.

Choosing the best electric blanket for you

Whether it's a double electric blanket you need or a bigger king size electric blanket, Sleepseeker has an electric blanket range to suit your needs. Choose from various heat settings, auto-shutoff for peace of mind, or even an electric blanket with dual controls for when you and your partner just can’t agree on the perfect temperature! All electric blankets sold by Sleepseeker come with a complete 2-year guarantee and have BEAB approval for your assurance.

As sleep experts, we stock a wide range of bedding to help you sleep, including duvets, pillows, pillow protectors and wellbeing bedding.

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