Dangers Of Sleeping With A Blanket Over The Head

Different people have different sleeping habits but just because you prefer to doze in a certain way it does not mean that it is safe for you. One of the most common sleep habits entails covering up your entire body (including the head) as you slumber. For some individuals, it is just a habit, and for others, it is a way of keeping out the noise and light. But regardless of the reason behind it, the fact is that it is not always a good idea to cover your head as you sleep.

Here are some of the dangers of covering your head as you snooze.

1. It Increases The Risk Of Suffocation​

sleep with blanket over head

Covering your head as you sleep feels safe and even comfortable because you are still able to breathe well. Most individuals will even leave a small "hole" for breathing, but it is important to know that it still increases your risk of suffocation.

People with common sleep issues like sleep apnea, asthma, cardiac disease and lung issues are at more risk of suffocation when they cover their head as they sleep.

If you are intoxicated or you are sound asleep, you might not be able to take off the blanket or sheet from your face which is bad news because it increases the risk of suffocation. Also, if the sheet (or blanket) is too thick, it might not let in enough air for you to breathe as you sleep.

The risk of suffocation might be small, but many people still die each year as a result of poor sleep habits such as covering up the head.​

2. You Are More Likely To Breathe In Bacteria​

Blankets and comforters are not always easy to clean, and so most people will not wash them as often as it is required. Because of this fact they tend to accumulate dust and bacteria.

Covering up your head as you sleep in turn means that the blanket will filter the air that you breathe. And so this means that you are more likely to breathe in bacteria and dust as you sleep which can have adverse health consequences. Also, breathing in the dirty air under the blanket can trigger allergies or make them worse.

Even if the blankets or sheets are new, they are still not safe because manufacturers use chemicals in different stages of manufacturing them and the residues that they leave behind can be dangerous if you inhale them.​

3. It Can Cause Or Trigger Sleep Apnea​

sleep under blanket

Sleep apnea is a temporary pause in breathing as you sleep and many things can cause it with obesity and excessive weight being the main ones. However, there are also some contributing factors and things that can trigger it.

Covering your head as you sleep is one of these contributing factors, and so if you have the problem, you should not sleep with blanket over head. By covering your head as you snooze, you will be restricting the flow of air through the mouth and nose, and this is what will trigger the apnea. Also, covering up the head can cause insomnia or make things worse for those people that are struggling with this common sleep problem.​

4. Overheating Makes It Hard To Sleep​

The body produces a lot of heat as you sleep and covering up your entire body means that little of it will escape to the outside environment.

This warmth can be good for sleep if you live in a cold climate, but in most instances, it will become too much. And so you will end up feeling hot and sticky which makes it hard for you to sleep or make you wake up several times which results to low-quality rest.

Besides from interfering with your sleep, overheating can also have other adverse effects like swelling, dizziness, muscles cramps and in some instances also lead to more serious problems like heat exhaustion.​

5. It Can Cause Brain Damage​

Research shows that sleeping with the head beneath the covers can cause brain damage. In fact, some studies indicate that up to 23% of individuals that sleep with their head below the sheets develop dementia.

The restriction of airflow through the mouth and nose that comes from covering the head as you sleep increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s diseases and dementia significantly.

These two conditions are in most cases as a result of lack of enough oxygen to the brain (hypoxia) and so keeping your head free is a useful way of keeping them at bay. It is also vital to understand that covering your head as you sleep means that you will be re-breathing the air that you breathe out which does not contain a lot of oxygen.​

6. You Are At A Risk Of Strangulation​

sleep with blanket over head

Strangulation in sleep is one of those things that most individuals will not even think about because it is very rare. It might be rare but it can still occur, and so it is important to take precautions to prevent it.

Covering your head as you sleep increases the risk of strangulation, and this is more so if you are intoxicated. What you might not know is that strangulation does not just occur as a result of an instant blockage of your airways, but it can also be gradual.

If the blanket wraps around your neck as you sleep, you might not notice it until it is too late. People with conditions like sleep paralysis are at more risk of strangulation, and so if you have this problem, you should avoid covering the head as you snooze.​

7. Hard To Respond To Emergencies​

Pulling blankets over your head as you slumber reduces your ability to hear or smell what is around you. And so in the case of an emergency, you might not respond rapidly. In some emergency cases, a few seconds delay might be the difference between life and death and so you are at more risk with your head covered. If you have a baby, you might not hear him cry with your head covered and so you also increase his risk of SIDS.


If you are used to or prefer to sleep with your head covered it might be hard to shake off this habit but knowing the dangers above should motivate you to put in more effort. Although most people will uncover their head when they do not feel comfortable there are those individuals that cannot do it. And so the best idea is to ensure that you keep the temperature in the room at a sleep-friendly level and lying on a comfortable latex pillow and make sure that no night light or noise distracts you so as to eliminate the need to cover up your head during sleep time.​

Danger Of Sleeping With Blanket Over The Head
  • Jane
  • Updated July 21, 2018

I am Jane Collins, a Founder and a Main Editor of g9sleeptight.com. I decided to create this site to share my knowledge, guides and tips to help you to have a good night's sleep.

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