If you are wondering if it’s dangerous to sleep next to a fridge, I can help you. I’ve been sleeping next to one in a small student’s dorm for 3 years now. It’s basically just a 2-second walk from my bed to the fridge. Are fridges dangerous to sleep next to because of their radiation and noise? How does it affect your sleep? And how can you manage to sleep next to a fridge without worrying from now on? Let’s find out!
The quick answer: Sleeping next to a fridge is generally not dangerous. However, a fridge can still harm your sleep. Refrigerators produce a lot of unwanted annoying noise that lowers your sleep quality. You can help yourself by using earplugs. They shut all noises down which will help you a lot falling asleep. If you worry about the radiation of a fridge disturbing your sleep quality or even damaging your brain at night: Don’t worry. The electromagnetic radiation of a fridge is too weak to harm you. I’ve even asked a high-voltage electrical engineering professor about it and he said that radiation from electric devices does not harm you. There’s no scientific research and evidence.
Let’s see which topics we cover:
- Is it dangerous to sleep next to a fridge? – Radiation and Noise
- How to sleep next to a fridge – Noise Protection
Is it dangerous to sleep next to a fridge? – Radiation and Noise
Sleeping next to a fridge does actually make you feel weird. You don’t know if it has any negative impacts on your body and sleep. Maybe the radiation is too intense and can cause brain damages… or maybe the temperature rise it produces harms your sleep. Therefore, let’s find out the effects of sleeping next to a fridge!
How does electromagnetic radiation of a fridge affect your sleep?
Fridges need a lot of power to cool your groceries. A part of the energy will radiate through your room. Luckily, I am an electrical engineering student and I’ve asked one of my professors about exactly this question: “Does radiation from household items affect us?” He smiled for a second before he moved on with his answer: “Too many people worry about too little things. The radiation is so weak, it just can’t affect you.” Trust me, if an engineering professor calls something small, it usually means it’s measured in nanoWatts (incredibly small) or picoWatts (another thousand times smaller than nano). He also mentioned that he was not able to find any trustworthy scientific evidence that proves any negative effects of electromagnetic radiation on us.
The human body does not have a system to perceive radiation. No matter how much radiation you are exposed to, your sleep will not be disturbed. At least as long as it’s just the radiation of a fridge, not the radiation of an atomic bomb test (which I believe can indeed disturb your sleep).
So, don’t worry, the radiation of a fridge is way too small to harm your sleep at night.
Sadly, this doesn’t mean a fridge does not affect your sleep at all.
How does the noise of a fridge affect your sleep?
While radiation is not a thing, noise definitely is. Ambient noise, whether it’s street traffic in large cities, aircraft noise or your fridge, does, in fact, impact your sleep, as shown by this clinical study on sleep disturbance. Although noise is not consciously perceived while you sleep, it is still processed.
And from personal experience, you can probably confirm that falling asleep in a noisy place is much harder than in a quiet one. The fridge is one of the main factors for me causing sleep problems at night (and my annoying noisy neighbors of course).
Refrigerators turn on and off to regulate temperature
Most fridges turn on and off every few minutes over and over again. This causes sleep problems because the noise you perceive at night is not a regular noise, but an interrupted noise pattern. So, every time the fridge turns back on, your body is “surprised” and wakes up a little.
For example, when I lie in my bed trying to fall asleep and I’m just drifting away and in this exact moment the fridge turns back on, I always wake up again. Then, you need to try to fall asleep again, but you’re more annoyed than before – so the chance of falling asleep decreases.
Fridges release waste heat
Fridges are able to cool down your groceries by “extracting” the heat in the inside of the fridge and pushing this waste heat outside. That’s the reason it’s always hot behind a fridge. And in many homes, the increasing temperature is the reason there’s mold behind the fridge.
The waste heat of a fridge affects your sleep. As studies (here) have shown, your sleep is greatly affected by room temperature. You will fall asleep best when it’s rather cool than warm. Having a fridge inside your room makes it more difficult for you to keep your room cool. The same applies to leaving a computer on overnight or setting a heater to high. The temperature of a fridge affects your sleep and even shifts your sleep rhythm.
Sleeping next to a fridge is dangerous
Sleeping next to a fridge is, in fact, dangerous. Not because the fridge is dangerous itself, but the lack of sleep it can produce is bad for your health. Even if you go to bed on time, your sleep quality decreases. A lack of sleep causes all of the following problems:
- increased risks of diseases (like Alzheimer’s)
- lowered concentration
- lower life-expectancy
- hell of a bad mood
You should avoid all of these problems by sleeping enough! But how can you sleep next to a fridge?
How to sleep next to a fridge – Noise Protection
After 3 years of sleeping next to a fridge, here’s my way to protect against fridge noise. It’s so incredibly simple that it does not only help you sleep next to a fridge but actually in any noisy circumstances.
What I do: Sleep with earplugs so you can’t hear any noise
Because a fridge’s noise is disturbing your sleep, all you need to do to fix your issue is to do something to block off the noise. There are two things you can do: Either you cover your fridge in sponge and cloth and desperately try to soundproof it, or you simply “soundproof yourself” by wearing earplugs at night.
Sleeping with earplugs is one of the best things you can do to help your sleep. I’ve already collected all the information you need about earplugs in my complete earplugs guide (with everything you need to know – and even more): Are Earplugs Dangerous? – The Complete Earplugs Guide.
Here’s a quick outline of the most important information about earplugs:
Earplugs are much more effective than any other fancy fall-asleep method you will come across on the internet. They will shut off all the noise so you will not hear your fridge anymore. But don’t worry, you will still be able to hear your alarm clock (as I wrote about here: Can you hear your alarm with earplugs?).
Earplugs are really cheap (take a look at the ones I suggest in the complete earplugs guide) and one package lasts a long time.
What else you can do: Change your fridge’s temperature settings
A noisy fridge is pretty annoying. Especially if it turns on and off all the time, just like the one I have in my room. One thing you can do about it is to change the fridge’s temperature settings.
A fridge that has set a very low temperature is noisier than one with higher temperature settings. The reason is, that to cool down, a fridge’s cooling system needs to turn on until the set temperature is reached. Then it turns back off and waits until it’s too warm. Then, it decides to turn back on. And so forth. The lower your temperature settings are, the more often your fridge will need to turn on the cooling system to keep the set temperature stable.
What you can do now, is to simply increase the set temperature by one or two degrees and you will already feel a difference. Your fridge will be quiet for longer periods of time.
However, pay attention to the groceries you store inside your fridge. Are they allowed to be stored at the set temperature?
I often change my fridges settings when I’m really annoyed by the noises. Luckily, I’ve found out (for my fridge) that if you wiggle the temperature knob a little, my fridge shuts up for about 10 minutes. Maybe your fridge also does.
Use a white noise machine to cover fridge noise
White noise is generally well-known for “covering” other noises. I use it all the time myself. Whenever my loud neighbor annoys me, I just turn on a ventilator. The sound of it covers the annoying-neighbor-sounds, so I don’t hear him anymore. The noise of a ventilator is an even, calm “shhhhhhhhh”-sound which is called white noise.
But for sleep, turned on ventilators are not really healthy. That’s why white noise machines were invented. It’s a small device that generates artificial white noise. It is definitely a good choice to use a white noise machine to cover other annoying sounds at night.
This white noise machine listed on amazon (with over 5,700 five stars customer rating) is the way to go if you don’t have one yet.
Is sleeping next to a fridge dangerous? – The Outline
Basically, sleeping next to a fridge is not dangerous at all. I mean, the fridge won’t punch you at night. However, it is kind of “passive dangerous”. The noise of a fridge definitely has an impact on your sleep quality.
Also, fridges heat up the room they’re in by a few degrees. And even a few degrees temperature change have an impact on our biological functions. Just like scientists are panicking about a few degrees temperature rise in the next years. Only one or two degrees rise in average temperature makes the north pole melt. The same applies to your room. Little temperature changes can have a big impact on you.
And on top of that, fridges radiate (this is the point where some people freak out). But luckily, the radiation is not significant enough to have an impact on you.
The best thing you can do about it is to protect yourself against the noise using earplugs. The second best thing (but just a short-term solution) is to change the temperature settings temporarily, so your fridge stays quiet while you try to fall asleep.
Also, white noise machines are an awesome tool to use when you want to protect yourself against fridge noise!