COVID-19 created quite a scare and for those of us who stayed in most of the time, a mask was our sole protector to head outdoors. Being inside the comfort of our home makes us feel safe. But what if you have COVID? Should you wear a mask while sleeping with COVID?
A mask does not need to be worn when sleeping with COVID, unless a medical professional deems otherwise. If you are residing in a shared space, or are in hospital with coronavirus, you may be asked to wear a mask. But when you are sleeping, it is recommended to not wear a mask while sick with COVID.
There are many more questions to answer about sleeping with masks on below!
Can you sleep with a mask on with COVID?
You can sleep with a mask on while sick with COVID, but it is not typically recommended. COVID can impact our ability to breathe properly and wearing a mask at night can increase this difficulty. When you are sick with COVID, you should be isolating yourself from others as much as possible. If this is the case, and you are in your own enclosed space, you don’t have to wear a mask. This includes when sleeping with COVID.
There are some health concerns about sleeping in masks. Medical professionals have not confirmed or denied whether wearing a mask while sleeping with COVID is beneficial. However, there may be times when they recommend sleeping with a mask on to protect those around you. These situations often refer to being in a hospital, in which wearing a mask while sleeping can stop the virus from spreading to other vulnerable people. In these instances, it can be better to wear a mask when sleeping with COVID, but this shouldn’t be something you do regularly. For the most part, you should be able to isolate yourself in your own space and sleep without a mask, even when sick with COVID. If you do wear a mask while sleeping with COVID, try more lightweight masks such as level 2 surgical masks.
Can you wear a surgical mask while sleeping?
You can wear a surgical mask while sleeping to protect yourself from airborne diseases. Surgical masks are much lighter than many other facemasks which can make them more comfortable for sleeping in. They also have high protection ratings, considering they are designed for use in hospitals. Surgeons wear these masks for hours on end when performing surgeries. With this being the case, there is no doubt that you can also wear a surgical mask while sleeping.
What happens if you sleep with a face mask on?
Sleeping with a face mask on can be uncomfortable and more restrictive of your airflow overnight. Face masks are designed to stop you from spreading viral germs, such as COVID. This is why they are sometimes asked to be worn overnight. But you shouldn’t do this for multiple nights in a row because there are a few dangers associated with sleeping with face masks on. This is especially the case if you are experiencing severe coughing or breathing problems.
Side effects of sleeping with masks on include:
Lowered immune system
The extensive wearing of masks overnight lowers oxygen levels. This can hamper certain areas of your immune system as a lack of oxygen limits its ability to fight infections. This is why, if you are far away from crowds, for example in your own room, sleeping in a mask is not necessary.
Sleeping in face masks can make it harder to breathe, especially for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is a group of diseases that cause blockages, limiting airflow through the body which leads to breathing problems. If this is a concern for you, it is recommended to not sleep with a mask on.
Irritation can occur
If you wear a face mask while sleeping, you are likely to experience irritation on your face and around your ears. The fabric of face masks can be quite itchy, causing dry and irritated skin to occur. It is recommended to moisturize before wearing a face mask to reduce this. But wearing a mask overnight can result in lots of turning in your sleep. This movement will cause the face mask to rub on your face much more and increase the irritation on your skin. If you do need to wear a mask while sleeping, a gentle reusable cloth mask is a good one to reduce irritation.
When is it okay to sleep in a mask?
When you are home and a loved one has contracted the virus then perhaps you may sleep in your mask. Studies have shown that the virus transmits much faster during the cold season. If temperatures are shiveringly low and you have no interest in sleeping with covers over your head, wearing a mask can work. Wearing a mask to bed can help keep your nose warm and protect you from the virus.
It is also okay to sleep in a mask if you’ve contracted a cold. People who catch a cold and have a stuffy nose breathe through their mouths. Breathing the harsh breeze causes your lips and mouth to become dry even shortly after moisturizing. This can cause soreness in your throat and prolong your period of illness. Wearing a mask to bed during covid can stop the moisture from leaving your body.
With all of this being said, we don’t recommend regularly sleeping with a mask on. Even when you have COVID, sleeping with a mask on can have more negative effects than positive. This does include getting sore ears from mask wearing. So, unless a medical professional requests it, you are better to not wear a mask while sleeping.
Is it safe to sleep with N95 mask on?
It is safe to sleep with an N95 mask on as it doesn’t reduce the air intake of the wearer while sleeping. An N95 mask can protect you if you are sleeping in a more public space. The filter will prevent multiple diseases that might be in the air from entering your airways and potentially making you sick. N95 masks are also lighter than other masks such as reusable cloth masks, which make them easier to sleep in. However, wearing an N95 face mask does decrease the quality of sleep. This happens when any face mask is worn to bed. Studies have shown that the numbers of times you wake up or almost wake up during the night increase when you have a face mask on. With that being said, wearing an N95 mask to sleep is still safe and can protect you from surrounding germs and diseases.
Do you have to sleep with a face mask on in hospital?
If you are sharing a hospital room with other patients, you are likely to be asked to wear a face mask to sleep. This might change from a face mask to an oxygen mask if those in the room are sick with COVID. Wearing a mask to sleep in a hospital is a safety precaution for yourself, patients and medical professionals. With such vulnerable people inside the hospital walls, it is important to promote safety constantly. Wearing a face mask to sleep can be a requirement as directed by the hospital to continue to maintain the safety and cleanliness of the hospital environment.
There are times where you may not have to sleep with a face mask on in hospital. This includes if you are in a room by yourself. When you aren’t sharing a room with another patient, you aren’t putting each other at risk as much. This is when you could potentially sleep without a face mask on in hospital. If you aren’t sick with COVID and are in a completely separate hospital wing to COVID patients, you also may not need to wear a mask while sleeping.
Tips for a good sleep while napping with a mask on
If you are in a position where you need to nap with a face mask on, you should get as comfy as possible for a good sleep. You can start by preparing yourself as if you are getting ready for bed. You can apply some deodorant, brush your teeth (or chew some gum), and have some water. By helping yourself feel a bit fresher, you won’t feel as overwhelmed by smell when you try to nap with a mask on.
You should find a spot to nap that isn’t too overcrowded with people and objects. Somewhere that isn’t messy or smelly. If the space you try to nap in has lots of objects, sounds, and smells, you won’t be able to relax. Having a mask on while napping is already an extra barrier that will take your attention. To actually get a good sleep with a mask on, you need to try and decrease the number of other distractions and concerns.
To get a good sleep while napping with a mask on, you should also eat and drink before taking the nap. By doing this, your body will use the napping time to properly digest what you consume. This will stop you from feeling hungry or thirsty while you nap.
You can also try and duck outside to get a bit of fresh air before settling down for a nap with a mask on. Practice slowing your breathing down and relaxing. By preparing in this way, when you go to take a nap with a mask on, you should be mostly relaxed. If you are relaxed, you should be able to get a good sleep while napping with a face mask on!