Unlike many other mammals, humans don’t take heat from the earth. The warmer our bodies are kept through either fire or electric heating sources, the more comfortably we can fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. As such, the question is whether you sleep over or under an electric blanket?
You should sleep under an electric blanket. For both safety and practical reasons, heating blankets should always be placed on top of another blanket, never under one or yourself.
In this article, I’ll answer the question of whether you sleep over or under an electric blanket, in addition to why you should always place a heating blanket on top of another blanket.
The first thing you should know about electric blankets is that it’s best to place them on top of your bed. This allows the heat to reach its full potential, warms the body more efficiently, and loses less heat through radiation. If you do decide to sleep under an electric blanket, be sure to use it along with a quilt or comforter, so there’s another layer between your skin and the heating pad.
There are two main reasons why you should always place an electric blanket on top of the bed.
- To avoid overheating. When placed under a normal comforter or quilt, an electric heating pad can cause overheating, which can lead to burns and make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Efficiency. Placing your body directly on top of an electric warming mat prevents it from reaching its full potential because of loss through radiation. As such, electric blankets should be used on top of bedding, not underneath it.
How to Prevent an Electric Blanket From Overheating
Although electric blankets are a convenient way to stay warm, they can pose a major safety risk if not properly maintained.
In the case of electric blankets that don’t have an automatic shutoff feature, there’s often a warning label stating that you should never cover the heating pad with anything but bedding. In other words, don’t put another blanket or quilt on top of it. Not following this step could lead to overheating and even fire hazards.
You may experience overheating when using an electric blanket underneath your bedding or directly underneath your body. This can cause the temperature to rise so much you begin sweating and get clammy. Very high body temperatures would cause heat-related injuries such as burns or heat exhaustion in the worst case.
Electric blankets are meant to be used on top of your bedding or comforter because they’re more efficient. By trapping the heat created by the blanket between the blanket and your covers, it means you don’t have to put out as much electricity for an equivalent amount of warmth.
Further, using a heating pad underneath a bedspread makes it harder to push down against the mattress enough for comfortable sleeping. You’ll end up feeling like there’s a bar running across your body where the blanket touches you because it can’t be pushed down far enough without making contact with both surfaces.
This is because electric blankets get hotter higher up from the heat source, while heat from hot water bottles or microwavable heating pads will spread out.
Most problems occur because people place an electric blanket underneath their normal bedding without putting anything on top of it. This causes heat to be lost through radiation rather than conduction, preventing optimal use of the blanket’s ability to heat your body.
Are Electric Blankets Safe to Use?
An electric blanket heated to the right temperature can be very relaxing and comforting, especially in cooler weather. But are blankets safe? What about children or pets? How does one care for an electric blanket to prevent damage or misuse?
Electric blankets are fairly safe if used correctly; however, there are some precautions you should take before using them, to ensure your safety and especially your children’s.
The risk of fire when using an electric blanket properly is extremely low, but it’s still important that you know how to use one safely. Never use an electric blanket with damaged electrical wiring or a frayed power cord. And don’t sleep on top of your electric blanket, as this can damage the wiring or cause overheating.
Electric blankets should never be used on children younger than five years old. Even older kids should not use an electric blanket if they don’t understand its dangers, including overheating.
If you want to use your electric blanket when you sleep, remember that this is only safe when using the correct wattage for your bed. Too high of wattage can lead to overheating injury, while too low of a setting will provide inadequate warming and isn’t recommended either!
When you first get an electric blanket, don’t use it for more than two hours at a time. Also, make sure to clean your electric blanket periodically to remove dust and other debris that may inhibit heat transfer through the wires. Replace your blankets every five years even if they look okay because some damage can occur very quickly without being visible to the naked eye.
Some safety tips for using electric blankets include:
- Don’t use the blanket if it’s frayed, cut, broken, or damaged in any way. Replace immediately!
- Use your hand to feel for hot spots and ridges in the blanket before climbing under. If the wires are popping out of place or you feel a ridge while using your hand to test for heat, don’t use it!
- Before applying the electric blanket, make sure that there’s no clothing between it and your body; otherwise, you could burn yourself.
- Make sure to turn off your electric blanket when you’re finished using it.
- Don’t sleep on top of the controls because they can get very warm and cause a fire hazard, especially if they have been accidentally turned on.
Don’t tuck the electric cord behind the mattress or let it rest against a person’s body while using an electric blanket, as this could cause skin irritation. Most importantly, never wrap yourself in an electrical appliance during sleep unless it’s even moderately warm outside or you could suffer from shock or electrocution.
Although many parents leave their children in a room with an electric blanket warming their bed to give them a better night’s sleep, this is quite unsafe. If your child doesn’t know how to properly care for the blanket, they could forget it exists and wander off with it when they go play outside or when they need something from another room (such as when they wake up thirsty in the middle of the night).
To keep your children safe while sleeping warmly on cold winter nights, we suggest using fitted twin sheets or layers of multiple heavy blankets.
Pet safety guidelines are similar to those for children because pets have thinner skin than adults do. Keep your pet’s body away from the heated areas of the blanket, making sure that no part of their face or muzzle is touching the hot fabric even while they’re sleeping. Also, be sure there’s no way the pet could push the blanket down below their stomach or pull it up to their face while resting on top of it.
Many pets enjoy cozying under blankets of any kind, so if you still want to use an electric blanket to warm your pet during cold weather months, follow these guidelines for their safety and comfort:
- Try using a throw or heavy blanket on the area your pet will be instead of an electric blanket. These products allow your furry friend to stay close by without worrying about them getting too hot. Do your best to prevent them from getting on the electric blanket.
- Never leave dogs or cats unattended near heated bedding, even if they seem tired or drowsy. Your pet may fall asleep faster than expected and end up with burns on their skin by morning.
To keep both your furry family members safe while still allowing them to sleep comfortably during cold weather months, we suggest using fitted twin sheets with one side made of polar fleece material rather than an electric blanket. If there are kids in your household who might be tempted to mess with the controls for your heated bedding, consider investing in a child-lockout feature on the heating unit itself.
While electric blankets are a great way to stay snug and warm during the chilly winter months, keeping safety your top priority is important. If you want to use an electric blanket for yourself or others in your home, be sure not to let pets or young children play around with it, as they can receive severe burns if they come into contact with the heating coils inside the device.
Also, ensure that any heated bedding products include a child lockout feature and that you read all instructions carefully before using the product for the first time each season.