Heating pads are definitely a useful part of recovery from injuries, strenuous exercise and even just bringing some comfort.
Can you sleep with a heating pad on though? This is the question we’re going to answer today.
In this article, we will look at why heating pads are useful, whether you should have them in bed with you and how to use them safely.
By the end, you should have all the information you need to make an informed choice about whether to switch your heating pad on in bed or leave it for the morning.
Let’s begin with the benefits that heating pads bring to your body.
Why Are Heating Pads Useful?
If you have just completed a hard workout or are recovering from a muscle injury, heating pads can be excellent tools to use at home.
When your muscles become tight, your blood vessels become constricted. This means that your body can’t supply the affected area with enough oxygen to help you along with your recovery.
Heat increases blood flow to the area it is applied to as your blood vessels dilate and it becomes easier for your body to supply the muscle with what it needs. This enables more oxygen and nutrients to reach your injured or sore area and speed up recovery.
The effects you feel from heat can be reduced pain, looser muscles or joints and faster healing.
Heating pads definitely have their medicinal uses, but should they be in bed with you?
Should You Sleep With A Heating Pad On?
The short answer is that you should avoid sleeping with your heating pad on. This isn’t to say that there aren’t benefits to applying heat to your tired muscles, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of your safety and health.
The presence of a heating pad can create situations that you’ll need to react to while you’re asleep, so let’s take a look at some of the risks.
Burns And Disfigurements
As much as heat goes some way towards helping your recovery, you can get too much of a good thing. Prolonged exposure to the heat that some heating pads produce can result in burns and disfigurements.
It is generally recommended that you avoid using heating pads for long periods of time, but you won’t be able to regulate this if you’re asleep.
As with any electrical appliance, there is a fire hazard involved. This is especially true of heating pads as their electrical socket is more prone to overheating than most other appliances that are designed to stay cool.
Should a fire happen whilst your heating pad is on, you’re going to want to be awake in order to react.
Similar to suffering burns from your heating pad, being asleep will leave you vulnerable to accidents that could have been stopped early or the moment that they happen.
Making Injuries Worse
Just as a heating pad can be a great tool for healing injuries and muscle soreness, they can actually have the opposite effect. This would happen after prolonged exposure to heat, which can actually increase inflammation in the muscle.
If you have a strained muscle to begin with, you don’t want to overwhelm it as your body is already working to heal it naturally.
For this reason, you should use your heating pad in small doses so that your body gets the chance to recover itself before inflammation takes hold.
How To Use A Heating Pad Safely
If you are still thinking of sleeping with a heating pad on, there are precautions you can take to minimize some of the risks we just discussed.
Avoid Direct Contact With The Skin
Always make sure that you have something between your skin and the heating pad. This can be an item of clothing or a towel that will give your skin a buffer from the heat.
Avoiding direct contact with your skin will provide some protection against burns and disfigurements, making sure you don’t wake up with any unwanted surprises.
Many modern heating pads come with a control panel that can increase or decrease the temperature as well as set a timer.
Scheduling your heating pad to switch off automatically prevents you from having prolonged exposure to the heat. This will also go some way towards preventing burns in addition to bringing extra inflammation to your sore muscle.
Position Your Heating Pad Safely
If you insist on taking your heating pad to bed, you can position it in a way that reduces the risk of electrical faults.
Avoid placing your heating pad directly beneath your body and rest it on top of you instead. This will reduce the chance of the electrical systems overheating as you are not trapping the heat beneath you.
You should also remove any items that could be lying around such as books or phones and make sure that they are not resting on the heating pad too.
Avoid Taking Your Heating Pad To Bed Altogether
This is the safest way to eliminate most of the risks associated with heating pads. If you can avoid sleeping with your heating pad on completely, you are awake and alert whenever it is turned on.
You are in full control of how long it is in contact with your target area and you will be able to react to any faults straight away rather than being caught up in a fire hazard during the night.
The take-home message is that sleeping with a heating pad on should generally be avoided. If you insist on having it in bed with you though, there are measures you can take to make it safer.
However, your body is naturally trying to recover when you’re asleep, so it’s best to leave your body to do its thing without outside interference.
We hope this article has answered your questions on whether heating pads are useful and safe for sleeping with.
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