Fireplaces are warm and cozy, and many people notice they become a little sleepy after sitting next to a warm fire for a while. But why do fireplaces make you sleepy?
Fireplaces release a lot of heat, which relaxes our muscles and calms our bodies. In addition, the crackles of the fire produce a white noise that’s once again very calming and relaxing. It also helps that most people light their fireplaces in the evening, a time where most people start to wind down.
There are some pretty interesting reasons why fireplaces make us sleepy, which we’ll all cover in this article! We’ll also be going over some safety issues related to falling asleep next to lit fireplaces.
Why Do Fireplaces Make You Sleepy?
Fireplaces produce both heat and white noise, both aiding in relaxing our bodies. Simultaneously, our body also tries to cool itself down, pouring a lot of energy into that task. This all results in our body being relaxed and calm, making us more sleepy.
There are several reasons why you might feel sleepy after an hour next to your fireplace:
- Heat relaxes your muscles
- Fireplaces create white noise
- Your body works to cool down
- Fireplaces are most commonly lit at night
Now, most of these factors are relatively minor on their own, but combined, you can definitely feel their effects. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
1. Heat Relaxes Your Muscles
Fireplaces give off heat, and heat is known to relax our bodies. It makes our muscles more elastic and dilates our blood vessels, which helps flush out toxins. This aids in us being in a more relaxed and comfortable state.
In fact, heat therapy is commonly used to treat sore muscles. Who hasn’t taken a warm bath or shower after an intense workout and felt highly relaxed afterward.
It works the same with fireplaces, and, of course, you don’t need to have an intense workout beforehand. Just the heat projected by your fireplace can get you in that relaxed state of mind.
2. The Fire Creates White Noise
Aside from the relaxing heat, a fireplace also produces white noise. The crackling of the wood and embers, combined with an occasional pop, creates a very soothing sound that puts our mind in a relaxed state.
White noise is a combined noise at every frequency we humans can detect. And that’s why it’s so effective in helping people sleep; it drowns out most background noises.
The same goes for the white noise that fireplaces produce. It’s almost like you’re surrounded by a shield of sound, drowning out all the other sounds, leaving you only with the white noise. Naturally, this puts our brains in a relaxed state, making us more sleepy.
3. Your Body Works To Keep Cool
Our bodies regulate our temperature, so if a fireplace warms us up, our body tries to cool us down. This requires energy which could make you slightly more tired. This is enhanced by the warmth and white noise that a fireplace produces.
Any time your body needs to work to regulate something, it uses energy. And if energy is used, you naturally become more fatigued. Granted, the effects of this are relatively minimal, but when paired with all the other factors listed in this article, it all starts to stack up.
4. Fireplaces Are Usually Turned On In The Evening
The most common time a fireplace is lit up is after dinner somewhere in the evening. Our bodies are programmed to follow a certain sleep cycle. This is called the circadian rhythm and is mainly triggered by light. When the sun goes down, it’s getting darker, causing our bodies to wind down. We’re exposed to (sun)light at sunrise, causing our bodies to wake up again.
Now, since fireplaces are usually lit up at night, our bodies are already in a state of winding down. Granted, this isn’t a direct cause of a fireplace, but it definitely contributes to you feeling more sleepy.
In addition, you’re also exposed to everything we listed above. When you combine all of these factors, it’s easy to see why you’re getting sleepy after some time next to a fireplace.
Can You Sleep With Your Fireplace On?
It is unsafe to sleep with a fireplace on unless it’s an electric fireplace. Wood-burning and gas fireplaces pose a fire hazard if left on without anyone monitoring it, no matter how small or confined your fireplace is. Electric fireplaces don’t produce an actual flame, so there are no safety issues.
Although fireplaces can definitely make you sleepy, you should never fall asleep with one still burning. We’ve all heard about not sleeping with candles still on, but it’s the same with fireplaces. You don’t want a fire burning without any supervising it.
Despite fireplaces being very safe, there is always the chance that an ember flies out and sets something on fire. Yes, we do have hearths to prevent that, but there’s always a chance, however slim, that those flying embers set something on fire.
However, a more pressing issue is that of fumes and smoke. Most fireplaces burn gas or solid fuels, capable of producing toxic fumes such as carbon monoxide. This is especially true for wood-burning fireplaces, as treated woods such as 2×4’s are treated with and contain chemicals. But even just the smoke itself can be dangerous.
Overall, it is unlikely for something to go wrong, but it’s definitely not something to take your chances with. Fires can be incredibly destructive and can be caused by the smallest of embers hitting the wrong thing. Turn off your fireplace or make sure there are no more burning embers left before going to bed.
It’s also recommended to stop fueling your fireplace a few hours before you go to bed. This ensures that when it’s time to sleep, there’s only a small fire left.
Lastly, an electric fireplace can be left on at night. Electric fireplaces don’t produce an actual flame, so there’s no threat of a fire. You can basically treat an electric fireplace like any conventional heating system.