Sleeping Near an Electrical Panel: EMF Dangers & Safety Measures

You’ve likely heard of the dangers of exposure to Electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation and are wondering whether your electrical panel produces EMFs. EMF exposure is a valid concern for many, and you should not take it lightly, especially in your own home.

The National Electric Code (NEC) allows for the placement of a breaker panel inside a bedroom. Typically an electric panel in a bedroom is located near the entry door. Electric and magnetic fields can extend out up to 36 inches from the electric panel. Overall, electric panels emit very low EMF fields.

You may be wondering if it’s dangerous to sleep near an electrical panel? You can safely sleep near an electric panel. There is no substantial scientific evidence to suggest that sleeping next to an electric panel is harmful. Try to place the head of your bed at least 1 m (3.3 ft) away from the breaker box.

Sleeping directly next to electrical panels isn’t recommended since they emit low electric and magnetic radiation levels. Over time, the magnetic and electric radiation may accumulate in your body, causing tiredness, headaches, and mood changes.

Electrical panels produce extremely low levels of EMF radiation, but in comparison to other devices in your home, electrical panels emit quite a lot of EMFs. Long-term exposure to EMFs can cause sleep disturbances, headaches, and other ailments. Avoid sleeping directly next to your home’s electrical panel.

Electromagnetic fields commonly referred to as EMFs, are invisible waves that many electronic items emit. You hear a lot about the dangers of EMF exposure, but because it is entirely invisible, it’s a hidden danger that can be quite concerning. 

Let’s take a closer look at the dangers of EMF exposure from electrical panels and what you can do to mitigate the risks.

EMF Radiation from Electrical Panels

Electromagnetic radiation is a spectrum, with some being much more powerful and dangerous than others. 

EMF radiation is present in everyday life nearly everywhere you go; most modern electric devices emit some level of radiation. For the most part, EMFs are entirely indetectable because they are at such low levels.

In general, there are two main types of electromagnetic radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing. 

Ionizing radiation is extremely high energy and can cause severe harm to the human body. Large amounts of ionizing radiation can harm the cells in your body. For the most part, ionizing radiation is not a problem in everyday life. It is commonly present in gamma rays, X-rays, or powerful UV lights.

The other type of electromagnetic radiation, non-ionizing radiation, is much more common in everyday life. Non-ionizing radiation is low energy and is not powerful enough to adequately harm the cells in your body.

While it is not a concern in small amounts, coming into contact with large amounts of non-ionizing radiation can still have adverse human health effects. In this article, we will primarily discuss non-ionizing EMF radiation.

EMF Radiation TypeIs It Harmful?Examples
IonizingCan harm cells in your body, even in small amounts.X-rays, gamma rays, and powerful UV lights.
Non-ionizingLarge doses or prolonged exposure can cause harm.Wiring, Bluetooth, WiFi routers, and electronic devices.

Do Electrical Panels even Produce any EMF Radiation?

Household electrical panels produce quite a bit of EMF radiation. Electrical panels emit a minimal amount of EMFs compared to harmful levels, but it is a lot compared to other household items.

Some of the highest-producing EMF items in your home are the wires that carry electricity through your walls. Because electrical panels are the meeting place for many hot wires, naturally, they are a hub for a large amount of EMF radiation.

Electrical panels produce several hundred Milligauss of radiation, which can be enough to cause discomfort to some. In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at the dangers of EMF radiation from electrical panels in your home.

Is EMF Radiation from Electrical Panels Dangerous?

The type of EMF radiation that electric panels emit, non-ionizing radiation, is primarily thought to be non-harmful to humans in moderation. While the science is not definitive, prolonged exposure to EMFs can cause more severe health concerns, including cancer.

As long as you’re not sitting right next to your home’s electric panel or other electric devices for extended periods, you’re likely not in any immediate extreme danger.

However, even low levels of EMF radiation can have more minor side effects on you and your health. EMF radiation exposure can cause dizziness, headaches, mood swings, sleep disruption, fatigue, and other irritations. EMF radiation affects people differently, so it is more of an issue for some people than for others.

Non-ionizing radiation in moderate doses, like what you’d find in your home from electrical wiring and devices, is mostly harmless. It may cause mild adverse side effects on your health, though, and prolonged exposure to EMF may cause cancer and other life-threatening ailments.

Sleeping Near an Electrical Panel

EMF radiation can cause many uncomfortable side effects, and sleep is one of those things that it can impact. Exposure to EMFs can change your sleep cycles and patterns, which end up affecting other areas of your life.

The effect of not getting a good night’s sleep can cause dizziness, fatigue, and other side effects during your waking hours. In severe cases, EMF radiation can even contribute to insomnia.

So if EMFs can mess with your sleep, what exactly can you do about it? In the following few sections, we’ll cover the basics so you can take the necessary steps to shield yourself from EMFs and potentially improve your sleep.

Can an Electrical Panels be in a Bedroom?

While it is not ideal, you can install an electrical panel in a bedroom. As we discussed earlier, electrical panels emit relatively high levels of low-energy EMF radiation that can impact sleep and cause other discomforts.

You should install electrical panels far away from sleeping areas to avoid any EMF disturbances in an ideal situation. If you are designing a new-build house, make sure to consider this when deciding on electrical panel placement.

However, if you already have an electrical panel in a bedroom, you can’t move the room or circuit panel without an expensive renovation. All hope is not lost, though, because there are steps that you can take (which we’ll go into more detail on later in this article) to cut down the amount of EMFs electrical panels emit.

How Far away from an Electrical Panel Should You Sleep?

There’s no way around it; you’re going to sleep in a home with a breaker box. Because you must be near an electrical panel in some capacity, what is the ideal distance between you and the circuit breaker when sleeping?

In general, the farther away from an electrical panel you are, the better. There’s little to worry about if the breaker box is in a different room from your bedroom unless your bed and the circuit breaker are on the same wall.

If the electrical panel is in your bedroom, you should take more care to distance yourself from it. Place your bed on the opposite side of the room from the breaker if possible.

As an overarching rule, the inverse-square law states that if you double the distance from an EMF source, you get exposed to a quarter of the radiation. It’s not life or death, but every foot away from an electrical panel counts and can help improve your sleep.

How to Reduce EMF Radiation from an Electrical Panel

There is only so much distance that you can put between your bed and an electrical panel in most homes. If you must sleep relatively close to a breaker box, it’s good to take additional steps to reduce the amount of EMFs that the circuit breaker emits.

Before diving into EMF reduction measures in your home, it’s best to get an EMF radiation meter to test levels in and near your bed. To get the protection you want, you may need to use more than one method to reduce EMFs.

Even if you slightly reduce the amount of EMF radiation using the methods discussed below, it can have a profound effect on the quality of your sleep. 

1. Put a Mylar Blanket Over the Electrical Panel

Mylar blankets are relatively easy to find and are great at blocking EMF radiation. Mylar is a strong polyester material often found in emergency blankets. It is easy to handle and makes an excellent electrical insulator to shield you from EMF radiation.

There are many ways you could use a mylar blanket to block EMFs, but the easiest is probably to place it over your electrical panel. Most breaker boxes are in closets or utility rooms, so having a reflective blanket over your circuit breaker should interfere with the decor or everyday life in your home.

2. Use a Faraday Bed Canopy

If you must sleep near a breaker box, a faraday bed canopy can be a great option to block EMFs while you are in bed. Faraday bed canopies work by surrounding your bed with an EMF-blocking material to reduce the amount of radiation that reaches you.

The name may make it sound tacky or over-the-top, but many faraday bed canopies look pretty fashionable and blend right into bedroom decor. It’s like a regular bed canopy, but with an added layer of radiation protection to help you get better sleep.

3. Paint Your Room Using EMF-Blocking Paint

EMF-blocking paint is another nondescript way to protect yourself from EMF radiation while sleeping, but it is one of the more expensive options on this list. It looks exactly like regular paint but blocks much of the EMF radiation that otherwise would have made it to you while you’re sleeping.

Paint that helps block EMF radiation is only really effective if the breaker box is outside your bedroom or in a closet. You’ll often need to do two or more coats of EMF blocking paint to get adequate protection, so make sure to use an EMF radiation meter to monitor levels.

4. Move the Electric Breaker Panel

While turning off the electric power to your entire home would certainly help protect you from EMF radiation, it is likely overkill for the amount of protection it would provide. Moving the electric panel to another area in a house can be expensive.

Moving the electric breaker panel to a non-sleeping area, like a garage, can cost $1500 to $4000 depending on the amount of electrical work that is needed.

Common EMF Radiation Exposure Side Effects

Spotting the signs of too much EMF radiation can be critical to know that you need to change something about your sleeping arrangement or home. Nearly every electrical device in a modern home emits some level of EMF radiation.

In most cases, these symptoms are not solely the fault of EMFs, but EMF radiation only exacerbates the problem and can put additional stress on your body. Below are some of the most common side effects of EMF radiation exposure. 

  • Fatigue – EMF radiation can make you feel mentally and physically tired. Fatigue causes you to feel tired all of the time and can negatively impact your day-to-day life.
  • Headaches – EMF radiation can cause severe and mild headaches. The extent of radiation-induced headaches depends on the person, but they are never a good sign.
  • Sleep Disturbances – EMFs can disrupt your sleep cycles and even cause insomnia in some people. The effects of inadequate sleep can ripple into other parts of your life and make you feel tired and unfocused. 
  • Nausea – EMF radiation can affect how you feel pretty strongly, often inducing a sickly or nauseous sensation. Dizziness is also often accompanied by these symptoms.
  • Anxiety – EMFs can impact your mood and cause bouts of restlessness or anxiety. In many cases, you can attribute some levels of irritability to EMF radiation exposure.
  • Skin Irritation – Some people report feeling skin irritation due to EMF radiation exposure. Especially if you have a preexisting skin condition, it can contribute to flare-ups and general irritation.
  • Appetite Loss – These EMF side effects can cause a general feeling of sickness, often culminating in appetite loss.

If you feel any of these health issues, seek advice from a medical professional, and be sure to mention your concerns about the level of exposure to EMF. They can do tests that can confirm or rule out whether constant exposure to electric and magnetic fields is at fault.

While no current evidence supports serious health risks associated with sleeping in a room with an electric panel, you may be more sensitive to these conditions. Also, electromagnetic field radiation exposure can be higher in houses with old wiring or the metal cover is not attached to the electric panel.

Conclusion

Non-ionizing EMF radiation is the most common type of EMF that you’ll find in everyday life. Exposure to EMFs can cause many side effects and health risks, ranging from sleep disturbances to fatigue. Long-term exposure can lead to even more severe health issues.

One of the largest emitters of EMF radiation can be the electrical panel in your home. It is best to sleep as far away from any breaker box as possible to help protect yourself from EMF radiation in your home. Placing your bed on the opposite side of the bedroom is a good start.

If you cannot move your bed far away from a circuit breaker panel or want some extra protection, you can use EMF-blocking paint or a mylar blanket to reduce your exposure. While these measures and others are very effective, the best solution is simply putting distance between you and the EMF emitting source.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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