Can You Sleep in a Closet? (Take These Safety Precautions)

Can You Sleep in a Closet

Sleeping in a closet might seem like a strange idea, but many people have explored this option for various reasons, such as limited space in their homes or a desire for a unique sleeping experience. Is sleeping in a closet safe, though?

As long as you leave the door open or there is airflow into the closet, it is safe for an adult or older child to sleep there.  With the right preparation and setup, a closet can be transformed into a comfortable and cozy sleeping space. However, it’s important to consider factors such as ventilation, lighting, and safety when sleeping in a closet.

Of course, there is a lot of nuance to this question.  Whether or not the closet can accommodate a bed or other place to sleep is just one thing to consider. In this article, we’ll delve deep into what you can do to ensure you and your family get the best sleep possible.

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

If you are going to sleep in a closet instead of your bedroom, you need to take some extra precautions.  Ensuring that you’re still getting quality sleep is important!

Here are three essentials for a night of safe sleep in a non-traditional sleeping space:

1. Window FanTo ensure proper ventilation.

2. Carbon Monoxide DetectorEnsure there are no dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

3. Weighted BlanketTo help you sleep.

Sleeping in a closet

To start with, we’ll discuss the best ways to turn your closet into a safe sleep space and how and why people would choose to sleep in a closet, to begin with.  We’ll also answer some common questions regarding the law and sleeping spaces.  Let’s get started!

Can You Sleep in a Walk-in Closet?

You need adequate airflow to be able to sleep in a walk-in closet.  As long as the door is open or you can otherwise get air from vents or an open window, you can sleep in a walk-in closet if you are comfortable doing so.

Some people enjoy sleeping in smaller, confined spaces, making them feel safer. In fact, some walk-in closets are large enough to comfortably house a sleeping space, be it a couch or a twin-sized bed

Is It Ok to Sleep in a Closet?

Sleeping in a closet is okay if the closet door is left open or there is some other ventilation in the room.  If you are comfortable sleeping in a small space, electing to sleep in a closet instead of a bedroom can save valuable space in a small apartment or house.

You may choose to sleep in your closet to save space.  While some people may not understand the allure of sleeping in a small space (hello claustrophobia!), for others, it’s preferable as it ensures a better sleep environment.

Is It Illegal to Sleep in a Closet?

Your closet should not be the only bedroom in your home, as most municipalities require a bedroom to have a bed, a closet, and an easily accessible exit in case of emergencies.  However, as long as you are choosing to sleep in a closet but aren’t forced to, it’s not illegal.

If you have children or are a foster parent, a closet, even one designed as a bedroom, is unacceptable.  CPS is very strict about what a child needs for proper development, and they will ensure those needs are met.

Is It Bad to Sleep in a Closet?

As long as modifications have been made to the closet and you get proper airflow, sleeping in a closet is not bad.  Some people with anxiety or PTSD prefer to sleep in a closet because they feel safer in a confined space.

If you choose to sleep in a closet, just be sure that you’re leaving the door open to allow for proper airflow.  If your closet has a window, you may want to leave the window partly open instead, weather permitting.

Can You Suffocate Sleeping in a Closet?

Suppose you’re going to try and sleep in a closet. In that case, the closet door or a window within the closet should always be left open to allow oxygen flow and prevent suffocation.

While some people enjoy sleeping in enclosed spaces like a closet, carbon monoxide poisoning can be a concern if you close the door. Hence, keeping the door or window open, and even installing a window fan and a carbon monoxide detector, can be a literal lifesaver!

Bedroom Options

If you’ve chosen to sleep in a closet instead of your bedroom, you have probably gotten some weird looks and questions from family and friends.  In this section, we’re discussing why people choose to sleep in closets and what that means for their mental health.

Does Sleeping in Your Closet Mean You’re Depressed?

People choose to sleep in untraditional sleeping spaces all the time.  Sometimes these choices are due to anxiety, depression, or PTSD, but other times it’s just what feels comfortable to them. 

However, if you are feeling depressed and are noticing changes to your sleep patterns and habits, please reach out for help. You can text the crisis text line by texting “HOME” to 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, even if you’re not feeling suicidal.

Why Do I Like Sleeping in Small Spaces?

Some people prefer sleeping in small spaces because it makes them feel safe.  Having deep pressure can help calm anxiety.  Additionally, having a dark sleep space can help you get a better night’s rest.

For those who like having the feeling of being pressed into a small space to sleep but don’t want to go as far as sleeping in a closet, consider getting yourself a weighted blanket instead. They can also help with restless leg syndrome. 

How Do You Turn a Closet Into a Bedroom?

Before attempting to turn a closet into a bedroom, be sure to check your local laws. For example, in some states, a bedroom has to have a closet to be considered a bedroom. Hence, making this change is impossible.

If your home county does not require a closet, it probably does require a window and a door. However, if you have a walk-in closet, you may just need to add a window, and you’ve got yourself a bedroom. 

What Is a Legal Bedroom?

In most places, a legal bedroom has a closet, a window, and a door, so the room owner has a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, you should check your local laws for full rules and laws on what is considered a bedroom.

No matter your state’s legal definition of a bedroom, you should follow it to the letter.  Failure to provide a safe bedroom for a child or even an adult can lead to serious consequences.

Is It Okay to Have a Bedroom Without Windows?

Most places require a bedroom with a window and a door because they are necessary in a fire or other emergency.  Without being able to open a window or close a door, you are at higher risk if something happens in the home.

The International Residence Code has strict standards for what a bedroom needs, and included in this are two points of egress (or exit) in case of emergency.  This means a bedroom door and at least one window for most people.

What Is a Non-conforming Bedroom?

A non-conforming bedroom is a room in a home, such as a closet, which is illegally used as a bedroom without having the necessary components to make it a bedroom. For example, the room may have one door and no windows, meaning there’s only one point of egress in case of an emergency.

People sometimes turn rooms into non-conforming bedrooms hoping to entice renters into thinking their apartment has more bedrooms than it actually does.  This practice is extremely dangerous for all parties.  Landlords can be sued, whereas renters may be at higher risk in cases of emergency.

You might also enjoy our post on Does A Bedroom Have to Have A Closet?

Children sleeping in a closet

If you’ve just had a child and are short on space, one option is to convert a large walk-in closet to a makeshift nursery. However, there are very specific rules to follow if you intend to do this. So let’s talk about it!

Is Sleeping in a Closet Safe?

As long as all proper precautions have been taken, having a child sleep in a non-traditional bedroom, such as a closet, can be safe.  However, it must have a window and a door and should be able to accommodate a crib or other safe sleeping area.

You should always ensure that a child’s room has a carbon monoxide detector, a fire extinguisher, and at least two ways to exit should an emergency occur.  This usually is a window and a door, each at different spots in the room. That way, if one is blocked, the other may still be accessible. 

Is It Okay for Children to Sleep in a Closet?

While it is possible to renovate a large closet to be used as a bedroom, most states have strict standards regarding what is considered a bedroom.  No matter what, a child’s room needs two exits, a closet area, and a safe place to sleep.

Check your state’s legislation for a full list of necessary requirements for a child’s room.  For example, in Wisconsin, your child’s room must have access to the outdoors, provide privacy, clean bedding and mattresses, and more.

Can a Baby Sleep in a Walk-in Closet?

Legally, a baby needs their own bedroom; a walk-in closet isn’t acceptable for their needs.  While it is possible to renovate a walk-in closet to become a legal room, you’ll need to add a closet area, windows, crib, and other items, depending on your state.

Be sure to check your state’s rules carefully regarding bedrooms. While having a non-conforming bedroom may save you money initially, if you are caught allowing a child to sleep there, you can get in lots of legal trouble with child protective services.

Why Does My Toddler Want to Sleep in the Closet?

If your child has sensory issues, they may prefer the dark and quiet of a closet. It can also help them feel safe if they are in a small, enclosed area.  If your child is doing this, you may want to discuss their sensory issues with their pediatrician. 

While a child choosing to sleep in a closet for a night or two may not be a big deal, you should still ensure that the closet is safe to sleep in. For example, do not allow them to close the door if there is no other source of ventilation.  You should also have a carbon monoxide alarm in the closet.

Is Making Your Child Sleep in a Walk-in Closet Considered Child Abuse?

A walk-in closet is not a substitute for an entire bedroom, and not having a proper bedroom for a child can be considered child abuse. In addition, Child Protective Services may be notified if your children do not have proper sleeping spaces.

Your child’s room can have a walk-in closet, and you can choose to do what you will with that space. However, the closet can’t be the entire room.  In most places, a bedroom can only be considered a bedroom if it has a door, a window, and a closet. Anything less than that is non-conforming and can land you in hot water with CPS.

Can a Closet Be Used as a Bedroom?

A closet is not a stand-in for a bedroom and cannot be used in place of one.  In most states, a bedroom requires a closet, a window, and a functional door.  Without these things, the room is non-conforming to the standards of a bedroom.

Some places, however, do not require a closet as a necessary part of a bedroom.  If you live in one of these places, you may be able to add a functional window to your walk-in closet, and it can be legally considered a bedroom.

You might also enjoy our post on If Walk-In Closets Need Outlets?

Related Questions

What Are the Effects of Sleeping in a Closed Closet?

If you enjoy sleeping in a closed closet, you should ensure that there is still adequate airflow.  Otherwise, you may become more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. This is also why you should have a carbon monoxide detector.

Sleeping in a closed area may make those who have PTSD, sensory issues, and anxiety feel calmer and help them get a sound sleep.  However, it can also backfire, as there are fewer points of egress in an emergency.

What Can You Do With an Empty Walk-in Closet?

There are plenty of options for an empty walk-in closet.  You can use it for extra storage space.  You can also repurpose a large closet as a home office, gym, or other small room.

If your state doesn’t require a bedroom to have a closet, you can also turn it into a small guest room, as long as it has a window and door that opens and closes.  The window should be large enough for an adult to get through in an emergency.

Can You Have a Window in a Walk-in Closet?

In most cases, you can add a window to a walk-in closet if it does not already come with one.  You can either perform this renovation yourself or hire a professional to come in and add one.

If you plan on using the walk-in closet for sleeping, having a window in it makes it considerably safer.  Not only can that be a way of escape in an emergency, but it’s also a cheap way to ventilate the room, preventing carbon monoxide build-up.

Final Thoughts

For an adult with no disabilities, sleeping in a closet can be a personal choice. Maybe it makes you feel safer sleeping in a small area.  If you choose to do this, be sure that your closet of choice has more than one exit and plenty of airflow.  

If you plan on turning a closet into a sleeping area for children, just make sure you follow all of your state’s codes for a child’s bedroom.  Otherwise, you may be getting a visit from the law that no one wants to deal with.

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