It’s always comfortable to watch Netflix or just finish a little bit of work in bed. But do you ever find yourself in an uncomfortable position or find the heat unbearable? Without knowing how to properly use one in bed, we can hurt our backs or cause our computers to overheat.
Thankfully there are things we can do to minimize the heat and discomfort. This guide will show you how to use laptops in bed and how we can make it a more comfortable experience for us.
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Why Do Laptops Overheat In Bed (Is It Bad To Do?)
The answer is pretty simple; laptops have fan vents either on the left or right side or at the back or bottom. They generate airflow to push out the warmth and bring in cool air to keep the temperature of your laptop down.
So when you’re using your laptop in bed, the hot air will get trapped inside the laptop. The comforters or blankets will stop the hot air from escaping (as is their job with your body) and eventually lead to an overheating laptop that needs to be fixed.
Overheating in laptops can cause your PC to work slower, become sluggish, and even stop completely. In very rare circumstances, it can start a fire. It doesn’t have to lead to this, though! It’s actually a lot easier than you think to stop this from happening.
So, how exactly do you stop a laptop from overheating without leaving the comfort of your bed?
How To Use Laptop In Bed? (Without Overheating)
1. Cooling Pad
If used correctly laptop cooling pads work great. The cooling pad acts as a stand and has up to 5 fans to keep your laptop cool. They work consistently while the laptop is on top of it and act as support to the existing fans. It can be quite tricky to use in bed, though.
As it wasn't designed to be used in a bed, finding the balance to keep it sturdy can get difficult. However, once positioned right, you can see the screen better and tilt it higher to get a better view of the keyboard.
2. Laptop Tray/Table
Are you looking for something more permanent? A bed tray for laptops works like a treat! Laptop trays fold out and are adjustable to suit any height, as well as additional features like cup holders or even drawers.
They work to lift the laptop out of the comforter, eliminating the trapped heat. They don’t come with additional fans usually, but they won’t need it as they allow your laptop's fans to work as they should. You can get different designs as well to work with the style of your room.
3. Lap Desk
A portable desk? Sounds perfect! Laptop desks are different from a laptop tray or table, as they don’t have legs and sit directly in your lap. They’re cushioned underneath to be more comfortable on your legs, and the main surface is flat to allow your laptop to sit on top of it.
These give you the option to work or game wherever you want; on your sofa, at the table, or in bed. You can move to what makes you most comfortable.
4. Flat Surfaces
A simple and cost-effective method. Anything from a hardback book or folder lying around will work. This will lift the laptop from the blankets to let the fans work as they should. Objectively it works with anything; board game boxes, cutting board, food trays, anything!
As long as it keeps the fans away from the bedding, it should work a treat. Be careful that the flat object you're using isn't covering the fans because this will lead to the same problem. You also shouldn't use your legs as the flat surface; the fabric from your clothes will do the same as the comforter would.
5. Regular Maintenance
A crucial part of your laptop running normally is the care you put into it. Make sure the vents are clear and free of debris every now and then. A compressed air duster can really help with keeping the fans clean.
You don't have to be a tech wizard to clean your laptop; simply spray the air duster into the vents to clear out some of the dust. If your laptop is particularly old, or you live in a dusty environment, you may need to get your laptop cleaned out professionally.
Bonus Tips To Comfortably Use Laptop In Bed
The best thing to avoid overheating is to simply move the laptop higher. Using a lap desk or laptop tray is the most effective way of doing this, but you can also adjust your position in the bed to allow maximum airflow to the fans. What’s important is that you allow your laptop to cool itself down.
On modern PCs, the fan speed controls are more accessible through apps and programs. You can control the RPM through a preinstalled app, or you can download SpeedFan, an app that lets you control the speeds of the fans. If you’re so inclined, you can dive deep into the BIOS to increase CPU fan speed as well.
Your laptop will get hotter the harder it works. If you’re playing larger or more intense games, the laptop will work harder, which is when the heat will get trapped in by your duvet. Some light work, like responding to emails or catching up on Netflix, shouldn't be too much for your laptop to handle.
Avoid Hot Areas
If you know your bedroom is already hot, then it's best to get some ventilation going. This will help cool down the air around you, and in turn, the laptop will draw in cooler air to keep the temperature down. Don't use your laptop too close to a space heater or radiator, and don't use it under the covers.
Best Position While Using Laptop In Bed (Comfortable Ergonomics)
Sitting cross-legged with your back arched over the laptop is the worst thing you can do. It will only lead to strain on your spine, and your laptop will overheat quickly. If you feel most comfortable sitting up, there are different ways to do so.
To get the most comfortable position sitting upright, perch yourself upwards against the headboard (or wall if you don’t have one), and stretch your legs out for your computer to sit atop your lap. This way, there’s no strain on your back, and your fans get the airflow they need.
You can also lie facing upwards, with raised knees and the laptop upon your lap. This gives the laptop support as well as the least amount of strain on your eyes. You can tilt the screen as well to help adjust the angle you see best at. With both of these methods, you should try to use one of the methods above as a way to keep your gaming laptop cool.
Frequently Asked Laptop In Bed Questions
How hot is too hot for a laptop?
The highest temperature an active laptop works at is about 158F, and this is usually okay. However, if it starts to get hotter, it may start causing some problems. At roughly 194F, your GPU and CPU will start to go bad, and any hotter than that could be a fire hazard.
Is it okay to use my laptop on my lap in bed?
For short periods of time, it’s generally considered okay. It doesn’t get its name from being on top of your lap, though. Prolonged use can lead to exposure to harmful electromagnetic frequency or radiation, not to mention the strain on your back and poor posture.
Can a laptop catch fire if it overheats?
Yes, but it is unlikely. The lithium-ion battery is used in most laptops and will generally remain safe. If your laptop reaches temperatures of 302F, this is when the gasses could explode out of the battery and cause a fire.
Should I put my laptop on a pillow in bed?
You shouldn’t use a pillow to prop up your laptop. This is the same as using your laptop with the comforter or blankets and will heat up just as quickly as it would on the former.
Using your laptop in bed is comforting as it is relaxing. On those days you just don’t feel like getting out of bed, you can use your laptop without trapping the heat in and allowing it to breathe naturally.
Keeping your laptop away from fabric surfaces is the best thing you can do to avoid any damage or fire risk, and now you’re able to do so. Dust off that old college textbook and set your laptop on it, and you’ve got yourself a makeshift laptop table!
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.