If you have allergies, you know how hard it can be to fall asleep with a stuffy nose and how uncomfortable it is to wake up with a sore, scratchy throat. Nasal congestion and post-nasal drip can make nighttime the worst time for allergy sufferers. Sleep problems are common for people with allergies, and they can lead to daytime fatigue, decreased performance at work or school, and can impair your driving.
Because we spend about a third of our lives sleeping, allergy-proofing the bedroom is the best way to prevent nighttime allergy symptoms and get a better night’s sleep. Here are five tips to help you sleep through the night during allergy season.
1. Clean your bedroom.
Keep your bedroom well dusted and vacuumed, and wash curtains as well as bedding regularly. Let every sneeze remind you to get this done! However, some people are sensitive to harsh-smelling cleaning supplies, like ammonia and bleach, and highly scented detergents. So when you’re cleaning, opt for unscented and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
2. Use a dehumidifier.
Mold, mildew, and dust mites don’t have to make you miserable. A home dehumidifier can help you breathe again by drying out your air, which keeps these allergy triggers at bay. Mold and mildew thrive in moist areas, and dust mites love high humidity, so a dehumidifier helps reduce these allergens drastically.
3. Consider your bedding.
Sneezing while tucked into your bed? It might be your pillows or comforters. Many people are slightly allergic to feathers and down, so look into allergen-resistant bedding.
4. Keep outdoor allergens out of your bedroom.
Keep your windows closed, especially in the morning when pollen counts are highest. Don’t keep plants in your bedroom because mold loves the damp soil. And if you spend time outside during allergy season, make sure to shower and change your clothes before going into your bedroom.
5. Don’t sleep with your pets.
It’s best to keep pets out of your bedroom entirely, but if you do let them in, never let them up on your bed. If you have contact with your dog or cat before going to bed, wash your hands and face or take a shower before tucking yourself in.
Connection between Allergies and Sleep
Allergies affect roughly 20-50% of the U.S. population while sleep disorders affect up to 30% of the population. When you combine the two, a trend emerges. A French study found that sleep disorders were much more common in people who suffered from allergies as well.
In a survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and Teva Respiratory, nearly 60% of the surveyed can’t sleep because of allergies, while 48% stated that their symptoms also interrupted their partner’s sleep. When you take a closer look, the link between allergies and sleep issues are correlated.
Allergic rhinitis occurs when your body detects substances in the air called allergens, causing irritation and inflammation of the nasal passages. Whether you’re allergic to allergens that are often found outdoors such as airborne particles from trees, grass, or ragweed, or allergens that are often found indoors such as dust mites, mold, or pet dander, common symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing, post-nasal drip, and runny nose, among others. Since the most common symptoms of allergic rhinitis make it difficult to breathe, this also makes it difficult to sleep.
In turn, there are certain sleep disorders that can worsen allergies. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing at night, most commonly caused by the collapse of the upper airway. Nasal congestion, which causes the upper airway to narrow, puts allergy sufferers at an increased risk for both snoring and sleep apnea.
The good news is that there are lots of natural remedies to potentially reduce nasal inflammation. Even if you only suffer from seasonal allergies, it is easy to bring airborne allergens into your home through your clothing and shoes or by leaving a door or window open and suffer from night time allergies. One way to combat both outdoor and indoor allergies is to buy hypoallergenic pillows and bedding. Also, wash these items as frequently as possible. Make a habit of changing out of your outdoor clothes as soon as you arrive home and placing your clothing in the laundry room, keeping doors and windows shut, placing shoes in a closet that is not in your bedroom, and using high-efficiency filters to prevent the spread of dust.
While the aforementioned tips may help reduce your symptoms, they do not provide a long-term solution. Suffering from both allergies and sleep-related disorders may result in daytime sleepiness and fatigue. This spirals into a major problem that negatively impacts your productivity, alertness, and mood.
By diagnosing the cause of your problems, we work with you to find the right solutions given your unique situation. This approach produces lasting results. We know how important consistent, quality sleep is to your well-being. Discuss how to get quality sleep with Dr.Pasha today. We can help!
While these tips can provide temporary relief of your allergy symptoms, and allow you to sleep a bit easier during allergy season, they will not provide a long-term solution to your allergies like other allergy treatments. Dr. Pasha can help you find the source of your allergies and determine the best treatment option for you. Breathe freely again!