Allergies and Sleep Issues: How Do They Relate?

Home / Allergies and Sleep Issues: How Do They Relate?

Today is National Doctor’s Day! Promoted by Physicians Working Together (PWT), a grassroots group that addresses issues pertinent to healthcare, National Doctor’s Day is part of National Physician Week. The goal of this week is to preserve a quality medical system that is based on the patient-physician relationship, something we take pride in at the Pasha Sinus & Snoring Center. As part of our promise to educate our patients, we’re uncovering the link between allergies and sleep issues because, often, they’re not as unrelated as they may seem. 

Let’s start off with some facts. 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 allergy sufferers stated that their allergies impacted their sleep quality while 48% stated that their symptoms also interrupted their partner’s sleep. When you take a closer look, the link between the two is clear.

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. 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. Schedule an appointment with us today so we can help!

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