Snoozes Not Sneezes: How Allergies Affect Your Sleep
Watery eyes, sneezing, itchy throat… The cold-like symptoms of allergies can be tough to deal with during the day and interrupt your sleep at night. We look at what you can do to reduce the effects of allergies so you can get some shut eye.
April is the cruelest month for sinuses all over the United States. It may well look lovely when the world starts to bloom again, but all those flowers, trees and grasses create an explosion of pollen. For those of us suffering from allergies, that quite literally becomes a sight for our sore eyes... and runny noses... and sore throat... A-a-a-chooo!
The worst part? The effects of this aren't just confined to the daytime. It can also ruin your sleep at night, leaving you feeling all the more miserable the next day.
How Allergies Affect Your Sleep
The medical term for what we’re talking about is allergic rhinitis: the inflammation of your nose as a result of contact with an allergen.
It’s basically a case of mistaken identity. Your immune system incorrectly identifies a harmless substance - the allergen - as an intruder. On red alert, it releases the defense squad (aka, histamine), which unleashes everything at its disposal to rid your body of the intruder. Watery eyes? Check. Sneezing? Definitely. Itching? Bring it on.
Pollen is the trigger for hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis. It’s not just a spring thing, though, as you can be hit with hay fever during different growing seasons, depending on what pollen you are allergic to.
But there are other culprits that can spark allergic rhinitis all year round, such as pet dander and dust mites, those little bedfellows that nobody wants to snuggle up with.
To add insult to injury, one study found that people with allergic rhinitis had every aspect of their sleep impaired as a result. It’s perhaps not that surprising given the uncomfortable symptoms it provokes. But if you’re suffering from your allergies, it’s likely that you’re also suffering from a lack of good zzz’s.
How to Sleep Better with Allergies
If all this allergy stuff sounds like you, don’t lose hope. Here in the endless growing season of the Bay Area, the Sleep365 team knows a thing or two about battling allergies. We’ve put together some tips to help you subdue that pollen and hay fever and enjoy better sleep.
Close those windows
We know you love that crisp spring air drifting into your bedroom at night. But what’s worse? The room being a bit stuffy, or your nose being a lot stuffy? Pollen can sneak through the tiniest openings, like those holes in your window screen. Once in, those little particles will be drifting all around your bed, wreaking havoc on your sinuses all night long. There are some specialized window screens that claim to filter out pollen, so you might consider those, too. But, we do know one thing for sure — they can't sneak through glass, so closed windows will keep the pollen at bay every time!
Filter your air
Whether you have the windows open or not, installing an air filter in your bedroom could be really helpful. Some filters can remove as much as 99% of pollutants, including pollen and dust mites, which could leave you breathing much easier. In fact, some of our team tried air filters and air purifiers in the home, and they swear by them. One in the bedroom, and another in the living room. The difference is truly night and day.
Don't share your bed with pets
Your furry friend can unfortunately also be a walking allergy trigger. Pet hair can collect pollen and other allergens from outdoors, while the proteins found in their dander can also cause an allergic reaction. So banishing them from the bedroom is a bit of a no-brainer. Of course, if you would feel bad about kicking out poor Marmaduke, then at the very least consider brushing him each night before he hops up on the bed. Use a good, high quality brush, and ideally do the brushing in the garage or outside. It's not a complete fix, but it will help.
Wash your stuff
The best advice about keeping your bedding clean: wash it once a week, even when you aren’t dealing with allergies. When they’re at their worst, you may want to make it a bit more frequent. Not only will it help with allergens, but a fresh and clean bed makes for even better sleep, too!
A study in 2016 discovered people with perennial allergic rhinitis may be helped by aromatherapy, suggesting a blend of essential oils including Ravensara, frankincense, and sandalwood. This stuff doesn't just smell amazing. As an added benefit, the study found that this also potentially improved overall sleep quality.
Get hypoallergenic bedding
What you are lying on all night can make a big difference, so we recommend choosing a mattress made from hypoallergenic materials if you suffer from allergies, seasonal or yearlong. Our organic mattresses feature luscious natural latex, organic wool and organic cotton. This makes them super comfy, super breathable and naturally resistant to mold, dust mites and other allergens. Add hypoallergenic bedding, such as sheets, blankets and pillows, and those pesky allergens will have nowhere to hide while you're sleeping.
See your doctor
If it feels like you’ve tried all the things and none of it seems to be working, then it’s highly recommended that you consult with a medical professional. Allergies can be so challenging and frustrating on their own — if they’re ruining your sleep, your quality of life will always suffer. So, it’s always a good idea to see what your doctor can do to make life (and sleep!) better for you and your family.
Breathe easy, rest easy
One last thing: when you get caught in a cycle of sleeplessness, it can be hard to fight your way out. So, alongside these specific techniques for reducing allergy problems at night, be sure to take extra care prepping your mind and body for sleep.
Goodnight! And good luck!