Sound Sleep Tips for Allergy Sufferers

By

Chris Iliades, MD

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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 postnasal drip can make nighttime the worst time for allergy sufferers.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep problems are common for people with allergies, and they can lead to daytime fatigue, decreased performance at work or school, and even depression.

Because most of us 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 some tips to help you get the rest you need.

Don't Sleep With Mites

One of the most common bedroom allergy offenders is the dust mite. That's because mites like to live inside box springs, pillows, mattresses, and bedding. Dust mites feast on dust, which is 90% shed skin cells. Dust mites also like warm, moist conditions. Keep your bedroom dust-free and allergy symptoms will improve. To keep dust mites away from your nose and throat:

  • Encase your box spring, pillows, mattress, and comforter inside zippered, mite-proof covers.
  • Remove heavy bedspreads and window treatments - they are popular dust mite breeding grounds.​
  • Vacuum regularly with a device fitted with a HEPA filter.​
  • Clear or replace ventilation filters monthly.​
  • Wash your sheets and pillowcases once every week in very hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill mites. Use very high heat to dry them, too.
  • Have your blankets cleaned monthly.
  • Use a bedroom dehumidifier to keep the humidity in the air below 50% and keep the room cool.

  • Don't Sleep With Your Pets

    Another big allergy offender in the bedroom is often the family cat or dog. Not only could you be allergic to your pet's animal dander, but your pet can bring dust mites, mold, and pollen into your bedroom. To live in better harmony with your furry friends:

    • There is no such thing as an allergy-free cat or dog. So if you don't have a pet and do have allergies, think twice before getting one.

    • Don't allow a dog or cat in your bedroom. If you do, 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 well or take a shower before tucking yourself in.

    Keep Outdoor Allergies Out of Your Bedroom

    Pollens and molds are usually considered outdoor allergies, although molds can live in any damp place. Here are tips for a better bedroom environment:

    • Keep your windows closed, especially in the morning when pollen counts are highest.

    • Use an air conditioner to keep your bedroom cool and dry.

    • Don't keep plants in your bedroom; molds love damp soil.

    • If you spend time outside during pollen season, make sure to shower and change your clothes before going into your bedroom.

    Better Bedroom Strategies

    These tips can help you sleep better with any kind of allergy:

    • Don't smoke and avoid smokers. Smoking makes asthma and allergies worse.

    • Get a good air filtration system for your entire house, including your bedroom.

    • Keep carpets and stuffed animals out of bedrooms.

    • Ask your doctor if your allergy medications can be adjusted to help you sleep better at night.

    Key Takeaways

    • Nighttime allergy symptoms can lead to serious daytime fatigue.

    • The best way to protect yourself from nighttime allergies is to allergy-proof your bedroom.

    • Common causes of nighttime allergies are dust mites, pet dander, pollens, and molds.

    • If you are struggling to get a good night's sleep because of allergy symptoms, ask your doctor for help. 

    Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 7, 2015

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