Do you struggle with allergy symptoms? Do they feel especially bad at night when you’re trying to fall asleep or stay asleep? Whether your allergy response is caused by dust mites, pet dander, or pollen, seasonal allergies are an all too familiar annoyance. They often feel worse in the morning or at night calling for much needed nighttime allergy relief.
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is common during allergy season. Inflammation occurs when you become exposed to an allergen like pollen, mold spores, or pet dander, among others.
Your allergic reaction may vary, but allergy symptoms often mimic cold symptoms. You may experience nasal congestion, sinus pain, a runny nose or itchy nose, sore throat, itchy eyes or watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and fatigue.
Each of these symptoms is unpleasant during the day. At night, when you’re trying desperately to fall asleep, they can feel even worse. Especially when they keep you (and your bed partner) awake which further compounds the foggy-heading exhaustion you feel during the day when allergies strike.
Alleviating allergy symptoms is even more important if you already struggle with a sleep disorder like insomnia, or count yourself among one of the millions of sleep deprived Americans. If you have diagnosed sleep disordered breathing (sleep apnea), you may even have trouble using your CPAP. If you have sleep apnea but are undiagnosed, your already fragmented sleep and snoring can get worse.
Related: Can Allergies Make You Tired?
Many allergy sufferers choose to take allergy medicine such as a nasal decongestant or nasal steroid, allergy drops, or a nasal spray to help clear the nasal passage when suffering from respiratory allergies. While others prefer more natural methods, such as a neti pot, when dealing with a nasal allergy to avoid common side effects like drowsiness and dry mouth.
If you’re seeking more natural methods to help prevent upper respiratory allergies, alleviate everyday symptoms and help you get nighttime allergy relief, follow these eight simple guidelines so you can put your symptoms to bed and get the good night’s sleep you deserve.
1. Use an Air Purifier
You don’t have to be an allergy sufferer to benefit from an air purifier. There are numerous benefits, including odor elimination, but it’s especially helpful for removing common allergens like pet dander, dust mites, mold and pollen that gets tracked into homes on shoes, clothes, hair and skin.
2. Keep Your Windows Closed
A cool spring breeze may feel nice, but window screens may keep out large insects, don’t block tree pollen or other common allergens the breeze may carry into your home or bedroom. Especially if you regularly leave your bedroom windows open at night to let the cool air circulate inside, you may notice even more severe allergic reactions or symptoms from nighttime allergies.
3. Dust Your Furniture Regularly
Go a week without vacuuming or dusting your furniture, especially in a sunny well lit room and you’ll notice a film of dust collecting on bedside tables, dresser drawers and any other surface that doesn’t get touched often.
If you don’t have a regular cleaning routine that includes dusting and often wake up with a stuffy nose, dust mites may be to blame. A dust mite allergy is more common than you might realize.
You may be at higher risk for dust mites too if your bedroom decor includes large heavy drapes, lots of decorative pillows and upholstered furniture. Carpeting, shaggy rugs, stuffed animals, dolls, and books are also dust traps that need to be vacuumed often or dusted regularly.
4. Keep Pets Out of Your Bedroom
You may love snuggling with your pets at night or letting them sleep at the foot of your bed, but if you get an allergy flare-up or have a hard time breathing at night your furry friends may be to blame. Pet dander and hair are both common allergens.
For several nights, have your pets sleep in a separate room. If you experience relief from your nighttime allergies, you may have to resign yourself to sleeping without your pet.
5. Wash Your Clothes Immediately
If you’ve spent any time outside during high pollen count dates you’ll benefit from a quick change of clothes when you get home instead of continuing to lounge around in them.
Rather than wait until “laundry day”, throw them into the washer and immediately wash your clothes. Even when you can’t see the pollen or allergens they linger on your clothes and contribute to inflammation and upper respiratory allergies.
6. Shower Before Bed
Similar to removing and washing your clothes when you get home, showering and washing your hair before bedtime rinses allergens away that would otherwise irritate your eyes and nasal passages.
Side benefit, a warm shower as a part of your nighttime routine helps you wind down for a more peaceful rest and the steam from the shower can provide temporary sinus relief.
7. Take Allergy Medications at Night
If you currently take an antihistamine or allergy medication in the morning, consider taking it at night.
Many allergy medications, such as Zyrtec, are recommended every 24 hours. By taking the medication before bedtime you’re more likely to get through the night without the active ingredients wearing off or becoming less effective closer to the end of the 24 hour period.
As with all medications though, it’s best if you consult with your doctor.
8. Talk to Your Sleep Specialist and/or Sleep Coach
Even if you follow these tips and make the necessary changes, sleep problems may still persist. If you’re struggling with insomnia, snoring, or stop breathing while you sleep, consult your doctor. You may require a sleep test to potentially identify more serious sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
While nighttime allergy symptoms do not always accompany OSA, a home sleep test can help you determine whether your symptoms will require more treatment than what can be done in the home.
Don’t let your allergies keep you up at night. There are easy steps you can take to ensure that your symptoms are under control so you can breathe easily. But if your seasonal allergies continue to affect your ability to sleep, contact us today to schedule an assessment of your symptoms.
Sublett, J.L. Effectiveness of Air Filters and Air Cleaners in Allergic Respiratory Diseases: A Review of the Recent Literature. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 11, 395 (2011).