Allergies do not only cause excessive sneezing, itchy eyes or red skin irritation, but they can also interfere with our sleep. They can affect how well we sleep to such an extent that we might become sleep deprived if the allergens triggering the reactions aren’t controlled in your closest environment.
However, you’re not alone. It was found that approximately 30 percent of people suffering from allergies experienced sleeping problems that were in a way connected to allergies. Since allergies are highly manageable, but unfortunately not entirely treatable, is there something you can do in order to regulate your sleep?
Before naming all the things you can do for the sake of a good night’s rest, let’s first list all the allergens that could be reducing your sleep quality and explain how do these allergies exactly interfere with your sleep.
Most Common Household Allergens That Could Be Affecting Your Sleep
If you’re allergic, you probably know that allergens that are triggering your sneezing might be literally everywhere around you. Only if it’s the pollen causing all the sneezing and sniffing, you can catch a break out of the flowering season. However, all other common allergens are literally where you spend most of your time.
But, when it comes to bedtime sneezing and allergy-related sleep deprivation, some other allergens might be the real culprits. Although pollen might still get into your bedroom, it is more likely that these allergens are the ones standing behind your lack of sleep:
Pet Dander/Pet Saliva
If you have pets, it might be that you are allergic to your dog or cat, but you just happen to have allergic reactions at night. Pet allergens such as pet dander and pet saliva are among the most common culprits of allergies in humans.
It might be that your dog’s or cat’s dead skin are causing you to itch, sneeze, or even breathe with difficulty which inevitably affects your sleep quality. So, you might want to keep your pets off your furniture and out of your bedroom in order to better understand what is causing your poor sleep.
Unfortunately, dust mites are unavoidable parasites living in our homes. These little mites live in dust and usually live off the dead human skin cells. This is why they are mostly located in the places where you’re likely to shed your dead skin cells, such as the bed, furniture, and pillows.
Since dust mites and their allergens can’t be completely removed, you will need to set a good barrier between yourself and the surfaces that are probably inhabited with these little parasites. You can find plastic dust mite covers that will make sure these allergens don’t interfere with your sleep.
Damp spaces or spaces that lack ventilation often attract mold. This allergen is basically a type of fungus that floats in the air, once it reaches an inviting environment (warm, damp, not-ventilated rooms) it starts growing and becomes visible to the human eye.
Mold can trigger asthma or allergic attacks in people that suffer from these conditions. However, sleeping in a room with mold is not good for literally anyone. It could cause excessive coughing and sneezing. If you already have a surface that’s mold-infested, than you have to find a proper way to get rid of it. However, you can also prevent mold clusters from forming by leaving your bathroom clean and dry and leaving fan ventilation on while you shower. Consider buying a dehumidifier if humidity is higher than normal in your home.
This might also come to you as a surprise but those plug-in air fresheners can be the culprit of your sneezing, coughing and general sleep deprivation. It was found that fragrances used in cleaners, shampoos, conditioners, detergents, and air fresheners can contain up to 3,000 chemicals or more! So, it’s not really surprising that some of those chemicals might be the core of your problem.
Try to wash your bed linen and pillow covers with fragrance-free detergent. Removing scented items from your bedroom might also be enough to improve your sleep quality.
A lot of people already suffering from allergies or asthma have stated that mosquito repellents caused serious asthma attacks as well as considerably severe allergic reactions. If you happen to use them in summer, better switch to small devices that repel insects by emitting a sound that keeps them away.
Cigarette smoke can also cause allergies in a lot of people. Since people rarely smoke in their bedrooms, it is likely that people living in open space apartments where smoking is allowed or someone smokes inside can experience allergic symptoms at night.
Smoking inside the house is really not recommendable for several reasons. However, if someone smokes in your household, make sure you air your apartment every day. Also, close your bedroom door during the day to prevent smoke from entering.
Can Allergies Cause Sleep Problems?
Yes. Just like allergies can affect you throughout the day, they can also interfere with your sleep. The allergens causing you to have allergic reactions can irritate your nasal passages exactly in the same manner as during the day and cause coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes or even difficulty breathing.
In fact, one study showed that people suffering from allergic rhinitis experienced sleep deprivation and were more likely to develop some sort of sleep disorders. Although both conditions (allergies and sleep disorders) are quite common in a modern man, this was the first study that explored the link between the two.
What the study revealed is that people that were having troubles with allergies were much more likely to suffer from sleep disorders and disturbances too. People with allergies are more prone to having insomnia, experiencing difficulty with falling asleep as well as feeling as if they can’t get enough sleep.
The researchers involved in this study recommend that all people suffering from allergies should talk with their doctors about their sleep quality too and make sure to detect potential development of a sleep disorder in an early stage.
Also, allergies can also aggravate conditions of obstructive sleep apnea or snoring.
A night of proper sleep usually leads to a better mood and better overall health, so it is fair to say that “Good sleep is the first step to a better life quality”.
Do Allergies Cause Insomnia?
Allergic rhinitis is the condition of allergy-induced sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. This condition also known as hay fever affects your nose area and might be quite annoying to handle and can affect your concentration and energy level. So just like allergies can prevent you from doing your regular daily tasks with ease, they can also prevent you from getting the right amount of sleep.
In the beginning, allergies might only make you sleep less and make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. Unfortunately, when allergy symptoms worsen, so do sleep troubles. Therefore, not treating allergies might really end up in insomnia.
Allergies and Sleep Deprivation
The connection between allergies and sleep deprivation is proved to be quite strong. Therefore, if your allergic reactions during the day are quite severe, it is quite probable that they might be the reason why you feel tired during the day.
Getting from seven or nine hours of sleep doesn’t necessarily mean that you will feel rested. What matters is your sleep quality, and that’s exactly what allergies can attack. You might be asleep, but your body will still struggle to defend itself from allergens and will fight to reduce inflammation of nasal passages and so on… These things drain the energy that should have been used for regenerating your body and brain.
Therefore, it is more than normal to feel tired and sleep deprived when suffering from allergies. But, as this can affect your mood, choices and your life, after all, it is crucial to strengthen your immune system and to find the best way to keep your allergies under control.
However, before concluding this story with ways you can keep common allergens out of your bedroom, let me explain one more thing.
Why Are My Allergies Worse at Night?
Some people feel that their allergies are actually worse at night than during the day and there are several reasons that explain it.
First of all, if you sneeze a lot more in the night than during the day, the most logical thing is that you might be allergic to dust mites, pet dander or other environmental allergens that are more commonly found inside the house than outdoors. Second, you still might have pollen stuck to your hair or skin which can give you a bad wheezing episode.
But there is another factor that is very likely to make your allergic reactions worse – hormones. You know how you feel at least ten times sicker at night than during the day? Hormones are the ones to blame for that. However, there’s a good reason for it.
Our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol which is responsible for controlling body inflammation and helping our immune system work properly and defend us from everyday viruses, bacteria, and diverse antibodies. However, the production of this hormone is highest during the day and then drops as the night comes closer. As a result, our immune system becomes slightly weaker at night than during the day. This all leaves more space for your allergies to thrive and cause you a night of bad sleep.
Also, a hormone called histamine that plays an important role in regulating sleep is produced more at night. Unfortunately, this hormone is an important chemical in allergic reactions and can worsen allergic symptoms at night.
Unfortunately, if you suffer from previously mentioned allergens you are more likely to suffer at night than during the day. Eventually, this could lead to some kind of sleeping disorder that can also affect your overall health. So, although living with moderate allergies is bearable, they should always be treated properly.
As promised, I will now tell you more about how to reduce your allergies and how to keep common allergens out of your bedroom.
How To Reduce Allergy Symptoms at Bedtime?
Unfortunately, there’s not one answer to this question. If you know what you’re allergic to, it will be much easier for you to reduce or control the amount of allergens in your sleeping environment. This is why it’s important to test yourself to different allergens in order to determine which ones are irritating your immune system. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of things that all people with allergies can do in order to improve their sleep. So, let’s start!
1. Always Shower Before Going To Bed
When we come home from work, a run in the park, a drink with your friends, we collect all kinds of allergens to our clothes, hair, and skin. These allergens stick to us and eventually spread in the areas we use the most.
Therefore, try making taking a shower the first thing you do when you come home. Do that before even sitting or laying on your couch for a couple of minutes. Like this, you will reduce the amount of allergens you bring on yourself.
2. Groom Your Pets Regularly
If you have pets, make sure you groom them regularly. But if you’re very allergic to pet dander and saliva you might want to ask someone to do that for you. However, washing your pet once a week as well as brushing them every day will reduce the amount of dander spreading in your home.
Additionally, keep your pets out of your bedroom.
3. Keep Your Windows Closed
Pollen count raises in the morning and then stays high during the day and only gradually drops in the evening. Therefore, leaving your windows open during the day might be a great way to collect all the pollen allergens in your bedroom.
Avoid inviting that much allergens to your home and keep your windows closed throughout the day.
4. Use A Dehumidifier
If you think mold spores might be affecting your sleep and triggering your allergies, look for a good dehumidifier that will lower humidity in your bedroom and make it a less attractive environment for mold reproduction.
Also, keeping the air-conditioning on might also do the trick. And don’t forget to change your air filters monthly.
5. Vacuum Often
Frequent vacuuming is the key to keeping the amount of allergens in your home as controlled as possible. Although you won’t ever be able to make your home entirely allergen-free, vacuuming will help you to remove most of the dust mites, pollen and pet dander that has been collecting in your carpets and furniture.
6. Protect Your Mattress and Pillows
In order to prevent dust mites from keeping you away from getting enough sleep, buy a mattress cover that will create a barrier between these little annoying creatures and your linen.
You can find plastic ones on the market, but you can also opt for organic cotton mattress covers that are more comfortable for sleeping, especially during summer.
7. Clean Your Sleeping Environment
Washing your bed sheets on a weekly basis is also crucial in order to reduce your allergic symptoms. However, be aware that choosing the wrong kind of detergent or softeners might also trigger allergies and lead to a night of poor sleep.
Don’t forget to wash your curtains and carpets too!
If nothing of the above helps you in soothing your allergy symptoms at night, and if you still feel drowsy and tired in the morning, then consult your doctor on the best medication you can have for allergies. Try taking them at dinnertime so they can start working once you’re about to fall asleep.