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How to Sleep When Allergies Hit
Cough, sneeze, sniffle, repeat.
Whether you have specific allergies or are affected seasonally, you know just how debilitating allergies can be — especially when it comes to sleep.
Fortunately, you don’t have to accept sleeplessness as an unavoidable consequence of your allergies.
If itchy, watery eyes and a stuffy nose are keeping you awake at night, read on. There are several things you can try:
Clean Your Air
If your allergies come from several different irritants (pollen, dust, dirt, etc.), a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter may be the answer to your stuffy-nosed prayers.
HEPA filters clean and sanitize the air so it’s free from allergens such as pollen, dust and smoke. They’re even helpful in eliminating general odors.
There are several different air filtration devices with true HEPA filters, ranging in price from $30 and up.
Some are free standing, like a fan, while others are small plug-ins, like a night light. You can even purchase HEPA filters for your heating and A/C ducts. Whichever type you choose, make sure you choose a filter that is compatible with your room’s square footage.
And when you’re using your filter, take extra care to keep windows and doors shut and properly sealed. It may sound like an extreme measure to essentially seal your room off from the outside world, but doing so is one of the best ways to ward off allergens.
Shower at Night
After a long day, your body and hair are covered in pollen, dust, dirt, dead skin cells and more. Although you may appear to be clean, these allergens are tiny particles invisible to the human eye and can cause allergic reactions (1).
By showering at night, you wash those allergens down the drain before rolling around in bed. Showering at night will also help immensely in keeping your sheets, pillows and mattresses clean.
Give Your Pet Some Space
This may be the hardest solution on the list for pet lovers. While we may not want to admit it, our pets are furry, walking, lovable balls of allergy.
Besides pet hair and dander, your cat or dog is also carrying around pollen, dust, dirt and who-knows-what-else in their fur.
And when you allow pets to sleep in your bed, what’s theirs becomes yours… including their allergens.
Here’s the unfortunate truth:
Pet owners who let their furry family members sleep in bed with them report lower sleep quality than those who don’t (2).
Try making your bedroom a pet-free zone. Set up a nice area for your pets to snuggle up in every night, or give them something rewarding to do while you sleep (treat mazes, window perches, toys, etc.).
After a few weeks, they’ll know when it’s time for bed and head to their own space to snooze.
To Humidify, or Not to Humidify…
Most people believe that one of the biggest allergy triggers is dry air, because dry air makes their eyes run and their throats itchy.
That’s why people often turn to humidifiers to keep their rooms damp and the air moist, believing that doing so will help their allergies.
Unfortunately, they’re wrong: prolonged exposure to moist air paired with the warmth of your nasal passages creates a breeding ground for bacteria, often leading to more extreme allergy symptoms (3).
Instead of humidifying your space, try taking a hot and steamy shower to help open up your airways and provide temporary relief from dryness before bed.
And for more consistent relief from allergies, consider a personal humidifier. With a personal humidifier, you don’t have to breathe in steamy air all the time — you get targeted relief, only when you need it (and your allergies are kept in check).
Say No to Booze
While indulging in red wine after a long week may make you think you feel invincible, most of our favorite drinks (beer, wine and liquor) contain histamine.
Histamine is the chemical that induces allergy symptoms (4), like runny noses, headaches and itchy eyes.
This means that alcohol can worsen allergy symptoms, which is especially bad right before bed. Wine and beer also contain sulfites, which are commonly known to induce or worsen allergy symptoms.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that women are twice as likely to be affected by alcohol than men when it comes to triggering allergy symptoms.
So if you feel particularly sneezy after a night on the town, it may be time to cut back and see how it affects your allergies.
Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Allergies Bite!
Don’t let your allergies decide how well you sleep.
Whether you choose air filters, showering at night, giving Bingo the boot, controlling humidity or skipping your nightcap, your allergies will be running for the hills faster than you can say “achoo.”
Let us know how it goes in the comments.
(1) Kittaneh, Firas. “9 Ways to Sleep Better During Allergy Season." HuffPost, 28 May 2015, www.huffpost.com/entry/9-ways-to-sleep-better-during-allergy-season_b_6912710
(2) Tayloe, Marygrace. “Should You Let Your Pet Sleep in Your Bed? Why You Could Be Sleeping Worse & How to Deal." Amerisleep, 17 Feb. 2016, www.amerisleep.com/blog/pet-sleep-in-your-bed/
(3) “HUMIDIFIERS AND INDOOR ALLERGIES.” American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunilogy, www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/humidifiers-and-indoor-allergies. Accessed 20 Jun. 2019.
(4) O'Connor, Anahad. "The Claim: Alcohol Worsens Allergies." The New York Times, 10 Apr. 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/health/20real.html