How To Avoid Nighttime Allergies and Sleep Better
How to Sleep Better During Allergy Season
Allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and congestion can make it very difficult to sleep. Luckily, there are many things you can do to make yourself more comfortable at night, which should improve your sleep. Reducing the number of allergens in your bedroom can make a huge difference in your quality of sleep during allergy season. Clearing out your sinuses regularly and taking medications for your allergies will also help keep you more comfortable so you can sleep soundly.
Reducing Your Exposure to Allergens
Stay inside when conditions are bad.While it's probably not practical for you to avoid going outside during allergy season, you may be able to spend less time outdoors during the worst times. This will reduce your exposure to allergens, which should reduce your symptoms, and thus help you sleep better.
- The morning is typically the worst time of day for allergens.
- You should also avoid going outside when it is very windy or when pollen counts are particularly high.
- There are numerous websites (including most weather forecast sites) that offer daily forecasts for common allergens (like pollen and mold) so you can check conditions before leaving the house.
Wash and dry with high heat.To kill off any allergens that might be lurking in your fabrics, wash them at least weekly. Washing in hot water and using the dryer on high heat helps ensure that no allergens will stick around.
- Pay extra attention to any fabrics that you come into contact with at night, like bedding, towels, and pajamas.
Use air conditioning.To prevent allergens from entering your home, keep the windows closed and cool your home with an air conditioning unit equipped with a HEPA filter. The filter will catch pollen and other allergens so they won't end up in your air.
- If you have central air conditioning, buy filters designed to trap allergens, and be sure to change the filter as often as the manufacturer recommends. If you have a window unit, clean the filter weekly.
- If you can't afford an air conditioning unit or you really want to open a window, try placing a HEPA filter in front of the open window to help filter out allergens.
Use an air purifier in your room.For added air filtration in your sleeping space, consider using a room-sized air purification unit. These help remove all sorts of allergens from the air, including pollen, dust, and pet dander.
- Most air purifiers are only meant to work in small spaces, so keep your bedroom door shut for the best results.
Keep your room clean.In order to prevent allergens from accumulating in your bedroom and keeping you up at night, it's important to keep your home nice and clean. Be sure to dust and vacuum regularly.
- Vacuum your mattress as well, as allergens are known to collect there.
Minimize soft surfaces.Allergens like pollen can get embedded in fabrics and other soft surfaces. While you may not be able to eliminate all of these surfaces from your home, it's best to keep them to a minimum in your bedroom so that your air can stay as clean as possible while you sleep.
- Remove any stuffed animals from your room.
- Carpet may also harbor allergens, so consider replacing yours with hard flooring.
Avoid bringing the outside into bed with you.You may have collected a lot of allergens on your body during the day, and the last thing you want is to transfer them into your bed. Do your best to remove any traces of pollen and other allergens from yourself before you go into your bedroom.
- Shower before bed every night during allergy season.
- Ideally, you should remove the clothes that you wore outside before going into your bedroom. If possible, keep them in the bathroom or laundry room until you are able to wash them.
Keep your pets out.Even if you aren't allergic to animals, your pets may be worsening your allergy symptoms at night. This is because they can drag all sorts of other allergens, including pollen, into your room. To avoid this, do your best to make your bedroom an animal-free zone.
- If you can't keep your pets out of your bedroom, at least keep them out of your bed.
- If your pets must sleep in your bed, make sure to bathe them regularly to get rid of any allergens they might have picked up.
Use protective covers on beds.Exposure to dust mites can make your symptoms from seasonal allergies worse. To prevent dust mites from inhabiting your mattress and pillows, use allergy-proof covers on them.
- Covers should zip tight so that mites have no way of accessing the mattress or pillow.
Clearing Your Sinuses Before Bed
Clean your nasal passages.Allergens can get trapped in the mucus membrane of your nasal passages, which can cause continuous symptoms. Get rid of them by rinsing out your nasal passages with a saline solution.
- You can use store-bought saline nasal sprays, which are preferable because they are sterile and have the correct ratio of salt to water — too much salt can burn your nostrils.
- You can also make your own solution by adding 1/2 teaspoons of pickling or kosher salt to two cups of warm water (cold water will shock your system and may make you dizzy). Make certain the water has been boiled for at least one minute, then allowed to cool to a tolerable temperature, or that you buy water that specifically states it has been distilled or is sterile. Otherwise you put yourself at risk for introducing (sometimes deadly) contaminates into your body.
- Use a small bulb syringe to insert the solution into each nostril (no deeper than the width of your finger). Do this while standing over a sink, as the solution will drip from your nostrils.
- You can also try using a Neti pot to cleanse your sinuses.
Try eucalyptus.Eucalyptus is excellent for clearing the sinuses. Try adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your loofah or washcloth when you shower at night.
- Avoid getting it in your eyes, as it will sting.
- Making your shower nice and steamy should help clear your sinuses as well.
Try herbal tea.Drinking a warm mug of herbal tea before bed is also an excellent way to clear out your sinuses. Make sure it's caffeine-free to avoid disrupting your sleep.
- If you don't like herbal tea, hot water with lemon will work too.
Treating Your Allergies
Make lifestyle changes.It may sound strange that lifestyle changes can affect your allergy symptoms, but it's true. Taking good care of yourself and protecting your immune system can help decrease the severity of your allergy symptoms.
- Reduce stress as much as possible. High levels of stress wreak havoc on the immune system, which can make your allergy symptoms worse.
- Eat foods that fight inflammation and boost the immune system. Nuts, apples, garlic, fish, yogurt, and fermented foods like sauerkraut are all excellent choices.
Choose the right OTC antihistamine.Some antihistamines, especially those that also contain decongestants, can disrupt your sleep. If you want to use an OTC allergy medication, be sure to choose one that will not prevent you from falling asleep.
- Loratadine and fexofenadine will not disrupt your sleep.
Be proactive with your medication.Allergy medications are more effective at preventing allergy symptoms than they are at treating symptoms. If you know you are going to be around your allergen, take your medication early. You will have a more pleasant day and a much better night than you will if you wait until you are suffering to take your medicine.
- If you have symptoms every day during allergy season, take your antihistamine every day.
Avoid overusing nasal sprays.While some allergy medicines are meant to be taken every day, most over-the-counter nasal sprays are meant to be used for short periods of time only. Overusing them can lead to nasal inflammation, which can make you feel more congested.
- Saline nasal sprays are safe to use frequently and are safe for children.
- Decongestant nasal sprays (oxymetazoline, xylometazoline, phenylephrine, and naphazoline nasal sprays) should not be used for longer than three days unless advised by your doctor. Overuse of these sprays can cause "rebound congestion," in which your congestion returns worse than before.
- Previously prescription-only corticosteroid nasal sprays (fluticasone) are available over-the-counter and are meant for long-term use. Start using a corticosteroid spray at the beginning of allergy season — even before you have symptoms — and use daily.
- If you don't see improvement, consult your doctor and make sure you let her know which sprays you have been using.
Make an appointment with an allergist.An allergist is a doctor who specializes in treating patients with allergies. If your allergies are not well-managed with over-the-counter treatments, make an appointment with one to get a customized treatment plan.
- An allergist can identify exactly what you are allergic to, which can be helpful in choosing the correct treatment.
- Your allergist may prescribe a prescription allergy medication.
Ask your doctor about allergy shots.For some allergy sufferers, allergy shots provide much better relief than other treatments. If nothing else has worked for your allergies, ask your doctor if this may be a good treatment option for you.
- Allergy shots typically provide relief for the entire allergy season.
Try immunotherapy.Immunotherapy is another treatment option for people who suffer from severe allergies. The treatment involves gradually introducing small amounts of your allergen into your body, so that you become more tolerant of it.
- This kind of treatment may take years to be fully effective, but for many it is well worth the commitment.
- Immunotherapy is not available for all allergens, but it is available for grass and ragweed, which are two of the most common seasonal allergens.
Video: Tips to ease your seasonal allergies
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