When you have allergies and experience their symptoms at night, falling asleep can be a challenge. A stuffy nose that can lead to snoring, breathing is difficult, and waking up with a scratchy, sore throat is uncomfortable. Add postnasal drip, watery eyes, sinus pressure and headaches to the mix, and you feel like you’re in the middle of a never-ending nightmare.
Of course, you’re not alone in your suffering. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people with allergies often suffer from sleep problems, leading them to experience daytime fatigue, a decline in school or work performance, and even depression. And if you have sleep apnea, having allergies can exasperate the symptoms.
Ways to Get Good Sleep During Allergy Season
Before you turn to the nighttime allergy medicine, there are things you can try first to help you sleep.
- Invest in anti-allergy bedding. Anti-allergy bedding helps to stop dust, pollen, and dirt from getting into your mattress because it uses technologically advanced fabrics. It's usually a good idea to skip wool and feather-type bedding that harbors more dust and dirt than synthetic fibers. And, you can't wash this type of bedding as easily either.
- Keep your pets out of your bed. The family dog or cat is another big allergy offender. In addition to being allergic to your pet's dander, they also can bring pollen, dust mites, and mold into your bedroom.
- Take a shower before lights out. Shower before you get into your bed for the night. Showering helps wash the pollen off your body and out of your hair leading to a more pollen-free bed.
- Wash out your sinuses. Sinuses, allergies, and headaches seem to go hand in hand. Try using a Neti Pot or some other type of sinus rinse solutions before you go to bed each night to remove excess mucus and clear your sinuses of allergy-causing particles.
- Change your sleeping position. Your lack of sleep with allergies could also be due to the position you sleep in. With seasonal allergies, you can prevent a flare up and alleviate sinus pain by changing your sleeping position. If you're looking to drain your nose and throat of congestion, try tucking a few pillows under your upper back and head and sleep in an upright position. This position will help you breathe better.
- Replace bedroom carpeting for tile, vinyl, or wood flooring. If you must have carpet in the bedroom, vacuum and clean it often. While you're at it, replace curtains with blinds or roll up shades.
- Add a HEPA filter to the bedroom. These High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance filters remove allergens in the air. To be labeled as a "HEPA" filter, the filter must capture a minimum of 97 percent of particles that are larger than 0.3 µm (microns, or micrometers). You can run these during the day with the door closed to have a clean air to breath at night.
Pillow Tips for Allergy Sufferers
The older your pillows are, the more skin cells, dust, body oils and sweat get trapped inside them. If you're among the 20 million people in the U.S. who are allergic to dust mites, you're only worsening your allergies by sleeping on old pillows. Some experts suggest you replace your pillow every six months.
If you can’t replace your pillow every six months, consider purchasing a zippered pillow cover, which can help protect your pillow from dust mites and other allergens. Wash the zippered protector every three weeks and the pillow itself every three months.
In the end, allergy season for many people doesn't last the entire year, but long enough to be considered an extended bad dream. Use the above sleep help tips for allergy sufferers to get you through this allergy season well-rested.