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How Seasonal Allergies Affect Your Sleep

September 22, 2022
How Seasonal Allergies Affect Your Sleep | Sleep Reset
How Seasonal Allergies Affect Your Sleep

It’s always nice to come out of those cold and dark winter months and start enjoying the longer, warmer spring days. Unfortunately, during this time of year, many people suffer from allergic rhinitis, commonly known as allergies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 60 million Americans struggle with annoying allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and congestion, all of which can make life really unpleasant.

Of course, seasonal allergies not only affect your ability to function throughout the day, but they can also cause issues at night. Allergy symptoms can make it hard to sleep and often lead to common long-term sleep issues, especially for those who struggle with allergies year-round.

If you’ve found that your allergies make it nearly impossible to get a good night’s sleep, you’re no doubt frustrated and ready to find a solution. We can help! Let’s dive right in and explore this all-too-common issue to help you start getting better sleep.

How Allergies Relate to Sleep

For those with allergies, exposure to certain triggers like pet dander, pollen, or dust mites can produce uncomfortable symptoms. Usually, allergy symptoms include things like runny or stuffy nose, watery and itchy eyes, sneezing, and even coughing or sore throat. Untreated allergy symptoms will continue on into the night, which can cause major sleep issues — not to mention that nasal congestion is often worse at night, making it very difficult to breathe and sleep well.

Also, many people don’t think of their bed as a possible trigger for allergy symptoms, but this is often the case! Dust mites, pet dander, and other common irritants can easily make their way to your bedding and pillows, which can make your allergy symptoms flare up when you climb into bed at night. This is especially true if you let your furry pals sleep with you. Washing your bedding regularly can help reduce your allergy symptoms, but it isn’t likely to get rid of them completely.

Most people who have been diagnosed with allergies take daily medication during certain times of the year to reduce and prevent symptoms. Although these medications can be very helpful during the daytime, certain allergy medications can interfere with sleep. As a result, some people might experience insomnia, frequent nighttime awakenings, or excessive drowsiness during the day.

Remedies for Allergy Symptoms

Sleep disturbances caused by allergy symptoms can lead to all kinds of problems, including poor mental health, ongoing fatigue, and reduced performance at work or school. Fortunately, there are strategies to deal with allergies. Some of the most common remedies to tackle those pesky symptoms include the following.

  • Nonprescription medications: Many people take oral antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, and combination medicines to manage allergy symptoms. Although these over-the-counter drugs can be highly effective, they can have some side effects, and you have to take them every day to get relief.
  • Rinsing out sinuses: You can also use a neti pot or a nasal rinsing squeeze bottle to rinse out your nasal passages with saline solution. This process flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose, providing short-term relief from allergy symptoms. You can pick up a neti pot or squeeze bottle from your local pharmacy or health food store. Just be sure to use sterile, distilled water that you’ve boiled and cooled.
  • Allergy immunotherapy: This is a type of long-term treatment for allergies. Allergists usually provide allergy immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or mouth sprays. When you get allergy shots weekly or use the mouth spray daily, your body eventually develops a tolerance to the allergens over time, ultimately reducing or even eliminating your allergy symptoms.

In addition to the remedies listed above, you can implement the following tips into your daily routine to reduce your exposure to allergens and other triggers.

  • Watch the weather: Avoid going outside on extremely dry or windy days if you can. Your allergies are likely to flare up in this type of weather.
  • Have someone else in your household do lawn care duties: Mowing the lawn, gardening, or pulling weeds are all activities that will increase your exposure to allergens and make your symptoms worse. If no one else in your household will take on these tasks, consider hiring a professional or wear a pollen mask while you do the outdoor chores.
  • Vacuum often: Clean your floors regularly and be sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter to collect and contain allergens, dust mites, and other small particles that can cause your allergies to flare up. If you have pets, you should vacuum even more frequently.

How to Avoid Losing Sleep During Allergy Season

Allergy symptoms are often worse at night, which can lead to poor sleep quality during allergy season. If you’re waking up all night because you’re sneezing and coughing, or you can’t fall asleep because your nose is stuffy and you can’t breathe, you’re much more likely to experience daily fatigue. As a result, your quality of life will be worse and you’ll generally feel unwell.

To avoid losing sleep during allergy season, it’s important to seek out help from your primary physician or an allergist and implement the lifestyle changes discussed in this article. Taking precautions to limit your exposure to allergens will go a long way in helping you sleep at night.

If you’re still struggling with sleep issues caused by allergy symptoms, you may need to team up with an allergy doctor and a sleep expert to find solutions to treat the co-occurring issues.

Sleep Tips to Practice This Spring

Don’t suffer through your allergy symptoms and have sleep problems again this spring! Instead, try some of these sleep tips to start getting better quality sleep and more of it.

  • Sleep with an air purifier: Research shows using an air purifier at night can improve sleep quality among people with and without allergies. Many allergens are airborne, including pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold, and many of these irritants are also found in bedding and mattresses. An air purifier works to remove these irritating particles from the air in your bedroom and promote better quality sleep and longer sleep cycles.

There are many types of air purifiers out there. When you shop for one, consider factors like the cost of replacement filters, energy efficiency, room size guidelines, consumer reports and certifications, and the amount of noise it will produce when it’s running. 

  • Keep windows closed while you sleep: Although it can feel nice to sleep with a cool nighttime breeze coming through your windows, it’s not great for allergies and can actually keep you awake. Essentially, you’re just inviting all those allergens and irritating particles into your home while you sleep. Instead, keep your windows closed while you sleep and use your air conditioning to stay cool instead.
  • Have pets sleep in a separate room: We get it. Snuggling with your dog or cat at night is the best, but it could also be one of the main causes of your allergies and sleep issues. Many people with allergies are sensitive to pet dander, which your bed is likely full of if your pet regularly sleeps with you. If you’re tired of dealing with allergy symptoms at night, consider making a nice comfortable bed for your pet somewhere else in the house and keep your bedroom pet-free. Doing so will greatly limit your exposure to allergens at night and may improve your sleep quality.
  • Take a shower or bath before bed: If you don’t already bathe or shower before you head to bed, make it a nightly routine. Taking off your clothes and rinsing the pollen and other allergens out of your hair and off your skin can help reduce allergy symptoms at night.
  • Talk to your doctor: If nothing seems to be working, talk to your doctor or an experienced allergist about other possible solutions. You may also need to simultaneously work with a sleep doctor to uncover the root causes of your sleep problems, whether that’s allergies or a combination of things.

Do People With Allergies Have Sleep Disorders?

Not all people with allergies have sleep disorders, but many do. And the worse the allergies are, the more severe the sleep issues are likely to be. According to some studies, people with allergies are more than twice as likely to have insomnia than those without allergies. 

Allergy symptoms are also very likely to cause other types of sleep issues, including:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Shorter duration of sleep
  • More snoring
  • Increased risk of sleep apnea

If allergies go untreated, sleep issues can worsen and lead to more complex issues in the long run. For example, chronic insomnia due to allergies can lead to depression, mood disorders, substance abuse issues, and problems with concentration and memory.

Take Our Sleep Assessment!

If you’ve tried all the remedies and treatments for allergies and you still can’t sleep, the root cause of your sleep issues might be something else. Sleep Reset can help you identify the cause of your sleep issues and provide a pill-free, personalized treatment program that will help you get the sleep your body needs. 

Stop tossing and turning throughout the night. Take our expert-designed sleep assessment today to get started with your customized science-backed sleep program!

Disclaimer: The information provided on this page should not be taken as medical advice and should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Always consult your physician before taking any new medication(s) or altering your current dosage.

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