When Allergies Threaten Your Sleep: 17 Tips for a Good Night’s Rest
Spring is here, and the desert is in full bloom! Though it makes for beautiful scenery, it can wreak havoc on one’s allergies.
Allergies, or allergic rhinitis, strikes when allergens in the air are breathed in by someone that is allergic to them, irritating and inflaming their nasal passages. It can occur year-round in some people, or only seasonally in others. Seasonal allergies are typically caused by airborne particles that come from grass, trees, ragweed, flower pollen, or outdoor mold. Year-round allergy sufferers are usually affected by indoor substances like pet dander, indoor mold, and dust mites in bedding, mattresses, and carpeting. For people who are allergic to them, these particles trigger the release of a chemical in the body that causes congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. Each of these symptoms can make it difficult to fall asleep and/or stay asleep at night. Thus, the sufferer finds they are suffering from significant daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
As you well know, getting adequate sleep on a regular basis is essential to maintaining physical and mental health. It is vital to one’s performance, safety, and overall well-being.
Use these 17 helpful tips to fight allergies the next time they threaten your sleep:
Use antihistamines. Try newer products like Allegra, Clarinex, Claritin, and Zyrtec which don’t cause dry mouth and sinuses, and foggy head. First-generation, older antihistamines like Benadryl, Sominex, and Vicks Nyquil may make you drowsy, but they interfere with sleep quality.
Nasal irrigation. When airborne allergens like dust and mold get stuck in the membrane of your nasal passage, your nose becomes swollen and clogged. Nasal irrigation is a great remedy for this. You can buy a neti pot from a local drug store and follow the directions included. A plastic bulb syringe or squeeze bottle can also be used with warm water and a ½ teaspoon of non-iodized salt. Follow the procedure at least once a day. Be sure to wash the container well after each use. Also, treat it much as you would a toothbrush. Everyone should have their own nasal irrigation product. It may take some getting used to, but it’s a highly effective solution for cleaning out allergens and preventing sinus infections. Great tips for neti pot use can be found here.
Saline nasal sprays. Using a (un-medicated) saline nasal spray is another option for washing out your nasal passages and providing relief to your sinuses.
Nasal decongestant sprays. For temporary relief, a nose spray such as Afrin can be used. It and other nasal vasoconstriction nose sprays are not meant to be used for more than a period of three days. If you plan on using nasal decongestants, it is better to get a prescription from your doctor for something like Flonase.
Inhaling steam. Tried and true, steam inhalation is great for relieving clogged sinuses. Add herbs and/or essential oils to steaming water, keep your face about eight inches from the water with a towel over your head forming a sort of tent. Breathe in the steam for about 10 minutes.
Warm compress. Use a hot, wet washcloth placed over your nose and sinuses to reduce pressure and get some much-needed relief.
Warm shower with eucalyptus. Turn on your shower and fill your bathroom with steam. Add a few drops of oil of eucalyptus on a washcloth with unscented soap and wash your entire body. (Be sure to keep it out of your eyes.) Breathing in the oil will clear your sinuses as well as soothe and moisturize your throat. Showering before bed is also a great way to keep pollen out of your bedroom.
Keep windows closed in the early morning. Prime pollen distribution occurs between 5 and 10 am.
Use an allergy mask. If you suffer from severe allergies, you may want to consider wearing an allergy mask when performing outdoor activities to prevent an attack.
Scald the wash. Wash your clothes and bedding weekly in hot water to remove dust mites, dander, and pollen. Rinse two or three times.
Use the dryer. During allergy season, avoid drying clothes and sheets outdoors on the line as it can allow pollens to gather on them.
Vacuum often. To reduce dust mites and other allergens in the home, vacuum rugs, carpets, and blinds weekly, especially in the bedrooms. If you can, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Use the A/C. Keep windows closed to keep allergens out. Check and change the filters at least every three months. Living in the Arizona desert means there is a little more dust in the air, so you may need to change it more frequently than that. It’s not a bad idea to check the filter monthly. If you can, purchase HEPA filters as they are the most effective in trapping allergens.
Use an HEPA air purifier in the bedroom. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Allergy & Immunology, doctors recommend HEPA air filtration systems to reduce exposure to indoor asthma triggers. This air purifier captures 99.97 percent of airborne particles, as small as .3 microns in size, such as dust mites, debris, mold spores, plant pollens, and pet dander.
Keep your pets out of the bedroom. Many people are allergic to pet dander without even realizing it. For a good night’s sleep keep pets out of the bed, or even more effectively, the bedroom.
Buy mattress and pillow covers. Allergy-proof mattress and pillow covers don’t run cheap, but they are worth every cent. Especially pillow covers. These mite-proof covers assure that the little pests can’t interfere with your sleep.
See your doctor. If these home remedies aren’t working, and you can’t figure out the source(s) of your allergies, see your doctor. They can help determine what is affecting you and prescribe medication as well as recommend other effective avoidance measures. If, after you see your primary physician, you are still having problems, you may want to inquire about seeing an allergy specialist. They can perform a series of blood and skin tests to pinpoint exactly what allergens are affecting you, and how severely. Then they can offer a treatment plan.
We hope that using these tips will help with the allergy symptoms keeping you awake at night- robbing you of the quality sleep you need and deserve.
If you have been treating your allergies and still find that you are having trouble sleeping through the night or feeling rested, then you may benefit from a visit to Valley Sleep Center. Call one of our five convenient Valley locations today to schedule your sleep consult.