If you’re one of the 20 to 50 percent of Americans who has allergies, you know that they don’t always just affect you during the day—the congestion and other symptoms can make it tough for you to get quality sleep at night.
Why the connection? When you breathe in something that you’re allergic to, the allergen irritates your nasal passage, leading to congestion, sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. It can be difficult to sleep with those kinds of symptoms, which is why people who have allergies tend to have worse sleep. The more severe your symptoms, the lower the quality of your shuteye is likely to be.
To help improve your sleep, you have to rid your home of whatever it is you’re allergic to. Here are four of the top culprits to look out for.
- Dust mites: If you have dust in your home, then you likely have dust mites. And unfortunately, one of their favorite places to call home is your bed and pillows (dust mites feed off the dead skin cells that you shed while you sleep). Adding a simple dust mite cover to your mattress and pillows can work wonders, as can regularly washing your bedding in hot water.
- Mold: Dampness can lead to mold, which is especially important to know if your bedroom has an attached bathroom. Avoid this by keeping the air moving in your bathroom—whether it’s by using the exhaust fan or opening a window.
- Pet dander: Whether you have a cat or a dog, flakes of their dead skin—called pet dander—can be a common allergen. One of the best ways to avoid this is to keep your pet off furniture (especially your bed) and to vacuum regularly. A weekly bath and brushing for your furry friend can also reduce dander in the home.
- Pollen: This allergen tends to peak seasonally in the spring and the fall. While you might need to take allergy medications to reduce symptoms, keep in mind that pseudoephedrine can keep you awake and antihistamines can make you drowsy during the day.