Why Are My Allergies Worse at Night?
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Allergies may negatively impact your life during the day. But nighttime allergies can be even worse since they may affect your sleep. Nighttime allergies occur because many allergy triggers exist where you sleep each night.
Let’s take a look at common nighttime allergies and how best to treat and avoid them.
Five Reasons Your Allergies Are Worse at Night
Your allergies may also be seasonal or year-round, but typically, symptoms will stem from exposure to an allergy trigger or an existing condition like asthma. Here are some common reasons your allergy symptoms may be worse at night.
Dust mites are the most common trigger for respiratory allergies. Research shows they’re challenging to remove from the sleep environment and might cause sleep disruptions. Exposure leads to a mild or severe allergic reaction and may also exacerbate asthma.
Dust mites are tiny pests that feed on dead skin cells. They commonly live in bedding, pillows, and furniture found in the bedroom. The American Lung Association estimates four out of five homes in the United States have dust mites in at least one bed.
Seeds and plants produce dust called pollen. If you’re allergic to pollen, you may notice increased symptoms such as nasal congestion, itchy throat at night, and frequent sleep disruptions.
Many people believe they can avoid pollen exposure by keeping their windows and doors shut while staying inside. But recent research shows that pollen is still an exposure risk at night. Pollen’s ability to travel long distances and sudden weather changes like heavy rainfall may increase your exposure risk even more.
If your allergies worsen at night, mold may be the culprit. You can’t see mold spores, but they float through the air indoors and outdoors. They grow and land on wet surfaces in your kitchen or bathroom. If your bedroom is close to one of these rooms, the risk of exposure increases.
Mildew is a typical type of mold you might find in your home. Inhaling its spores lead to an allergic reaction in some people, most commonly in summer and fall, but may be year-round in warmer climates.
Approximately 10 to 20 percent of the world’s population is affected by allergies to dogs or cats. You may also be allergic to other animals, like rabbits and horses. An animal’s dander, saliva, and urine could trigger an allergic reaction inside your body.
If you sleep with your pet or they lay on your bed, you may experience symptoms like runny nose and eye swelling at night. But some people are more sensitive than others to pets. For some, a reaction might come from the animal simply living in your home. If your allergy symptoms worsen at night, sleeping with your pet on the bed could be the problem.
Illnesses tend to feel the worst when you’re trying to fall asleep. The same goes for allergies. But, of course, you might not pay as much attention to your symptoms as you’re busy throughout the day. When you don’t have distractions when you’re falling asleep, though, those itchy eyes and throat can be .
Research shows a strong connection between circadian rhythms and allergies. That’s why symptoms of allergic rhinitis, like runny nose and congestion, are worse overnight and early morning.
How to Ease Nighttime Allergies
Dealing with the sniffles when it’s time to go to sleep? No worries. There are ways to help ease your nighttime allergies.
Prevent dust mites
You might consider purchasing dust-mite-proof covers for your:
If your allergies are severe enough, you might need to replace old pillows and your mattress. Another tip is to wash your bedding weekly or even every few days. Finally, routinely sweeping and vacuuming is another great way to prevent dust mites.
Keep Pets Out of the Bedroom
Finding a cozy place for your pet to sleep outside the bedroom might help. Even if you’re not allergic to their dander, pets can bring pollen and mold spores onto your bed. It may be best to shut your bedroom door, just in case they’re temped to join you after you’re asleep.
Shut Windows and Doors
Closing your windows and doors prevents pollen and other outdoor allergens from entering your bedroom. So, when allergens are at their highest, it’s better to rely on air conditioning instead of natural air.
Another idea is to clean any mold or condensation from window and door frames and sills. Double-paned windows are better if you live in cooler climates.
Use a Humidifier or Dehumidifier
A humidifier or dehumidifier may help your nighttime allergies. It all depends on which allergen triggers your symptoms.
For example, if the dry air in the winter leaves your nasal passages dry and irritated, a humidifier might help. But if you’re allergic to dust mites or mold, more moisture is the last thing you need.
Both mold and dust mites thrive in moisture. So, a humidifier might create the ideal environment for them to grow, leading to nighttime allergy symptoms.
If you do use a humidifier, consider the following tips:
- Keep the humidity level between 40-50%.
- Clean and change the filter regularly.
- Read the manufacturer’s guide on how best to clean the humidifier.
- Use distilled or demineralized water in the humidifier to avoid increased bacteria growth.
If you’re experiencing humid weather, a dehumidifier may help. A great way to prevent exposure to mold and other allergens is by dehumidifying the air to less than 50 percent. A lower humidity level in the bedroom reduces your risk of breathing in allergens.
Medication and Allergy Shots
Consider taking an antihistamine at bedtime to treat your nighttime allergy symptoms. Steroids are also commonly used. Each is available as a tablet, nasal spray, and even injections purchased over the counter or by prescription. Lotions and creams treat allergic skin reactions.
Similar to vaccines, allergy shots provide allergen-specific immunotherapy. After your allergist determines your triggers through skin or blood testing, they create a serum to help desensitize your reaction to them. With time, your body should stop reacting to the allergen.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is allergy season?
Spring allergies typically begin in February until early summer in the United States. Tree pollen tends to rise at the beginning of the year, with grass pollen growing later in spring and summer.
But it all depends on where you live. For example, tropical climates experience grass pollination most of the year. On the other hand, a milder winter might lead plants to pollinate earlier.
Can allergies make you tired?
Nighttime allergies affect the quality of your sleep. For example, if sneezing and itchy eyes keep you from getting much-needed rest, you might feel tired during the day. Also, an allergic reaction may cause the body to release certain chemicals that cause fatigue and drowsiness.
How can I calm my allergies down at night?
It may be as simple as washing your bedding and shutting your door at night to help alleviate your symptoms. But you may also need to take medication or undergo allergy injections. Consider speaking with your doctor to decide together what’s best for your nighttime allergy symptoms.
Allergies are troublesome enough during the day. But it may be time to make some changes when they start affecting your sleep quality. Allergens like pet dander and dust mites are manageable by refreshing your bedding or finding a cozy place for your pet to sleep outside the bedroom. But some allergies are severe enough to require more drastic measures like medication or immunotherapy. Practicing good sleep hygiene is another way to ensure a successful night’s rest.
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