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Sleep Tips

8 Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep During Allergy Season

Seasonal allergies can ruin your day with a nagging runny nose or a steady case of sniffles. They can also ruin your night by preventing you from getting the sleep you need.

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Senior woman kneeling in garden, holding seedling
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During spring and early summer, pollen from trees, grass and flowers enter the nasal passageways of allergy sufferers. This triggers the release of a chemical that causes watery eyes, sneezing and nasal congestion, all of which interfere with your sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Because spring is the peak season for airborne allergens for many people, May has been declared National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month.

If symptoms caused by your allergies are causing you to lose sleep, try these tips:

  1. Although it’s tempting to open your windows and let the balmy spring air freshen your room, it’s best to keep pollen at bay by closing your windows and using an air conditioner with a HEPA filter, according to the Baylor College of Medicine . If an air conditioner doesn’t fit in your budget, you can buy a HEPA filter and fit it over your bedroom window screen to keep allergens out.
  2. Shower and wash your hair before you get into bed to rid yourself of unwanted pollen, recommends everydayhealth.com, and launder any clothing that’s been outdoors before bringing it into your bedroom.
  3. Treat your allergy symptoms with over-the counter medications so you can get a full night’s sleep. According to WebMD, there are two types of medications that provide relief for nighttime allergies -- antihistamines help alleviate sneezing and itchy eyes, while decongestants relieve nasal congestion. Nose sprays are typically inhaled nasal steroids and combine both types of medication. Some physicians recommend starting to use these medications several weeks before the onset of allergy season to help prevent symptoms from occurring.
  4. Planning ahead can help you mitigate your nighttime allergy symptoms. Visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau website to check your region’s pollen count. Pollen levels spike when the weather is warm, dry and windy, so stay inside as much as possible on those days.
  5. The Huffington Post recommends washing your bed linens in hot water at least once a week to rid them of pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and other allergens. A mattress protector will help to prevent allergens from getting into your mattress and pillows.
  6. If you like to garden, the Dr. Oz show suggests you use a face mask and gloves as well as wear large sunglasses to prevent pollen from reaching your eyes and nose. If you plant flowers, remember that daisies, sunflowers, zinnias, dahlias and chrysanthemums tend to aggravate allergy symptoms. Instead, try periwinkles, begonias, iris and bougainvillea, which are less likely to bother allergy sufferers.
  7. Exercise is important for overall health (which leads to great sleep), but running outdoors in the morning can exacerbate your allergies during the spring and early summer. Trees and grasses release pollen starting at sunrise and peaking in late morning. By avoiding strenuous outdoor exercise during the first part of the day, especially on days with high pollen counts, you will be exposed to fewer allergens and better able to manage your allergy symptoms at night.
  8. If you take precautions to avoid pollen and use over-the-counter medications but still can’t sleep well, see a medical professional. According to the National Institutes of Health, untreated allergy symptoms cause sleep deprivation, which in turn alters immune function, making you even more vulnerable to allergy triggers.

Don’t forget about the importance of regularly washing the items on your bed, including your pillow. Learning to deal with your allergy symptoms can help you sleep better, but you also need a mattress that’s comfortable and allows you to sleep in the optimal position. It’s possible that just raising your head position a few inches could help to reduce your nasal congestion. If you toss and turn all night or experience muscle aches when you wake up, you may need to replace your mattress.

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