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Sleep Tips

Allergies? Maybe your Pillow is to Blame

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Unfortunately for many, the answer to this children’s rhyme is no laughing matter: severe allergies. May is National Asthma & Allergy Awareness month, as it’s a peak season for allergy and asthma sufferers. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma affects approximately 25.9 million Americans, and more than 50 million Americans suffer from different types of allergies. They have a list of common indoor causes of allergies, and pillows make the list.

You likely spend about one-third of your day sleeping (if you’re lucky), and while you may feel safe and sound in your room, your sleep environment can have a significant impact on your overall health, especially when it comes to allergies. Do you have symptoms of allergies that you think are caused by your pillows? You're not alone.

The easiest way to reduce exposure to dust mites is by washing your pillow. Dust mites accumulate in your pillow and exacerbate allergy symptoms. The best way to rid your bedroom of allergens is to wash your bedding often, and while many people do a good job of this when it comes to their sheets and pillow cases, pillows are often neglected. If you are one of these individuals, don’t feel bad, you’re not alone!

Allergies & Your Pillow: Fast Facts

  • 1 in 4 people know that pillows should be replaced every two years, but wait longer to replace them.
  • 1 in 5 people have never washed their pillow
  • 70% of people are not absolutely comfortable showing their naked pillow to others

Mattress Firm recently conducted a survey asking 1,000 people about their pillow habits and their allergy issues. The survey suggests that while almost 90% of people wash their sheets one to three times per month, 20% have never washed their pillows, and nearly 45% only wash their pillows once a year. Furthermore, while nearly 70% of individuals surveyed said a comfortable pillow is important to getting a good night’s rest, many of them are keeping their pillows much longer than the recommended two-year time limit. Unfortunately, this means that most of us are sleeping on pillows that are no longer fluffy, and are full of dust mites, sweat, dead skin and other allergens.

If you are like 80% of respondents who indicated that they struggle with allergies, experts recommend that you purchase dust mite-proof sheets and pillow covers, and make sure to wash your pillow every three to six months in hot water with liquid detergent. If you have a memory foam pillow, this advice doesn’t apply to you since memory foam pillows are antimicrobial and don’t need to be washed. But if you are using a pillow that is not memory foam, you should make sure to wash it regularly.

By making this a healthy sleep habit, you will keep dust mites out of your pillow, and eliminate the allergens that cause you to wake up with nasal congestion and itchy eyes. This simple fix can greatly improve your sleep environment, help to improve your overall well-being, and allow you to more fully enjoy those essential eight hours of sleep.

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