I’ve had allergies my entire life, and was even one of those unlucky kids who had to get a weekly allergy shot. Living in the North, I loved when winter would finally lose its grip to spring, but it also meant something sinister would show up as well; my seasonal allergies!
Of course, I did manage to find a couple of upsides to my annual rite of misery. For one, I had the only window air conditioning unit in our house growing up! My poor sisters had to wallow away in heat and humidity down the hall while I slept cool and comfortable in my mini-refrigerator of a bedroom.
The second advantage was that I pretty much had a free pass to go up to my grandparent’s cottage whenever I wanted. Further north, the lake they lived on was surrounded by pine trees and open water; almost devoid of the tons of pollen and nasty weeds surrounding me at home.
No matter what, however, the allergies were always there. I would sneeze and cough and drip my way through just about every day during allergy season. Sleeping peacefully at night was (and sometimes still is) a challenge, and I know millions of others share the same fate!
So I’ve taken the time to put together some of the top tips for actually getting a good night’s rest when you’re spending the day sneezing and feeling miserable. Let’s take a look at what you can do to get some zzz’s during allergy season:
#1 Close the Windows.
This one is painful for a lot of people that love listening to the sounds of nature (or maybe the city) at night, or love to feel a gentle evening breeze. The truth is, that gentle breeze is full of pollen and other allergens, and you need to put a stop to it! So close up those windows during allergy season.
#2 Use Air Conditioning.
Again, many people prefer to avoid using air conditioning when they can simply crack open some windows to remain cool at night. So first, revisit #1 above about closing windows. Second, try to use the air conditioning if you have it. If your house isn’t equipped with A/C, then consider purchasing a single-room window-based unit. They can be purchased relatively inexpensively from most of the big box stores.
#3 Use a Dehumidifier.
Most of things that make you sneeze; mold, mildew, bacteria, and dust mites, all love warm, moist air. So get rid of the warm, moist air! We’ve already covered using air conditioning, so we have the warm air part covered. A dehumidifier will help to remove some of the moisture and keep those little allergens from thriving. Of course, having the air too dry can cause other issues such as dry throats, itchy skin, and more. If you feel the air is just too dry, you can try using a cool mist humidifier to help balance things out.
4. Keep the air inside clean.
So you’ve kept the windows closed, and are using an air conditioner. The last part of the air equation is the quality of the air already inside of your house. If you can afford to install a whole-house air filtration system, go for it! Most people can’t take on that kind of expense, but fear not. The first step is to regularly replace the filter in your HVAC (heating and air conditioning) system. Spending a couple extra bucks on a HEPA filter can be well worth it to the allergy sufferer. You can even go so far as to purchase a small room air filtration unit and run it on low when you’re sleeping. During the day or while you’re away, crank the in-room filter up to high if you want to help remove as many allergens from the air as possible!
#5 Shower in the Evening.
If you’ve been outside during the day then you’ve probably collected a fine assortment of mold spores, pollen, pet dander, and various other sneeze-inducing items. Taking a shower in the evening can give you a sort of “clean slate” before bedtime. Furthermore, a hot steamy shower can help ease any stuffiness as well!
#6 Wear Pajamas.
We don’t mean you have to go out and purchase some fancy footy pajamas or anything (unless you really want to), but changing clothes before bed can help. For much the same reasons we recommend taking a shower in the evening, take the opportunity to put on a fresh set of clothes before bed as well. That way you’re not taking all of the allergens your clothes have collected throughout the day to bed with you.
#7 Keep Your Bedding Clean.
Quick quiz; when’s the last time you actually washed the comforter on your bed? Can’t remember? Well, then you’re probably way overdue for a trip to the laundromat to wash your comforter! No matter how hard you try, your bedding will still collect pollen, dust mites, and other allergens. You really need to regularly wash all of your bedding (sheets, pillow cases, blankets, comforters, etc) in the hottest water allowed on the care instructions, and then dry them at high heat (again, follow the care instructions). Oh, and please use the dryer! Avoid the clothes line (sorry, we know its more environmentally friendly) as the outside air will simply fill your bedding back up with allergens. These steps will help remove all of the nasty little things that can keep you up at night sneezing!
#8 Consider Purchasing Anti-Allergen Bedding and Mattresses.
There are a number of good products (and some not-so-good) on the market today that help reduce the number of allergens on your bedding. Most do this by being constructed of very tightly woven polyester or cotton that doesn’t allow allergens to embed or penetrate the surface. These products DO NOT prevent or remove allergens, they simply make it harder for them to collect! Ultimately you need to keep up with a regular washing regimen in order for these products to be effective. A number of places, such as Good Housekeeping, have done reviews on many of these anti-allergen products.
Also on the scene now are a limited number of mattresses that resist dust mites and other allergens as well. Some manufacturers are using specialized fabrics, some are using chemicals, and a select few (we could only find one actually) use all-natural means to repel and kill dust mites, etc. If its time for you to replace your mattress, then you should highly consider looking for one that can help alleviate your nighttime allergy symptoms as well!
#9 Consider Getting a Goldfish Instead.
Most allergy sufferers don’t have pets in the household, but a few of you are unwilling to part with your beloved dog or cat (or hamster, or guinea pig). The problem is ALL pets can exacerbate your allergy symptoms. Not even the so-called “allergy free” pets are 100% immune to making you sneeze. If a pet goes outside, they collect allergens, and their fur (or hair) can collect dander and lots of other little sneeze-inducing items. So this one is completely up to you, but if controlling the allergens in your house is a top priority, then the pet may need another home. At the very least, please don’t let them into your bedroom!
#10 When All Else Fails, Talk to Your Doctor.
Not everyone can escape taking medication their entire lives. This is especially true for allergy sufferers! If you’re simply miserable; sneezing, wheezing, coughing, nose dripping, etc., then perhaps its time to talk with your doctor. One thing to keep in mind, however is that if you are prescribed a 24 hour allergy remedy, you may want to take it each night before bedtime. If you take this type of medication in the morning each day, by the time bedtime rolls around it could be losing its potency a bit. Its probably better to have the full effects of the allergy medicine while you’re trying to sleep!