Having and maintaining good sleep hygiene is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle. However, for those who are allergic to airborne allergens, getting and maintaining a good night’s sleep can prove quite difficult.
This is because those with allergies often experience symptoms such as shortness of breath and nasal congestion, which can make it difficult to breathe and be comfortable at night. What adds to the complexity of this problem is that not getting a good night’s sleep can actually exacerbate your allergy symptoms. Here is a list of how sleep and allergies affect one another as well as some tips on how to stop allergies from disturbing your sleep patterns.
How Do Allergies Affect Sleep?
Allergies can cause your nasal passages to swell, meaning there is not as much room for air to pass through, which will make it difficult for you to breathe through your nose. In many cases, where you’re lying down in your bed, it can constrict your airways and make it even more difficult for you to breathe. Other allergy symptoms that affect sleep are:
- Itchy, watery, irritated eyes
- Runny nose
- Nasal and chest congestion
Additionally, if you happen to be in a room that’s air is contaminated with allergens and impurities, you’re more likely to be affected when you’re sleeping as you’re staying stationary for extended periods of time.
How Does Sleep Affect Allergies?
There is a direct link between having good sleep hygiene and having a strong and healthy immune system. Those that suffer from allergies already have immune systems sensitive to particular allergens and impurities. When allergy sufferers do not get enough sleep, it weakens their immune system and actually makes their allergy symptoms more severe and makes it harder for them to recover.
How to Stop Allergies from Affecting Your Sleep Patterns
The first step to stopping allergies from affecting your sleep patterns is to make sure that you are adhering to good sleep hygiene practices in the first place.
Healthy sleep hygiene practices are:
- Getting between 7 to 8 hours of sleep nightly
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
- Abstaining from alcohol and caffeinated beverages in the hours leading up to bedtime
- Discontinue use of all electronics at least 2 hours before bed
- Make sure you have a comfortable sleep environment that’s cool, quiet, and dark.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes daily
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day
- Engage in relaxation breathing at least 20 to 30 minutes before bed
If you participate in healthy sleep hygiene practices and, yet, are still plagued by allergies that keep you from maintaining regular sleep patterns, here are some more methods that you can try:
- Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove allergens from the air while you sleep
- Sleep with the windows closed
- Use an air conditioning with a HEPA filter; change regularly
- Dust and vacuum your bedroom regularly
- Dry your sheets and pajamas in the dryer instead of outside on the line.
- Quit smoking
- Use a humidifier or dehumidifier depending on your climate; clean regularly
- Use pillow and mattress covers that reduce allergens such as dust
- Wash your bedding frequently
- Take a shower right before bed to remove any allergens that might be on your hair or skin.
- Use a nasal spray or nasal wash to alleviate your nasal congestion before bed
- Drink tea with honey to reduce congestion before bed
- Use eye drops to reduce itchy and irritated eyes before bed
- Take a prescribed or over-the-counter antihistamine to alleviate your allergy symptoms before you go to sleep
- Adding essential eucalyptus oil to your shampoo and body wash can also help you breathe freely at night
- Don’t allow pets in your bedroom
By following these methods, you should be able to not only improve your sleep, but reduce the frequency and severity of allergy symptoms, as well.
Now that you have some helpful tips for how to stop allergies from disturbing your sleep, be sure to utilize these methods. If you have further questions or concerns about how your allergies are affecting your sleep hygiene, be sure to speak with Dr. Mayank Shukla as soon as possible.