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Allergies Health Center

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Allergies and Sleep

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Sneezing, runny nose, postnasal drip, watery and itchy eyes -- whether it’s symptoms or the medication you use to treat them that’s keeping you up, allergies can make it hard for you to get a good night’s sleep.

When your nose is stopped up and you start breathing through your mouth, it can irritate your throat. You’re also more likely to snore – which may disturb your bed partner, too. If you have sleep apnea, congestion makes it worse.

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Allergies can also cause headaches and even wheezing at night. And then there’s postnasal drip -- when mucus drips down the back of your throat, it can cause you to cough. Just when you were finally dropping off…

And when you do sleep, it's not quality slumber.

But you don’t have to take all this lying down, so to speak.

How to Control Allergies and Get Some Sleep

The first thing to do is to identify you allergy triggers and avoid them.. things like dust mites, pet dander, or pollen.

Get hypoallergenic pillows and bedding. Pillow and mattress covers may help.

If you have pets in the bedroom or bed, consider finding someplace else for Fido or Kitty to nap.

Check your home's heating and air system and consider an upgrade with better air filtration, if needed.

Vacuum carpets and furniture regularly. Newer vacuums are much better at actually capturing allergens and not just kicking them up in the air.

If you use a humidifier, change the water regularly, so mold doesn’t grow.

Allergy Treatments

If that doesn’t work, some over-the-counter and prescription treatments include:

Saline nasal flushes. This is a drug-free way to relieve congestion. The effects may not last long.

Nasal decongestant sprays. These sprays can help clear your nose, but you should not use them for more than 3 days. Using them longer can actually make you more stopped up.

Nasal decongestant pills or liquids. These also work well and can provide long-lasting relief, but you may not want to use them at night. Some can keep you awake, especially those with pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine.

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