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.
Your home is your castle -- except when you’re allergic to it. A recent
nationwide survey found that over half of all Americans test positive for at
least some allergens, and many of these are indoor allergies such as dust,
mold, and pet dander.
How can you allergy-proof your home to make it a refuge, not a source of
sneezes? Take a tour of your house from room to room, find out where the
allergens are lurking, and get relief from indoor allergies.
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…
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 avoid things that trigger your allergies, 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.
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.
Antihistamines. They will dry up your runny nose and postnasal drip, but they can have side effects such as dizziness, blurred vision, and a "hangover effect" of sleepiness the next morning. You shouldn't use them long-term.
Steroid nasal sprays. These sprays actually help stop your immune system from overreacting to things you’re allergic to. They take a while to work, but they do help prevent symptoms when used regularly.
If allergies are keeping you from getting the sleep you need, or medication side effects are bothering you, talk to your doctor or see an allergist for a complete evaluation and treatment options. A good night’s sleep is within your reach!