Don’t Let Allergies Wreck Your Sleep

Medically Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on December 17, 2022
2 min read

A runny nose and itchy eyes can keep you up at night. But allergy meds might leave you too wired to sleep.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Take these steps to get your snooze on.

First step: Figure out your allergy triggers and avoid them. Things like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen are often high on the list.

Then remake your bed. You can get pillows and bedding that can prevent sneezes and sniffles. Look for items that say "hypoallergenic." Because dust mites are a huge cause of allergies, get pillow and mattress covers that keep the critters at bay.

If your pets share the bedroom or bed with you, it’s time to find them a new place to sleep.

Check your home's heating and air system. If you can upgrade to a unit that does a better job at air filtration, think about it.

Otherwise, vacuum your carpets and furniture often. If you haven’t upgraded the vacuum lately, do. Today’s models are built to capture allergens, not just stir them up.

If you use a humidifier, change the water regularly. That prevents mold, another allergy trigger, from growing.

Some treatments that can also help include:

Saline nasal flushes. You’ll use a device like a Neti pot to pour a solution into one nostril and let it drain out the other. It can help relieve congestion, but the effects may not last long.

Steroid nasal sprays. Their role is to stop your immune system from overreacting to allergy triggers. They may take a while to work, but they're often the first medicine recommended to help prevent symptoms.

Antihistamines. Use them to dry up your runny nose and postnasal drip. Keep an eye out for side effects like dizziness, dry mouth and throat, and a "hangover effect" that makes you sleepy the next morning. Don’t use them long-term, either.

Nasal decongestant sprays. They clear your stuffy nose, but don’t use them for more than 3 days. After that, they can make you more stopped up.

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

If your allergies keep you from getting the sleep you need, or if medication side effects bother you, talk to your doctor or see an allergist for a complete exam and treatment options.