An increase in nighttime allergy symptoms is a common complaint among patients who suffer from seasonal allergies. Sniffling, difficulty, breathing, and nasal congestion are all signs of allergies. There are many reasons why allergies get worse at night, and why they can make getting a good night's sleep difficult.
What Causes Nighttime Allergies?
Nighttime allergies are caused by the exact same allergens that cause daytime allergies. While they are caused by the same allergens, they may feel a lot worse at night. The common culprits are dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and mold. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Nasal congestion or stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Allergic rhinitis
- Sore throat
- Eye itchiness and watery eyes
Why Do Allergies Get Worse at Night?
Your allergies might get worse at night due to increased exposure to your allergy triggers around your bed. Your symptoms can also seem worse at night if you are more aware of your allergies at night than you are during the day.
While pollen particles are present all the time, pollen levels do go up at night which can increase your exposure and allergy symptoms. Dust mites are also present all the time, but thrive indoors. In particular, dust mites thrive in bedding and furniture, so they can be found in higher concentrations in your bed and bedroom.
Whether your allergy symptoms are a result of dust and pet dander or other allergens, the symptoms usually get worse at night the moment you lie down. This is because whatever was clogging your nasal passages will flow into your upper airway when you lie down flat.
The result is you will experience difficulty sleeping due to constant coughing and wheezing on top of the nose stuffiness.
Which Allergies Get Worse During the Night?
There are several different types of allergies that can get worse at night, including allergies to dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, and cockroaches. Depending on what you are allergic to your symptoms can get worse at night for different reasons.
Dust Mite Allergies
Dust mite allergies are amongst some of the most common allergies that many people suffer from. Dust mites are literally found everywhere on your household and bedroom surfaces, where you’re spending the whole night!
If your body is particularly sensitive to dust mites, then you might feel as if you constantly have to deal with a stuffy nose and nasal congestion which becomes worse at night.
Pet Dander Allergies
Unlike dust mites, you won't necessarily find pet dander throughout your home, unless you actually own a pet.
In many cases, you may be picking up the pet dander from somewhere else completely, and then bringing it into your home. If you are sensitive to pet dander, then you will experience an allergic reaction that gets worse the more you are exposed to the allergen.
Pet allergies can cause either instant reactions or long-term reactions that come from continued allergen exposure.
Most people do not know this, but what makes pollen allergies worse at night is that pollen count actually increases at night, especially in the hours just before dawn. Pollen settles closer to the ground – and your bed! – as time passes after its release. As the sun rises, so does the pollen count.
This is what makes pollen a major factor in both nighttime and morning allergies. If you sleep next to an open window then this might be the culprit. However, it is also easy to track pollen into your house either on your clothes or on the coats of your pets.
Just like dust mites, mold spores can be found almost anywhere in your house. Mold thrives in damp, warm environments. This is why mold growth is one of the first signs of water damage or uncommonly high humidity levels inside your house.
Cockroach allergens are not usually talked about, but studies have shown that close to 63% of homes contain these types of allergens. Sinus infections and ear infections are some of the common complaints from patients who are allergic to cockroaches.
The fact that these insects are most active at night is why they are usually associated with nighttime allergies.
Can Allergies Cause Sleep Apnea?
Yes, allergies have been known to cause obstructive sleep apnea in severe cases. Normal body reactions, such as sneezing, do not work while sleeping. Therefore, a runny nose, for example, will cause a post-nasal drip into your throat and can wake you up.
How To Get Better Sleep With Allergies?
If you have suffered for a long time with allergy symptoms that get worse at bedtime or throughout the night, it is easy to think that there is no solution. However, with a few changes to your lifestyle and better management of your immediate environment, there is hope for you.
The key is to reduce or eliminate exposure to the triggers and indoor allergens that cause your allergic reactions to peak at night. The following tips should help you sleep better:
Shower Before Bedtime
Washing off right before you go to sleep is a great way to remove allergens from your body. Pollen can stick to your skin and hair throughout the day, so making sure your skin is clean before lying down can have a huge impact when trying to reduce exposure to your allergens throughout the night.
Invest in Premium Air Filters
A premium air filter, such as a HEPA filter, is a good way to remove pollen and other allergens from your bedroom while you sleep. In fact, a good filter can remove more dust mites than any other cleaning method you try.
Some bedrooms tend to be stuffy and humid, which only promotes the activity of dust mites. Always try to make sure the air in your room is filtered to reduce the chance of the air in your house harboring potential allergens.
Deep Clean Potential Sources of Allergens
Carpets, mattresses, bed sheets, upholstered furniture, heavy curtains, and your clothes, are all places where the most common allergens can be found in your home. Cleaning your environment regularly using hypoallergenic detergents and a vacuum cleaner will help to keep dust mites and similar environmental allergens at bay.
You should also be on the lookout for the appearance of indoor mold, which can trigger your allergies if allergic. Cleaning surfaces with hot water and bleach is effective against mold, and a good air conditioning system will help prevent their growth.
Guard Against Pollen Grains
Whenever your room is exposed to even the smallest pollen counts, you can easily experience symptoms similar to hay fever and other allergies. If you find that pollen levels continue to rise even after your best efforts at cleaning, then the other option is to prevent them from getting in the first place. Keeping your windows closed at night and not allowing your pet to run around outside might help.
Do Not Sleep Close to Your Pet
As much as you love your pet, if you are sensitive to dust and pet dander, sleeping near your pet is likely to increase your symptoms. You need to train your pet to sleep in its own room. During the day, you should keep it out of your bedroom so that it does not come into contact with your mattress, bedding, and pillows.
Use Anti-Allergen Bedding
You can buy bedding and pillows that are specifically made for people who suffer from severe allergies. This type of bedding can be made from anti-allergen material that is resistant to dust mites and indoor mold growth. The smooth material also makes it difficult for pollen and pet dander to attach to your bedding.
When To See a Doctor
If you have tried all the above ways to reduce allergies, but you discover that both your daytime and nighttime allergies keep getting worse, then it is probably time to consult a doctor for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment using allergy medications.
Maybe your environment is simply exposed to more allergens than you can possibly handle and the only way to reduce inflammation, sneezing, nasal congestion, and other symptoms, is to use an allergy treatment plan like sublingual immunotherapy.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
Nighttime allergy symptoms can cause a lot of suffering, and in extreme cases, sleep deprivation can leave you exhausted during the day. However, you do not have to continue suffering on your own. Our doctors at Wyndly will work with you to create a personalized allergy treatment plan to get you long-term symptom relief.
Take our quick online assessment to see how Wyndly can help you and get one step closer to a life free from allergies!