Why Do My Allergies Get Worse at Night?
Allergies are a source of discomfort for many individuals. If you have allergies, you already know how sneezing, watery eyes and an itchy nose can make it difficult to concentrate throughout the day. In addition, some people with allergies find that their symptoms are worse when they lie down for bed. One possible explanation for this is that airborne allergens—substances that cause allergic reactions in the air you breathe—can concentrate in your bedroom at night.2 However, there are steps you can take to minimize nighttime allergies and promote a good night’s rest.
Common Nighttime Bedroom Allergens
These allergens accumulate in your bedroom and can cause allergies at night.
Dust mites, small relatives of ticks and spiders, thrive in warm, humid environments, and feed on shed skin cells. Bedding, carpets, upholstered furniture and other common bedroom fixtures make the perfect hiding place for them. People with dust mite allergies can experience symptoms like sneezing, a runny nose and a cough.3
Another common allergen found in the bedroom is pet dander—or skin cells from your pet. Even if you don't allow your pets in the bedroom, dander can still drift into your bedroom on your clothes or in the air.
Pollen is another allergen that can cause nighttime allergies. It enters your bedroom by sticking to your skin and hair and then transfers to your bedsheets when you lie down. Keep windows closed during pollen season or peak pollen times.5
How to Minimize Nighttime Allergies
Here are some steps you can take to help reduce exposure to allergens in the bedroom:1
- Use covers on your mattress, box spring and pillows to prevent allergens from hiding in your mattress.
- Wash your bedding weekly in hot water to remove allergens and kill dust mites.
- Dust and vacuum frequently.
- Keep your pets off your bed to avoid getting pet dander where you sleep.
- Close your windows to minimize the amount of outdoor allergens entering your room.
- Use central air or an air filter to reduce indoor allergens.
- Shower before getting into bed to remove pollen and prevent it from transferring to your sheets.
- Wipe off or bathe your pets when they come inside from the outdoors.
- Change your clothes when you come inside to avoid spreading pollen in the house.
- If possible, remove carpeting and switch to more allergy-friendly hardwood or vinyl floors.
Lastly, don’t forget to manage your allergies with medication. Over-the-counter antihistamines can help relieve common allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes. Single ingredient pills don’t relieve nasal congestion while Flonase and Flonase Sensimist help block six allergic substances.*
*Mechanism vs. most OTC allergy pills. Flonase acts on multiple inflammatory substances (histamine, prostaglandins, cytokines, tryptases, chemokines, and leukotrienes) The exact number and precise mechanism are unknown.
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend prescription medication or allergy shots.
Can Allergies Contribute to Poor Sleep?
While we know that your allergies can get worse at night, but how significantly do allergies affect your sleep?
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine followed a group of young adults for more than 20 years, and it found that allergies will contribute to poor sleep. 6 Researchers also found that poor sleep quality was associated with higher levels of inflammation in the body, which can contribute to the development of allergies. These findings suggest that getting quality sleep may be involved in reducing the risk of developing allergies.6
- Don’t Let Allergies Ruin Your Sleep. Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut, LLC: Rheumatology. https://www.allergyinstitute.org/blog/dont-let-allergies-ruin-your-sleep. Accessed 4/20/23.
- Allergies and Allergic Reactions | AAFA.org | AAFA | Allergies. https://aafa.org/allergies/#:~:text=Allergies. Accessed 4/20/23.
- Dust mite allergy - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dust-mites/symptoms-causes/syc-20352173. Accessed 4/20/23.
- Pet allergy - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pet-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20352192. Accessed 4/20/23.
- Pollen Allergies | AAFA.org. https://aafa.org/allergies/types-of-allergies/pollen-allergy/. Accessed 4/20/23.
- Allergic Rhinitis and Its Consequences on Quality of Sleep: An Unexplored Area | Sleep Medicine | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/410859. Accessed 4/20/23.