Is allergy affecting your sleep?
Allergy is the hypersensitivity response of the immune system against an allergen. Substances that usually cause reactions are dust mites, pollen, pet dander, insect stings, some medicines and even food.
The normal function of the immune system is to fight the allergens coming in contact of the body. After it comes in contact, it causes allergic symptoms such as sneezing, running nose, watery eyes , cough, itching, rashes on skin, swelling or even breathing difficulties.
In this article we will discuss about the impact of allergies on sleep and how to prevent them.
Types of allergy
There are two types of allergies like one that occur all the year round caused by dust mites (in bedding, carpets etc.), pet dander, insects etc. And second is seasonal which get worsen in a particular season (February to April and August to October) when pollens are in the air.
How do allergies affect sleep?
Allergens irritate the nasal passage and cause a chemical response that leads to allergic symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, running nose etc.
· Allergens cause swelling in nasal passage that decrease the air flow
· When nose is blocked while sleeping we automatically start breathing from the mouth that makes us prone to sore throat, infection , dryness of mouth, cough etc.
These things ultimately makes it hard for us to stay asleep. Not only this, the quantity and quality of sleep is compromised. Sometimes blocked nose and sneezing like symptoms interrupt your partner's sleep also.
People suffering from allergies have poor sleep quality
According to a 2002 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine with 591 patients of allergy revealed the following:
· 41.6 % had difficulty in falling asleep( vs 18.3% of those without allergic rhinitis)
· 62% felt lack of adequate sleep (compared with 25.4 percent of controls)
· 35.8 % reported insomnia (vs 16 % of controls)
The study clearly established a strong link between allergic symptoms and their impact on sleep quality and quality of life. This may even result in symptoms like sleeplessness at night, excessive daytime sleepiness, poor memory, mood swings etc.
Why are allergies worse at night during sleep?
All allergic symptoms usually worsen at night time because:
· While lying due to the action of gravity the congestion shifts towards the nose, making breathing difficult
· Second reason is the exposure to bedding( mattress and pillow), carpets and even pets is more common at night, that triggers the allergy.
· Bedding is the most common source of allergies
Over the period of time after prolonged usage, the mattresses and pillows become a breeding ground of various microorganisms causing allergies. Various things like dirt, dust, skin shreds, debris etc. piles up night after night on your mattress ,which may cause serious health concerns to you and your family.
Simple tips to get a quality sleep in allergic season:
· Create a conductive sleeping environment Make your bedroom, cool, dark and quiet
· Keep it clean, dust free and ventilated but avoid keeping your windows fully open to prevent entry of allergens
· Ensure that air filters of AC's and heaters are cleaned at regular intervals
· Frequent vacuuming of carpets, curtains and furniture is advised with regular wiping of the floor to keep it dust and dander free
· Avoid using strong room fresheners that may trigger allergies, rather use soothing room fragrances like lavender etc. that facilitate sleep
· If you have a pet, don't let it enter the bedroom and you may even invest in a good air purifier.
· Care for you bedding Keep your bedsheets and pillow covers clean and hygienic by washing them more often
· Always go for gentle fabrics like cotton in bedsheet and pillow covers
· You may use a mattress protector over the mattress that can be washed often
· Mattresses, pillows, quilts etc should be dried in sun which is a natural disinfectant
· Vacuuming of mattress at regular intervals
· You may replace your mattress and pillow often.
· Self care Avoid having caffeine after noon time rather opt for warm herbal teas which decrease congestion
· Have a light dinner
· Don't use electronic devices like smart-phones , i-pads , LED's etc at least an hour before going to sleep
· Follow regular exercise but not just before going to bed
· Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine
· To decrease congestion you may take a warm bath that will also wash off the allergens.
· Warm saline in nose can also open nasal passage.
· Sleepwell helps you prevent allergies All Sleepwell mattresses come with Health FreshTM Technology, an internationally recognised treatment that prevents the breeding of harmful dust mites, bacteria and fungi, which prevents respiratory problems and is a boon to asthmatics. accidental spills, unwanted stains and
· Sleepwell offers quality mattress protectors that encases a mattress to provide protection to the mattress. It not only prevents the mattress against accidental spills, unwanted stains, dust mites, bed bugs, but also prevents the breeding of allergens.
If you still feel that your allergies are persistent, and interfering with your sleep, then its good to see your doctor to evaluate the cause and start the treatment.
Posted By: Dr. Himanshu Arora