With spring flowers, trees, grasses, and other flora coming into full bloom, pollen and countless other allergens are also here. Many of us suffer from itchy eyes and runny noses due to these airborne particles. But did you know allergies can also wreak havoc on sleep?
The body’s natural defense to allergens is to release histamines; a chemical reaction intended to block these foreign bodies from entering the bloodstream. The body puts up defenses against these invaders, but usually at the cost of our daily comfort. Itchy eyes, runny nose, post-nasal drip, and coughing are all allergy symptoms that are can disrupt sleep!
This general condition, also known as Allergic Rhinitis (AR), was found to affect nearly all aspects of sleep. Luckily, there’s hope for limiting these side effects, so you can sleep better, and ultimately live better!
How to sleep better with allergies
- Limit time outdoors. Since many airborne allergens result from the seasonal blooming of plant life, avoid direct exposure when possible. As leaves pop and the neighborhood landscaper gets more active mowing lawns, steer clear of these irritants by staying indoors. Keeping windows and doors closed will reduce quantities of pollutants entering your internal living space. When working outdoors, the use of a dust mask, gloves and sunglasses can help prevent pollen from coming into contact with your eyes, nose, and throat.
- Clean your home. Carpets, drapes and other linens can be a magnet for dust, pet dander, and other allergens. Remember to dust, vacuum, and wash your linens regularly. This keeps your home from being overrun with allergen particles. You can also take advantage of an air purifier to further limit the negative effects of dust and dander on your allergies.
- Take a non-drowsy antihistamine. Many over the counter products work well to tamper your body’s reaction to allergens. Nasal sprays can provide relief in addition to anti-histamine pills and tablets. Be sure to consult your doctor and read the labels as various OTC medications, since some can make you drowsy. For severe allergy sufferers, your doctor can prescribe stronger treatments including monthly shots that can be used to build up a resistance to specific allergens.
- Plan ahead. Once the body is exposed to allergens and reacts to the stimuli, it’s hard to reduce the symptoms. If you know you’re going to be in a high pollen environment, take an antihistamine prior. If your allergies are particularly aggressive, you can even make this part of your daily routine during the worst of the allergy season. Many medications last 24 hours for all day relief. Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new medication.
Luckily, as summer gets underway, pollen counts should start to decrease, and with it, so should your allergies. But in the meantime, these 4 tricks may help you feel better so you can get the proper sleep you need!