Remember how you used to worry about monsters lurking under your bed? Well, it turns out you may have been onto something.
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Beds and bedrooms serve as a prime stomping ground for allergens such as dust mites, pet hair and mold. These hidden irritants can make your life miserable ― especially if you have asthma or allergies.
But fear not! Hypoallergenic beddings and other measures can help tame those bedroom monsters. For more, let’s turn to pediatric immunologist John McDonnell, MD.
Think your house is so clean that it’s allergen-free? Think again.
Researchers who examined dust vacuumed off thousands of bedroom floors found at least one common allergen in more than 99% of the samples. Nearly 75% of bedrooms had three to six allergens detected.
“It’s not a cleanliness issue, either,” says Dr. McDonnell. “No matter how much you scrub and clean, odds are there will still be allergens hanging around somewhere in your bedroom and house.”
So, what might be skulking on your bedroom floors? The eight most common allergens are linked to:
Here’s a disturbing fact: You never truly sleep alone. Your mattress may house anywhere between 100,000 and 10 million microscopic dust mites, according to some estimates.
And here’s another tidbit that may keep you up tonight: If your pillow is at least two years old, roughly 10% of its weight may come from dead dust mites and dust mite poop. (Ewwwww, right?)
It seems that dust mites simply love the warm and moist environment that exists on your mattress and pillow, notes Dr. McDonnell. Plus, the setting is basically a buffet, as dust mites feed on skin flakes we shed.
(Gross side note: The skin cells you drop in a day can feed 1 million dust mites.)
We share these horrors to set up this fact: Hypoallergenic bedding is designed to stop dust mites from moving around so freely. This special bedding (such as mattress covers) acts as a physical barrier that serves several roles:
The answer is yes … with an asterisk.
Research shows that using hypoallergenic mattress covers, pillow covers or blankets is an effective way to reduce your exposure to those dust mites. That’s welcome news, as the idea of those little insects roaming around is pretty creepy.
The problem? While exposure to dust mites declined, allergy symptoms didn’t significantly improve for participants. (Those findings mirrored others, too.)
“There are benefits to using hypoallergenic bedding,” says Dr. McDonnell. “But don’t expect these products to solve all of your problems. They might help a little, but only doing that isn’t going to make much of a difference.”
As noted above, allergens are tough to eliminate from your home. But there are things you can do to minimize allergens in your bedroom (and home) if they’re causing you trouble, says Dr. McDonnell.
Here are 10 suggestions:
Why is addressing bedroom allergens so important? Well, it comes down to time.
“You spend a lot of hours in your bedroom,” says Dr. McDonnell. “When you’re sleeping, your immune system doesn’t get a free pass. It’s still dealing with allergens. Your body is still responding to them.”
So, if you want to rest and breathe easier, take care of those bedroom “monsters” that you always knew existed.