Get Some Zzz’s: Nighttime Allergy Relief Tips

Surprisingly simple bedroom changes that work

Sick in bed

If allergy symptoms disturb your sleep at night, some simple changes to your sleeping environment might help you find relief, says allergist and immunologist Sandra Hong, MD.

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Especially if you are allergic to dust mites, mold, pollen or pet dander, you need to pay special attention to keeping your sleeping space clean and free from allergens.

“If you have allergies, your bedroom needs to be as dust- and clutter-free as possible,” says Dr. Hong.

9 tips for better sleep

Here’s how – focus on these areas:

1. “Lock down” your bedding – To keep dust mites at bay, use zippered covers for your pillow, mattress and box springs. When it comes to bedding, “You need something you can wash and dry in high heat,” Dr. Hong says. “And no feathers. Trade out feather pillows and down comforters for bedding made with synthetic materials.”

2. Avoid carpeting – These should be changed out for hard flooring, so a damp mop can trap dust particles that settle to the floor.

3. Use window blinds – Use blinds rather than curtains to cover windows, since heavy draperies and upholstered curtains collect dust.

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4. Wash stuffed animals –These are a commonly overlooked breeding ground for dust mites. “Stuffed animals need to be washed weekly in hot water and dried on a high heat setting at least once a week,” says Dr. Hong. “If they can’t be washed should be sealed in plastic bags and left in the freezer overnight.” High heat and extreme cold will kill dust mites living deep inside a plush toy’s stuffing.

5. Lose the ceiling fan –These are a bad idea for allergy sufferers because dust collects on top of ceiling fans, Dr. Hong says. “Then when you turn on the fan, it whips dust around the room.”

6. Limit humidity – Dust mites thrive in a humid environment, so try to maintain 50 percent humidity or less in your bedroom. Use a dehumidifier and keep windows closed.

7. Consider an air conditioner – If you use a window air conditioning unit, make sure it is set to recirculate inside air, rather than pulling moist air from outside. This can help people with seasonal allergies as well. But, cautions Dr. Hong, air conditioning units can harbor mold. People with mold allergies, in particular, should make sure their window air conditioning units are cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis.

8. Try a HEPA filter – “Getting a HEPA filter for the bedroom may help quite a bit,” Dr. Hong suggests. These small, portable units trap allergens like dust mites, pet dander and pollen. If you choose a different type of air filter or air purifier, make sure it is one that does not produce ozone, which worsens asthma symptoms.

9. Love pets from afar – Finally, Dr. Hong says, although your pet may be a member of the family, he needs his own sleeping space. “I’m always surprised at the number of allergy sufferers who allow pets in their bedrooms,” she says. “Hamsters, guinea pigs, mice and other pets should not be living in a person’s bedroom, and you shouldn’t allow cats and dogs to sleep on your bed. That will cut down on the amount of pet dander in the air.”

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