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Posted on: December 13, 2019

It’s the same thing almost every single night. You brush your teeth, finish your nightly routine, climb into bed, and immediately feel congested and sneezy.

If you suffer from allergies, your symptoms most likely get worse at night. This is something you share with other allergy patients. In fact, research shows that 74% of allergy sufferers wake up during the night because of allergy symptoms and over 90% of sufferers have difficulty sleeping.

What Triggers Allergy Night-Time Symptoms?

There are multiple potential triggers for night-time allergy symptoms. Indoor allergens including dust mites, pet dander, and pollen are a few examples. Dust mites could live in your bedroom. Pet dander, which is skin (as well as urine and saliva) and not fur, can stick to your clothing or bedding and cause allergy symptoms that way.

The same goes for pollen. It can exist indoors, and if you spend time outside and don’t immediately wash your hands and change your clothes and shoes, you could bring even more pollen inside your bedroom.

Types of Allergies that Could Become Worse During the Night

No matter what type of allergy you have, it can ruin your sleep. Rashes, food allergies, or an upset stomach triggered by allergies can cause sleep problems, but the most common pair of sleep-destroyers are nasal allergies and asthma, many of which stem from several common allergies including:

Dust Mites

Both asthma and allergy sufferers could have a dust mite allergy. Dust mites prefer carpeting, some furniture, and bedding to live in. That means they like warmer indoor environments like your bedroom, which is one reason your symptoms may get worse at night – there are more dust mites in your room. Nearly microscopic dust mites may live on your pillow, box spring, and mattress.

Dust mites may cause symptoms like itchiness, a feeling of being unable to breathe, chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, eye itchiness and redness, nose stuffiness, and sneezing.

Pet Dander

Those who are allergic to pet dander can have instant reactions or longer-term symptoms. An animal doesn’t even have to be present for a pet dander allergic reaction to take place. Dander can travel and land on lots of household and bedroom surfaces. This means that, even if you don’t own a pet yourself, you can bring the dander home with you and then have to deal with allergy symptoms for days, maybe even longer.

Pollen

As one of the most common allergy triggers, pollen affects millions of people in the United States. Although it’s an outdoor powder, pollen can travel anywhere. Animals can transport it, as can insects, birds, and the wind.

When you go outside, pollen particles settle on your skin, your hair, your clothes, and your shoes. If you don’t wash your clothes and take a shower, then you can end up having pollen in your bed. Sleeping with an open window can also allow pollen to get in as the sun rises and pollen counts do, too.

Indoor Mold

While you hope to never have to deal with indoor mildew and mold, it does happen. If you’re allergic to mold, then it could trigger your allergies and keep you up at night. That’s especially true if your bedroom is close to a bathroom.

While we’ll share some tips for avoiding allergies later in this article, you should clean indoor mold as soon as you spot it. To properly clean mold, mix bleach and water until you have a cleaning material made up of about five percent bleach. You can also use detergent in lieu of bleach.

Cockroaches

Cockroaches can get in through your window and make you feel symptomatic. According to information from the ACAAI, up to 98 percent of US urban homes could have cockroach allergens, with 63 percent of all other homes potentially containing the insect allergen.

If you have a cockroach allergy, you may be more susceptible to sinus infections and ear infections. You might also experience wheezing, skin rashes, nasal congestion, and coughing as your symptoms.

Allergies and Sleep Apnea

When you have to wrestle with your allergies each night at bedtime, you may fitfully toss and turn and then wake up exhausted. It feels like you slept for maybe an hour or two. As you drag on with your day, bleary-eyed and dead tired, it’s easy to assume you’re so exhausted because your stuffy nose, eye itchiness, and coughing kept you awake.

While that could be true, you could also be dealing with sleep apnea without even knowing it. Obstructive sleep apnea is a form of sleep apnea associated with allergies. The nasal symptoms of your allergies make you snore when you might regularly don’t. The sound of your snoring, while very distracting to a partner, can even bother you, causing you to wake up again and again throughout the night.

The upper airway is obstructed with this sleep apnea, either somewhat or all the way. Since your airway cannot open, the lungs don’t get as much air unless your chest muscles and diaphragm strain.

You can have obstructive sleep apnea and not even know it because you’re barely aware of what’s causing you to keep waking all night. Here are the other symptoms:

  • Constant exhaustion that makes it hard to get out of bed
  • A choking or gasping feeling that wakes you up, even several times a night
  • Snoring
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Night sweating
  • Mood changes, depression, feeling forgetful, and difficulty with concentrating on tasks
  • Morning headaches
  • Sore throat and/or dry mouth in the morning

By seeing your provider, you can begin getting your case of obstructive sleep apnea under control.

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How to Sleep Well with Allergies

If you’re not dealing with obstructive sleep apnea, there are some common tips you can follow to deal with your allergies and get a better night’s rest.

Take Precautions Against Higher Pollen Levels at Night

Surprisingly, pollen levels continue to rise throughout the night and peak around dawn. Keeping windows closed and running air conditioning with a premium air filter can help reduce nighttime allergy symptoms.

Consider that Your Pillow and Mattress May Be the Blame

Pillows and mattresses are great for you getting a good night’s sleep, but they also excel at harboring allergy triggers such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. Replacing pillows or covering them with an anti-allergy pillow case helps. In addition, there are anti-allergen mattress covers for sale that are effective in helping to relieve nighttime allergy symptoms.

Have Pets Sleep Elsewhere

In addition to dander, pets also carry dust mites, pollen and other allergens trapped in their coats.  Allowing them to sleep on your bed allows for these allergens to transfer onto bedding and night clothes making allergy symptoms worse.

Keep Your Sleeping Environment Allergen Free

You need your sleep, so, the room you sleep in needs to be cleaned often to remove pollen, dust mites, and other allergens. Vacuuming under the bed helps in this effort by removing allergens living underneath it. A home-remedy that helps keep your bedroom allergen free is to wipe down hard flooring, molding and the walls near your bed with white vinegar. Mold is an allergen that enjoys living on dark walls and floors. Dehumidifiers can help keep relative humidity at the recommended levels of 30-50% and air conditioning to maintain temperatures at 70 degrees F or below will retard dust mite and mold growth. Hardwood flooring is best.

Wash Before Sleeping

Throughout the day your body and hair are exposed to and collect allergens such as pollen and dust. Accordingly, if you shower or bathe in the morning, try switching your time to wash your hair and body before bed time so that you don’t bring allergens into bed with you.

Other Tips for Lessening Nighttime Allergies and Getting Better Sleep

Here are some of our top tips for getting your night allergies under control and your sleep back on track:

  • If you think it’s indoor mold that’s worsening your nighttime allergies, make sure you have adequate ventilation in every room of the house. This goes double for kitchens, bathrooms, and basements, where humidity levels can change more often.
  • For indoor mold allergies, you also want to use dehumidifiers in the above rooms, as these keep too much moisture from forming.
  • Make sure your home doesn’t have any pipes or roof seals with leaks. If you spot these, get them repaired.
  • For those with cockroach allergies, call an exterminator. They can tell you if there are any upstairs gaps where cockroaches can get into your bedroom. For instance, they may squeeze in through a window, a crack in the wall, or a small crevice.
  • After you’re done spending time with your pet, change clothes and wash the ones you wore while spending time with your animal. Don’t bring clothes into your bedroom unless they’re clean.
  • If you have a dust mite allergy, wash your sheets and other bedding at a high temperature, at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot water will help remove any lingering mites.
  • Make sure you change and clean your bedding every week to keep dust mites away.
  • Get plastic or fabric covers for your pillows, box spring, and mattresses so dust mites can’t get into your bed.

When to See a Specialist

Did you know that you are not able to sneeze when you are asleep? This means that one of the most important ways of ridding your body from allergens, sneezing, is unavailable while you sleep. This can lead to a worsening of symptoms that will wake you up.

Keeping your sleeping environment, your body, and your sleep clothes clear from allergens certainly cannot hurt you and often is enough to give you a comfortable night’s sleep. But, for some, it isn’t enough and the only available option is allergy medication.

If your allergies are making it difficult to sleep at night, contact Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center today. Since 1952, Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center has served the Charlotte metropolitan area. Today, the center has 12 offices in and around Charlotte. All the 14 allergists at the center are board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. To make an appointment at an office near you call 704-372-7900.

 

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