How to Sleep With Seasonal Allergies

Allergies are prevalent every spring. Lately, I have been refusing to acknowledge that I have any sort of allergy, while sitting at my work desk with puffy eyes and itchy, consistent sneezes. I use eye drops most mornings and I have been taking a Claritin D more often, but I guess my pride has taken over--I don't want to be a victim of allergies.

Woman with allergies

When it comes down to the brass tacks, I probably have allergies, just like a good percentage of US citizens. Like many others, I have been looking for ways to sleep with bothersome allergies.

According to the Huffington Post, "A recent survey from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found that 59 percent of people with nasal allergies say they have trouble sleeping because of their symptoms. And 48 percent say their sneezing and sniffling also disturb their bed partner's sleep." To help us function in the world, we may want to keep track of pollen counts this season if we want to kick these allergies.

Many of us are busy, so it can be tricky to get the appropriate sleep needed to stay healthy. However, one of the best things you can do for allergies is to sleep more. It may sound impossible, but going to bed a little earlier, or adjusting your schedule can improve your health. According to National Allergy, patients who recognize that they need to improve their sleep - and do so by sleeping a little more - actually find that their health improves. In fact, they "are 'paid back' with improved well-being and increased efficiency at whatever work they perform regularly" (Dr. Zedalis). With a little added sleep, you may find your health improving.

It's apparent that those of us with allergies, especially, need more sleep. However, this can be impossible when we're being ripped from sleep by coughing, sneezing, and runny noses.

Here are some steps that may help you sleep better, even with allergies:

  1. Start Habits To Foster a Better Sleeping Environment: In easy and sometimes obvious ways, our sleeping habits can be enhanced dramatically. For instance, steps like dimming lights, changing the temperature, turning off electronics, quieting noises, using a quality pillow, and putting animals in another room can ease you into sleep, and possibly keep you asleep throughout the night.
  2. Wash Your Hands and Face Often: In an article on allergy relief tips, Dr. Rodriguez, Woodhull Medical Center Pulmonologist, "also suggests washing the pollen off your face and hands when you get inside and wearing a hat to prevent pollen from attaching to your hair." Just a little soap and water can keep you from allergy flare ups during the day and especially before bedtime.
  3. Block Pollens with Sunglasses: Dr. Rodiquez also advises those with severe allergies to wear sunglasses while outdoors. This will protect your eyes from airborne pollens. If you take preventive measures to protect your eyes, you may be able to sleep better at night without puffy, irritated eyes.
  4. See a doctor for the right medications/antihistamines: People, like myself, are often in a hurry to grab an over the counter allergy medication. For those with specific medical conditions, it may be wise to visit with a physician to find the right medication for your allergy symptoms. Once you have the right medicine, you may be able to sleep with allergies without feeling groggy in the morning.
  5. Preparing for Sleep with Food: Some health sites discourage eating late, but many of us know that can be hard to follow. If you like to enjoy a snack before bed, try something that will help you sleep rather than something that will disrupt it. Foods such as coffee, chocolate, grapefruit, lots of water, high-fat foods, caffeine, and too much alcohol may disrupt sleep. Foods that may aid in sleep include the following: bananas, protein, almonds, milk, cherries, decaf tea, and oatmeal.
  6. De-stress to Feel Your Best: Stress is a natural factor in most lives. When you are feeling allergy symptoms, stress and lack of sleep can make them worse. So it's important to find ways for de-stressing. Meditation and de-stressing exercises can help you fall asleep, despite allergies.
  7. Spring Clean To Fight Allergies: Another way to protect yourself against irritating pollens is to clean. By washing your bedding regularly and wiping down your room, you can lessen the amount of pollens in which you come into contact. This also allows your room to become a more allergy free place, which will hopefully allow you to sleep better. You might also consider giving your pets a bath, since they are likely to be carrying pollens from outside.
  8. Relax and Steam Down Before Bed: There are some great ways to make a little spa before bedtime to help you decongest and find the sleep you need. You could breathe in steam for a few minutes, take a hot bath, run the shower and read a book while you allow your sinuses to ease up. Give your puffy eyes a hot or cold compress to reduce some of the swelling. The warm pressure may be just the thing to put you to sleep.

My hope is that some of these steps allow you to sleep a little better. I've learned that even though I didn't have allergies as a kid, did not mean I wouldn't get them later in life. Instead of denying my allergy symptoms, I plan to treat them so that I can make it through this spring.