How Allergies Impact Your Sleep Cycle
You lie down to rest, and your nose clogs up faster than your toilet when your 3-year-old dumps his toy car collection within and flushes to “wash” them. You feel as if you’re trying to breathe through concrete.
Allergies can make you miserable, and you can’t rest your way out of them. Indeed, they may make it problematic to get your Zzz’s. Here’s how allergies impact your sleep cycle and how to regain slumber.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance like pollen differently than other people. For example, folks who are allergic to peanuts may die from eating them, while many others enjoy Payday bars with no ill effects.
Allergies that get worse when you lay down at night often reflect inadequate indoor air quality. If you aren’t in the habit of changing your air conditioner filters, dust, pollen and other nasties can accumulate and cause misery. You should swap these out once a month if you run your unit regularly, smoke or have pets.
5 Impacts of Allergies on Your Sleep Cycle
If you only suffer occasional stuffiness, you might think allergies are no big deal. However, their impact on your sleep cycle can leave you more prone to accidents and other illnesses. Here’s what you need to know about why you should clear the air.
1. They Make Breathing Challenging
If you ever guzzled NyQuil when you had a cold, you know how challenging it is to sleep with a stuffy nose. One way allergies impact your sleep cycle is by making it hard to breathe. It may prevent you from falling under or cause you to wake during the night.
Unfortunately, many people resort to scrolling through social media on their phones when they can’t sleep. Try to resist this urge. The blue light from such devices can suppress melatonin, a vital sleep hormone, and make it harder to fall under.
2. They Can Cause Snoring
If you share sleeping quarters, your allergies can turn you into a bear. You might not notice, but your partner or children will. Snoring can result from stuffy or runny noses. This symptom also results from sleep apnea — consult your doctor if you suspect you have that disorder.
3. They Periodically Interrupt Sleep
Another parallel between untreated apnea and allergies is that both conditions may cause you to wake up briefly during the night without realizing it. Your only sign may be excessive daytime sleepiness that you can’t explain through other reasons. This drowsiness makes you prone to accidents at work and behind the wheel.
4. They Can Cause Insomnia
Severe allergies can make sleep impossible. This condition affects your mood and your mental health. Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to hallucinations and other distressing symptoms.
5. They Exacerbate Symptoms of Other Disorders
If you have a chronic disease like diabetes or fibromyalgia, allergic insomnia can make your symptoms worse. Your body needs rest to reduce inflammation, and when it doesn’t get it, flares occur. Ironically, the resulting pain also makes sleep more difficult, creating a vicious cycle.
How to Combat Allergies Naturally
If you have severe allergies, you may need medical treatment. You can also find multiple over-the-counter remedies. However, the best way to attack sleep-robbing allergens is to improve your indoor air quality.
Keep clean: You should wash your sheets each week. Pillows can accumulate dust mites, so please change yours frequently — every six months to two years.
Close windows: If you sleep with your windows open, pollen and dust enter. Keep your bedroom windows closed and use a standalone fan to create a breeze. If cooling costs play a role, try opening those in other rooms and keeping your bedroom door closed.
Forbid pets in bedrooms: You love Fido and Fifi, but letting them sleep in your bed can cause allergy attacks. Furthermore, restless pups and kitties can keep you tossing and turning by disturbing your rest.
Tear out your carpet: Because of its soft, porous nature, carpeting holds in allergens. If possible, replace it with hardwood or tile.
When to See the Doctor
When should you see your doctor? If your allergies cause sleeplessness after you try the above tactics, make the call.
Fortunately, many of the treatments that pharmacies once sold by prescription only you can now find over-the-counter. However, the array of options can boggle your mind — and potentially aggravate, not ease your symptoms. Your doctor is your best bet, but the person behind the pill counter might offer you recommendations, too.
Try to avoid inexpensive nose sprays containing oxymetazoline. While these provide temporary relief, they can spur rebound congestion, making it seem impossible to break your reliance on these methods.
Allergies Can Adversely Impact Your Sleep Cycle — Don’t Let Them Steal Your Slumber
Allergies can adversely impact your sleep cycle. However, you can find relief through a combination of natural treatments and medical remedies.