Indoor Allergies and Sleep

In honor of National Volunteer Week and Sit ‘n Sleep’s build day with us, we’d like to share a few tips from them on how you can achieve a better night’s sleep.

Indoor Allergies Getting You Down? Here’s What You Can Do…

Warmer days and plenty of sunshine aren’t the only things that come with the end of winter. The dreaded allergy season will soon begin, but staying inside all spring and summer won’t necessarily eliminate the problem. Indoor allergens like dust mites and pet dander are rampant, and may be living in your mattresses, bedding, bathrooms and carpets. “Indoor allergen sensitivity is extremely common. I see it in about 70 percent of my patients,” said Dr. Marc Meth, an allergist with a private practice in Los Angeles, CA.i “Indoor allergies manifest themselves similarly to outdoor allergens, and triggers can include dust mites, dander from pet hair, cockroaches and mold.”ii

The good news is exposure to indoor allergens is easier to reduce than those found outdoors, which can’t as easily be controlled or eliminated. Items like beds, pillows, rugs, lampshades and fans can all collect and trap dust, dirt, pollen and other allergens. Without removal, these allergens can lead to bad air quality, stuffiness and disrupted poor quality sleep, advises Dr. Michael Breus, a Clinical Psychologist with a specialty in Sleep Disorders.iii Luckily, a little spring-cleaning is all that may be needed for improved sleep this season.

Allergy Symptoms and Options

All allergies are mediated by the chemical histamine,” Meth said.iv Histamine, which is released throughout the upper and lower respiratory tracts, “can induce capillary dilation and permeability, contraction of smooth-muscle tissue and permit sensory neural stimulation.”v For allergy sufferers, this means symptoms ranging from sneezing and nasal congestion to the wheezing seen in asthma.

In order to further prevent and alleviate allergy symptoms, visit your allergist so he or she can perform a simple test to determine the cause of your allergies. “Oral antihistamines, nasal steroids and allergy shots are often used to keep symptoms under control,” Dr. Meth advised. vi

How do allergies affect sleep?

Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing and sinus pressure are all uncomfortable symptoms of indoor allergies. Allergens can also cause inflammation of the nasal passages. As the nasal passages swell, they block airflow through them, causing congestion.vii This nasal congestion can cause disruptions in sleep over and over, while your body keeps unsuccessfully trying to breathe through the nose. As a result, the air that is passing through the mouth, instead of the nose, dries out the lips, mouth and throat, which may cause a disruption in sleep.viii

Nighttime congestion can also lead to snoring, which is caused when nasal passages are swollen and narrowed, often because of allergies.ix And sleeping next to a snoring bed-partner can also cause you to lose hours of sleep!

Say Goodbye to Indoor Allergens

There are simple ways to eliminate indoor allergens:

  • It’s important to wash bedding often, in 140-degree water in order to kill dust mites.
  • Use a hypoallergenic mattress and pillow casing to limit exposure to allergens. The casings reduce contact between you and where the allergens live, on the mattress and pillow.
  • Eliminate dust ruffles around the bed as these collect dust and other allergens.
  • Prevent insect infestations and humidity (which can lead to mildew and mold) by sealing cracks in the kitchen and bathroom areas. Cleaning these areas with bleach will also stop mold from growing.
  • People with pets should not allow them in the bedroom and should clean carpets at least once a week. “Cat dander, especially tends to stick around in carpets. Hardwood floors are ideal,” said Dr. Meth.

Also remember to replace your pillow often; it’s a cost-effective way to eliminate many indoor allergens. A telltale sign that you’re using a “dead” pillow is if it folds, or flops, when laid out across your arms. An ideal pillow should slightly fold, but still stick out at the ends.

Finally, make sure to invest in a new mattress every eight years to ensure maximum support and comfort while sleeping. The average mattress can double in weight every decade, due to dust mites and other allergens that gather and settle on the bed.x

Additional tips to limit allergy triggers include:

  • Replace carpet in bedrooms with hardwood floors.
  • Ensure that bathrooms are well ventilated to reduce the growth of mold spores.
  • Keep windows closed in the spring and summer to prevent outdoor allergens from coming inside the home.
  • Clean ceiling fans, especially after a winter when they haven’t been used as dust and other allergens settle on the blades.

An estimated 50 million Americans have some type of allergy.xi If your symptoms don’t seem to change with the seasons, it might be time to start thinking about indoor allergies. Follow the above tips to combat allergens and make sure to see a doctor to prescribe the best solutions for you.



i Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

ii Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

iii Dr. Breus’ October 2012 Newsletter: What’s Really Keeping You Up at Night? It May Be Your “Unbreathable” Bedroom

iv Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

v Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

vi Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

vii Huffington Post:

viii Huffington Post:

ix Dr. Breus’ February 2013 Newsletter

x Santa Clarita Valley Signal:

xi Santa Clarita Valley Signal: