Updated:

May 23, 2023

Sleep Tight: Your Complete Guide to Managing Nighttime Allergies

Struggling to get a good night's sleep due to nasal congestion, sneezing, or other allergy symptoms? Nighttime allergies can be a source of frustration for many people and lead to uncomfortable symptoms that can disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling groggy and unrefreshed in the morning. 

The good news is that there are several steps you can take to prevent allergies at night. By identifying the allergens that trigger your symptoms and taking steps to reduce exposure, you can reduce the severity of your symptoms and enjoy a more restful night's sleep. In this article, we will explore some of the most effective ways to prevent nighttime allergies and improve the quality of your sleep.

Causes of Nighttime Allergies

Why do I get allergies at night? 

It's important to note that not everyone with allergies will experience nighttime symptoms. 

You may experience allergies only at night. Allergy symptoms can worsen at night for different reasons. For instance, indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold, are often present in the bedroom, making allergies worse at night. When we lie down to sleep, these allergens can become airborne and irritate our nasal passages, causing allergy symptoms at night, such as sneezing, runny nose, and congestion. This can make it difficult to breathe, leading to sleep disruption and further exacerbation of allergy symptoms.

Allergy-induced sleep deprivation can cause individuals to wake up due to a congested nose, sneezing, or coughing fits, leading to a vicious cycle that can cause sleep problems. In some cases, nasal allergies can also cause snoring at night, which can further interrupt sleep.

Moreover, many people experience a natural increase in their levels of the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol during the day, which can help suppress allergy symptoms. However, cortisol levels tend to decrease at night, which can make allergy symptoms more pronounced.

If your allergies are worse at night, here are some of the potential causes:

Lying down. Lying down can cause night allergies. This is because when we lie down, the blood flow to our head increases, which can cause the blood vessels in our nasal passages to dilate or become larger, leading to swelling and congestion. This can make it difficult to breathe, especially for people with allergies or asthma.

Furthermore, lying down can also cause allergies to accumulate in our nasal passages. This is because allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and pollen, are lightweight and can easily become airborne. When we lie down, these allergens can settle in our nasal passages, leading to irritation and inflammation. This can exacerbate allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and congestion.

Mold: Mold can have a significant impact on nighttime allergies as it is a common allergen that can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Mold spores are tiny particles that float in the air and can be inhaled into the lungs, causing respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In addition to respiratory symptoms, exposure to mold can also cause allergic rhinitis, which is characterized by symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. 

Mold can also affect allergies at night by causing skin irritation, rashes, or hives. For people with asthma, exposure to mold can trigger asthma attacks, which can be especially dangerous at night when the body is at rest. Moreover, mold can grow in damp areas of the home, such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens, and can be present in air conditioning systems, leading to higher concentrations of mold spores in the air. This can make nighttime allergies worse and lead to poor sleep quality.

Pet Dander: Pet dander is a common allergen that can cause nighttime allergies. Dander is made up of tiny flecks of skin shed by animals with hair, fur, or feathers, and it contains proteins found in pet saliva, urine, and dander that can trigger an allergic reaction. When airborne, pet dander can easily enter the nasal passages and lungs, leading to allergy symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, and difficulty breathing. During the night, allergen levels can be higher due to factors such as indoor air circulation and pet sleeping patterns, leading to nighttime allergies. 

Pet dander can be especially problematic for those with nighttime allergies, as people tend to spend a lot of time in their bedrooms, and the dander can accumulate on bedding, pillows, and furniture. Additionally, pets that sleep in the same room as their owners can shed dander throughout the night, which can trigger night allergy symptoms.

Dust mites: Dust mites are the leading cause of nighttime allergies. These microscopic creatures feed on human skin cells and thrive in warm, humid environments, such as bedding, carpets, and upholstered furniture. Dust mites produce waste that can trigger an allergic reaction in some people. The bedroom can be the perfect habitat for dust mites, which is why many people experience nighttime allergy symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and congestion.

When you lie down in bed, the air movement caused by your breathing can stir up dust mites and their waste, making it more likely to inhale them. This can trigger an allergic reaction that causes symptoms to flare up at night. The more time you spend in bed, the more you are exposed to dust mites for an extended period, leading to more severe allergy symptoms.

Cockroaches: Cockroach allergens are found in the saliva, feces, and bodies of these insects. These allergens can become airborne and be inhaled, leading to allergic reactions. According to the ACAAI, cockroach allergens can be particularly problematic for people living in urban areas, as cockroaches are commonly found in apartments and homes in densely populated areas.

Cockroach allergens can also have a significant impact on the quality of sleep for people with nighttime allergies. Exposure to these allergens can cause symptoms that disrupt sleep, such as nasal congestion, coughing, and wheezing. Moreover, if a person has asthma, exposure to cockroach allergens can trigger asthma symptoms and make it difficult to breathe, leading to poor sleep quality.

Night Allergy Symptoms

Common nighttime allergy symptoms that you might experience can look like:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or runny nose
  • Postnasal Drip
  • Congestion
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Eye puffiness or dark circles
  • Fatigue

These symptoms can be caused by allergies to a variety of things, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold. If you experience these symptoms regularly, it's a good idea to see a doctor to determine the cause and get appropriate treatment.

How to Stop Allergies at Night: Prevention

A good night's sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health. During sleep, your body repairs and regenerates itself, and a lack of sleep can lead to a range of health problems, including fatigue, mood swings, a weakened immune system, and even chronic diseases. However, if you suffer from nighttime allergies, getting a good night's sleep can be a challenge. Nighttime allergy symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and itchiness can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to prevent nighttime allergies from flaring up and get the restful sleep your body needs to function at its best.

The first step in preventing allergies at night is to identify the specific allergens that trigger your symptoms. This can be done through an allergy test, which can help you determine which allergens to avoid. Once you know what you're allergic to, you can take steps to avoid exposure to these substances. At Aspire Allergy & Sinus, we offer comprehensive allergy testing for up to 58 of the most common allergens, including pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, and more.

Preventing nighttime allergy congestion: 

To prevent even more congestion from lying down, try elevating your head while you sleep. This can help reduce the blood flow to your head, which can in turn reduce nasal swelling and congestion. You can do this by using a wedge pillow or by propping up the head of your bed with blocks or risers.

Another helpful tip to relieve nighttime allergies is to perform saline nasal flushes. This involves using a device like a Neti pot to pour a solution into one nostril and let it drain out the other, which can help relieve congestion.

Mold allergies can be especially problematic for people with respiratory conditions like asthma. If you suspect that you have a mold allergy, it's important to take steps to reduce your exposure to mold. 

  • Using a dehumidifier to discourage mold growth. Be sure to keep the humidity level between 40% and 50%
  • Repair any leaks, especially under cabinets
  • Use vents or open windows when showering to prevent mold growth 

To reduce the impact of dust on nighttime allergies, it is important to keep your home clean and dust-free. This can include:

If you suspect that pet dander is causing your nighttime allergies, it's vital to take steps to reduce your exposure. This may include:

  • Brush pets frequently to keep shedding at bay
  • Washing your bedding and clothing regularly
  • Vacuuming your home frequently
  • Try to keep pets out of bedroom

To reduce the impact of cockroaches on nighttime allergies, it is essential to eliminate sources of cockroach allergens in the home. You should:

  • Keep the home clean and free of food debris
  • Store food in tightly sealed containers
  • Remove trash regularly
  • Fix any water leaks or sources of moisture that may attract cockroaches

Nighttime Allergy treatments

Allergy Drops for Night Allergies

Sublingual immunotherapy, also known as allergy drops, can help alleviate nighttime allergies by addressing a broader range of airborne allergens and being customized for each patient based on allergy test results. The drops work by exposing the patient to small amounts of allergens over time, allowing their immune system to build up a tolerance to the allergens.

The drops can include a range of allergens, such as trees, grasses, weeds, ragweed, cats and dogs, molds, dust mites, and feathers. This customization allows for greater precision in treating the specific nighttime allergies affecting the patient.

Allergy Shots for Night Allergies

Allergy shots, also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy, can help treat nighttime allergies by desensitizing the body's immune system to allergens over time. Allergy shots contain small amounts of allergens that are gradually increased in each shot, helping the body build up tolerance to the allergens and reducing the severity of allergic reactions. This means that allergy shots can help prevent symptoms of nighttime allergies, such as nasal congestion, sneezing, and itchy eyes, by reducing the body's response to allergens. In combination with other preventative measures, allergy shots are an effective treatment option for allergies at night.

ExACT Immunoplasty for Night Allergies

ExACT Immunoplasty may be an effective treatment option for allergic rhinitis, which can cause nighttime allergies. ExACT involves injecting allergens directly into the lymph nodes to help the body build up immunity to those allergens. This treatment is designed to target the root cause of allergies by training the immune system to better tolerate allergens. Unlike traditional allergy treatments that merely mask symptoms, ExACT Immunoplasty offers a long-term solution that can provide lasting relief for those suffering from allergies. This method has been shown to enhance the efficacy and reducing the treatment time from 3 years to 8 weeks. 

How Aspire Allergy & Sinus Can Help Your Night Allergies

Aspire Allergy & Sinus offers personalized treatments for your allergy profile that can help treat nighttime allergies. We’ve made it our mission to provide cost-effective and convenient treatments that can provide complete relief that lasts. Book your appointment with one of our board-certified allergists to create a custom allergy treatment plan designed for your unique allergy profile, which can include strategies such as identifying the allergens causing your symptoms, avoiding those night allergens, and using medication to manage the symptoms. This personalized approach can help prevent and treat nighttime allergy symptoms.

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