It’s not enough that hay fever interferes with summer fun, it’s also at the root of many a sleepless night too – studies show that hay fever sufferers are more than twice as likely to experience disturbed or poor sleep than those who don’t have allergies.
What's more, poor sleep can lead to elevated histamine levels which can make hay fever symptoms even worse during the day.
In Research by the American Medical Association among 350 people with hay fever, almost half struggled to fall asleep and 51% woke during the night. A third woke earlier than they wanted, a whopping 46% snored and almost all reported feeling like they hadn’t had good sleep on waking.
It’s pretty difficult to avoid pollen in the day time – you’re more likely to be outside, close to trees and grass - but you’d think you’d be safe from it once you’re tucked up in bed. So why are you bunged up, itchy and struggling to breathe when it’s time for lights out?
During the day, tiny pollen grains are carried higher into the air on warm air currents but as evening falls and the air cools, it showers back down to nose level and settles on clothes and surfaces causing havoc for all of us with seasonal allergies.
Depending on where you live, your night time symptoms may kick in at different times. In rural, less urban areas pollen showers may happen a couple of hours before they do in the city. In built-up areas the warmth of buildings keeps the air hotter for longer delaying pollen showers until later in the evening.
If your hay fever or allergies are keeping you awake, here are a few things you can try to help you breathe easier at night.
Keep the windows shut – easier said than done on a hot summer night but if you can keep the pollen outside the bedroom it’s a good start.
Shower before bedtime – it washes away pollen that may have settled on your skin or become trapped in hair and clothes.
Dry bed linen and PJs inside – use an indoor airer or tumble drier to avoid pollen becoming trapped on line-dried laundry
Keep pets out of the bedroom – pet dander can trigger allergies
Try essential oils – Some essential oils can be helpful in supporting clear, easier breathing and better sleep. Oils like lavender, camomile, clove leaf, eucalyptus and lemon have been shown in studies to have useful aromatherapeutic properties.