Summer is finally here. A time for picnics in the park, sunny days at the beach and topping up your tan. But if you’re one of the 13 million people in the UK who suffer from hay fever, the chances are that you associate summer more with streaming eyes, an itchy throat and a stuffy nose.
If you find that your hay fever symptoms are affecting your sleep, you’re not alone. Many people find themselves sneezing at night, meaning they struggle to get a good night’s rest. There are, however, a few simple steps you can follow to try to relieve your symptoms and set yourself up for a peaceful sleep.
What is hay fever and what causes it?
Known medically as allergic rhinitis, hay fever is characterised by cold-like symptoms, including a blocked or runny nose, sneezing and itchiness. Hay fever symptoms often emerge during the summer, when seasonal allergens like tree or grass pollen are in the environment.
These allergens contain proteins that can cause swelling or irritation in the nose, throat or eyes. As the body tries to rid itself of the pollen, it causes the nose to run or eyes to feel itchy.
People of all ages can be affected by hay fever, with symptoms usually starting young. You’re also more likely to suffer from hay fever if you have other allergies, including asthma.
Why are my symptoms worse in the evening?
If you find that your hay fever symptoms seem particularly bad at night, you may have an allergy to dust mites. This is because mite allergens can be present in your bedding, carpets or curtains, causing you to sneeze or have a blocked or runny nose when you’re trying to sleep.
Are your hay fever symptoms worse at night, and don’t seem to go away during cooler times of the year when the pollen count is lower? This could be a sign that you’re suffering from perennial allergic rhinitis, inflammation of the inside of the nose caused by allergens such as dust mites.
Tips to manage your hay fever at night
There’s no known cure for hay fever, but many people find that taking antihistamines or steroids – as directed by a doctor – can help prevent the body’s reaction to allergens and reduce the symptoms.
To help alleviate your symptoms at night and ensure you get a good night’s rest, try changing your clothes and having a shower or bath in the evening. This will help get rid of any pollen or other allergens that might be on your clothes, hair or skin.
It’s also recommended that you close your windows at night, to avoid pollen entering your bedroom while you sleep.
Try keeping pets out of your bedroom to cut down on potential allergens, making sure that they have a separate pet bed so they don’t end up sharing yours. Dust mites can’t survive in hypoallergic duvets, pillows and mattresses, so choosing these for your bed can also help give you a comfortable night’s sleep.
By carefully considering your bedroom environment and taking care to reduce potential allergens, you’re more likely to get the restful night’s sleep you deserve.