Whether it’s pollen, pet hair, or anything else that’s keeping you up at night, adopting the best position to sleep with allergies can make a significant difference to the quality of your nightly rest.
Allergies – your immune system’s reaction to a foreign substance- can be caused for an infinite number of reasons.
At best, they can be a nuisance.
At worst, they can make your life miserable, especially if they’re messing with your ability to enjoy uninterrupted sleep.
The good news is that no matter what causes your allergies and no matter how severe they may be, this guide contains everything you need to know to stop them from keeping you awake at night.
Below, you’ll learn the best sleep position for allergies, which positions to try and avoid, and other helpful things you can do to get a good night’s rest when your allergies are in full force.
Why are Allergies Worse at Night?
Allergies can be bad enough during the daytime, but if they’re affecting your ability to enjoy a restorative night’s rest, they can often feel even worse.
There are many reasons why your allergies affect you more at night. These include:
1. Congestion is Worse When We Lie Down
While changing from sitting up to lying on your back may be a good way to sleep with a stuffy nose, studies show us that if you’re suffering from allergies, it can actually make things worse.
This is primarily caused by alterations to blow flow and nasal obstruction due to compression of the neck veins and/or the way the pressure exerted by gravity on your nasal fluids, known as hydrostatic pressure.
In other words, the simple act of lying in bed can be enough to make allergy-related congestion flare-up, which is why it’s so important to adopt one of the helpful sleeping positions we’ll look at later in this guide.
2. Your Bedroom is Full of Allergy-Inducers
Did you know that your bedroom may well be a breeding ground for allergens?
The American Lung Association notes that detectable levels of dust mites can be found in an eye-opening four out of five American bedrooms.
Given that dust mites are one of the major causes of allergy symptoms and asthma, it makes sense that this could be the reason why your allergies are stopping you from enjoying the quality sleep you need.
Not that dust mites are the only allergy-inducers found in the bedroom.
Cockroaches -a leading cause of respiratory health issues- may be most commonly found in the kitchen, but they’re almost as prevalent in the bedroom.
Elsewhere, mold and moisture problems in the bedroom, especially in older homes, can also pose a significant risk of causing asthma and other respiratory problems associated with allergies.
3. Your Pets Come to Bed With You
Look, we love snuggling with our beloved furry friends as much as the next person, but if you’re letting your dog or cat into the bed with you at night, that may be the root cause of your allergy-related insomnia.
Cats and dogs deposit allergens into your environment through shedding hair and dander, as well as their saliva. If all that stuff is shedding on your comforter or the carpet around your bedroom, it could well be triggering those late-night allergic reactions.
It isn’t just those animals that you invite into the bedroom, either.
Rodents and cockroaches can also be a problem, with one report finding that Mus m 1, the most common type of mouse allergen, was prevalent in 80.9% of US homes.
4. You Brought Pollen Indoors
Sometimes, the most obvious explanations can be right on the money.
Pollen counts tend to be higher during the day as the sunshine and warm weather encourage plants to release pollen into the air.
This is why the most popular school of thought is that the cool, night-time air is better for pollen-allergy sufferers to enjoy any outdoor activities.
Contradicting this – the evidence does show us that there’s still a significant risk of exposure to certain pollen types during the night.
If we’re out enjoying those late-summer evenings, or if we’ve simply brought a lot of pollen into the house on our clothes, that would likely explain why your symptoms are making you wake up multiple times in the night.
The good news is that whether it’s pets or pollen, rodents or anything else, there’s much you can do to prevent them from interrupting your nightly rest. We’ll share all those with you later in this guide (See Dos and Don’ts), but for now, let’s talk about those all-important sleep positions.
Top 2 Best Sleep Positions for Allergies
There’s an optimum sleep position for practically every condition, and allergies are no different.
1. On Your Back With Your Head Elevated
The number one best way to get some quality shut-eye with allergy-related congestion is to simply sleep with your head elevated on a couple of pillows.
The answer lies with our old friend, gravity.
If you read through the previous section of this guide, you’ll know that lying down flat means there’s no gravity to help your nasal passages drain properly.
Instead, all the mucus just stays where it is, causing your nasal passages to clog up.
If you sleep with your head raised on pillows, that mucus can get moving again, meaning less congestion.
2. Sleep Upright
If sleeping on your back with your head elevated isn’t comfortable for you or simply isn’t working, try taking it to the next level by sleeping in an upright position.
Use more pillows to support your back, neck, and shoulders, and you’ll be one step closer to having a symptom-free night.
Why Sleeping on Your Side May Not be a Good Idea for Allergy Sufferers?
Side sleeping is generally considered to be one of the all-around healthiest sleeping positions, helping to improve spinal alignment, prevent back pain, and even reduce snoring.
If snoring or sleep apnea are common allergy symptoms for you, then you may actually find this helpful.
However, this position can also lead to clogging in the sinuses on the side you’re sleeping on, making things even more unpleasant and uncomfortable.
So, while side-sleeping may be a good idea for some, it can also cause its own problems, which is why it’s always better to at least attempt sleeping with your head raised first.
The Best Way to Sleep With Allergies: Do’s and Don’ts
Raising your head in bed is a great way to start improving your sleep quality while dealing with allergies, but if you’re really going to get the best rest possible, it pays to take note of the following helpful suggestions:
Do: Use an Air Purifier
Numerous studies have shown that using air purifiers in the bedroom can help to reduce allergy symptoms.
In 2018, a study by the Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology (APJAI) found that air purifiers with HEPA filters were the most effective in reducing dust mites and other allergens in the air which, in turn, helps to alleviate allergy symptoms.
In other words, a simple, small investment in a quality air purifier may make the biggest difference, not only because it will help reduce allergens, but also because it will help you maintain the best humidity levels for sleep.
Don’t: Sleep With The Windows and Doors Open
It may be hot in your room, but sleeping with the windows and doors open at night could be setting you for a horrible night of allergy-interrupted sleep.
When the windows are open, there’s a much greater chance that pollen and other allergens can enter the bedroom.
That’s why it’s a much better idea to use air conditioning to stay cool during those hot summer nights.
Do: Regularly Wash Your Bedding
Sheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers can all prove to be a veritable breeding ground for dust mites.
While synthetic pillows and duvets generally hold more allergies than their feather-based counterparts, simply swapping to feather bedding isn’t necessarily going to solve all of your allergy-related problems.
Instead, the best approach is to ensure that you wash your bedding on a regular basis (at least once a week) at 130 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure they’re dust-mite-free.
While you’re at it, be sure to keep any bedroom carpets vacuumed and any surfaces regularly dusted to prevent those malicious mites from setting up home in those areas too.
Don’t: Let Pets into the Bedroom
If you were paying attention earlier, you might recall that pet hair and dander can be some of the significant causes of allergy symptoms.
With that in mind, the simple solution is to keep pets out of the bedroom.
Even if they don’t physically climb into bed with you, simply letting your beloved companion into the room in the first place can be enough for them to leave a trail of allergens behind.
For the best sleep possible then, it’s best to make your bedroom a pet-free zone.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sleeping With Allergies
Does sleeping elevated help allergies?
Yes. Sleeping with your head or upper body in an elevated position can help your sinuses to drain properly and prevent respiratory problems.
Does an air purifier in the bedroom help with allergies?
It can do, yes. Air purifiers with proper HEPA filters can trap allergy inducers in the air so that you can sleep more easily.
What causes allergies in the bedroom?
Dust mites, pets, cockroaches, mold, and moisture problems are among the leading causes of allergies in the bedroom.
The Best Way to Sleep With Allergies: Final Words of Advice
Our aim with this guide was to arm you with all the information and knowledge you need to enjoy quality rest while dealing with allergies, and we hope you’ll agree that we’ve achieved that aim.
By now, you not only know what may be causing your nighttime allergies in the first place but also what you can do to reduce those allergens.
You also know that sleeping with your head and/or body in an elevated position is the best way to sleep to reduce allergy symptoms at night.
Yet if you’ve tried everything we’ve suggested and find that you’re still struggling to sleep well, there are two important things you should consider.
The first is simply consulting your doctor.
If your allergies are more bothersome than most, and especially if they’re having a significant impact on your quality of life as well as your quality of sleep, then a medical professional can help you get to the root cause of the problem and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment.
The second is to consider upgrading your mattress.
After all, a mattress is just as likely to be home to mites and other allergens as the rest of your bedding, and while it may be easy to throw your sheets and pillowcases in the laundry once a week, the same can’t be said for your mattress.
To help you decide which mattress is right for you, check out our guide to the best mattresses on the market.
Finally, our guide on how to develop and maintain a healthy sleep schedule can help you to get the rest your body needs to help fight and prevent your allergens in the first place.