Man in bed suffering from nighttime allergies

Why Do Allergies Act Up at Night & How to Soothe Nighttime Allergies

For people who suffer from allergies, the evening hours are often the most uncomfortable and symptomatic. Seasonal allergies have a way of disrupting sleep and making individuals feel groggy and unproductive the next day. It is very difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep while experiencing nasal congestion, breathing problems, coughing, and mucous in the back of the throat. Therefore, it is common to toss and turn all night and start the new day feeling exhausted and fatigued. Here is a discussion of why allergy symptoms at night are common and what allergy sufferers can do to prevent and treat nighttime allergies.

Why Are Allergies Worse at Night?

It may surprise some people to learn that pollen levels are sometimes highest during the nighttime hours. As the temperature drops after dark, pollen in the air settles from the day and finds its way back to the ground. Depending on the types of pollen that impact your symptoms, night time may actually be worse for you.1 Pillows that are old also tend to harbor dust mites, which are very allergenic. An old mattress may also be to blame for nighttime allergies, as well as sleeping with pets in the bed.3,4
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Nighttime Triggers of Allergy Symptoms

Many allergy sufferers wonder what is happening in the environment that triggers their symptoms more prominently at night. Pollen, dust mites, and animal dander are the most common triggers for nighttime allergies and the symptoms they cause.3,4 Runny nose is a very common nighttime allergy symptom, as well as nasal congestion that makes breathing through the nose very difficult. Coughing also keeps allergy sufferers up at night when mucous drains from the nasal cavity into the throat. People with nighttime allergies often complain about itchy and watery eyes that prevent them from getting a restful night’s sleep.4

How to Prevent Allergy Attacks at Night

Fortunately, there are some preventative measures that allergy sufferers can take before going to bed to avoid allergy attacks at night. In case indoor allergies are to blame, it is a good idea to toss out old pillows and buy new ones to eliminate the presence of dust mites and their waste. To avoid outdoor pollen, make sure to close windows before going to bed so that is doesn’t seep inside. Also, change clothes and take a shower before going to bed so that outdoor allergens aren’t brought into bed. Make sure to wash sheets in hot water at least once per week for further dust mite protection, and set up beds for pets in a different room to reduce the amount of pet dander in the bedroom environment.2

How to Ease Nighttime Allergies

Even with all these special precautions taken to avoid nighttime allergies, treatment may be necessary to ease the discomfort they cause after dark. Other nighttime treatment recommendations include steroid nasal sprays, antihistamines, and nasal decongestant sprays. It is always frustrating to have to get up in the middle of the night to treat allergies, but diagnosing the cause of the allergies and finding an effective treatment strategy can make the evening hours much more relaxing and peaceful.
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References for Why Do Allergies Act Up at Night & How to Soothe Nighttime Allergies

  1. Grewling, Ł., Bogawski, P., & Smith, M. (2016). Pollen nightmare: elevated airborne pollen levels at night. Aerobiologia, 32(4), 725–728. Retrieved on September 14, 2019 from
  2. National Jewish Health. Good Night’s Sleep Despite Allergies. Retrieved on September 14, 2019 from
  3. National Sleep Foundation. Am I Allergic to My Bed? Retrieved on September 14, 2019 from
  4. National Sleep Foundation. Cant Sleep? These Allergens Might Be The Reason Why. Retrieved on September 14, 2019 from
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