Have you ever started sneezing in the middle of the night? Ever get itchy eyes after 5 minutes of being in your bedroom?
If you have ever experienced these symptoms or any other similar allergy symptoms particularly when you are in your bedroom, you aren’t alone. The bedroom is one of the more common places in your house for allergens.
“What am I allergic to in my bedroom?” you might ask. There are numerous allergens that can make you feel sick but some of the common bedroom allergens including…
- house dust
- pet dander
Unbeknown to most, there a few common places in your bedroom where these allergens can fester.
These various places in your bedroom, of course, can make your allergies much worse than they already are. However, before we get into where these certain allergens might be lurking, it’s important to figure out what you might be allergic to in the first place.
Common allergens found in the bedroom
People can be allergic to pretty much anything. From watermelon to sunlight, the most unlikely things can evoke an allergic reaction in some people.
However, there are a few allergens that are commonly found in your bedroom that most people are affected by.
House dust is by far one of the most common household allergens. No matter how clean your house is there are almost always remnants of house dust scattered about. According to Chemical and Engineering News, house dust is more than just dirt. Rather, it is a mix of dead skin and hair, bacteria, dust mites, tiny pieces of dead bugs, bits of soil, and other miscellaneous particles1.
The makeup of house dust varies of course but there can be certain substances within the dust such as pollen specifically that can make your allergies act up.
Dust mites in particular, which tend to thrive in house dust, are well known to cause serious allergies. These little critters are essentially little bugs, far too small for the eye to see. They tend to live in relatively humid environments and survive by feeding on dead skin. Nonetheless, despite their tiny size, they can cause severe allergies.
Mold is one of the most common fungi and comes in many varieties. Mold can be black, green, white or even purple and can be found outdoors and unfortunately for your allergies… indoors as well2.
Mold tends to grow in warm, humid, and dark environments that often don’t get too much air circulation. In turn, a warm house and muggy house that isn’t ventilated very well is the perfect spot for mold to grow.
Most often, people tend to have allergic reactions to mold spores rather than the mold it’s self. Mold spores are essentially mold seeds released into the air that germinate in the proper conditions. Allergic reactions to mold happen when people breath in these microscopic mold spores released from mold growth close by.
Pet dander is made up of tiny flakes of hair or skin that are often too small to see with the naked eye. These little particles can come from most types of pets including cats, dogs, rodents or even birds3.
However, given that dogs and cats are some of the larger pets most people have, these animals often produce the most pet dander.
Because these allergens are small in size, they can easily get kicked up into the air which of course allows them to be breathed in by people. For those that are severely allergic to cats or dogs, simply breathing in a room where there is prevalent pet dander can easily trigger allergies.
Aside from pet dander, allergens from the feces and urine of pets can also cause allergic reactions.
Anyone who has taken a nice breath of air in the spring as the flowers begin to bloom, only to find themselves sneezing up a storm probably knows about pollen.
Many plants seasonally release pollen into the air to fertilize other plants of the same kind. These pollen particles are often too small to see individually but they drift through the wind nonetheless.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult not to let pollen into your house. Keeping your windows open of course is an easy way to let the substance in but even if the windows are shut, pollen on your clothing can make its way inside.
Of course, pollen is breathed in, those that are sensitive to the substance can have an allergic reaction to it.
VOCs or volatile organic compounds are chemicals found in many household products like cleaning supplies for instance. Naturally, VOCs are much more common indoors than outdoors.
Because these substances are so prevalent, they can be quite difficult to avoid. After all, VOCs can be found anywhere from wood composite furniture to air fresheners to carpets. Fortunately, low exposure to these substances likely won’t be too harmful to your health. Furthermore, depending on how toxic VOCs are, they can be more or less harmful for you. For instance, breathing in the fumes of pesticides is likely to be more harmful to your health as opposed to breathing in the scent of a burning candle. However, everyone has a different sensitivity to VOCs, and ultimately you may not be affected by VOCs at all depending on how much exposure you get to these substances.
Where allergens could be lurking in your bedroom
The allergy symptoms of common bedroom allergens such as house dust, mold, pet dander, pollen, and VOCs are similar for the most part. Sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose are just a few of these common symptoms.
In turn, it can be quite difficult to pinpoint exactly what you might be allergic to in your bedroom purely by trying to determine the allergen based on your symptoms.
However, a better way to figure out what might be causing you discomfort is by figuring out where the source of these allergens might be. From there you can deal with the source of the allergens accordingly to prevent your allergies from continuing to bother you.
There might not be a more irritating place in your bedroom for allergens to fester than your bedding. Furthermore, if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night sneezing or with burning itchy eyes, then allergens in your bed might be the problem.
Most people sleep for at least 7 hours a night. In that time, the heat from your body can create the perfect warm and humid conditions for dust mites to thrive. In turn, your mattress can become a haven for dust mites and an allergy nightmare for you. Since you breathe so close to your mattress as you sleep, its quite easy to breathe in these allergens.
Lastly, mold also commonly develops on mattresses. Look on both sides of your mattress and everywhere in between and if you find some, its almost certain that the mold is whats irritating you.
One of the most unexpected things you might have in your bedroom that you might be allergic to are house plants.
Some house plants pollinate just like various other plants outside. This can be a huge problem for anyone who has particularly sensitive pollen allergies particularly since in a closed-off room, pollen can’t easily leave your house.
This isn’t as much of an issue with leafy plants but any flowers that pollinate might be more of a concern.
Additionally, given that you must water most houseplants somewhat regularly, the moist microclimates of house plants can be perfect spots for mold growth. Mold, of course, also can trigger your allergies, so be mindful of mold growth on your plant and the soil it is contained in.
Furniture and chemicals
There are dozens of pieces of furniture and chemicals in your bedroom that may release airborne chemicals such as VOCs. Your furniture is particularly prone to release VOCs if it is brand new. Bending down and smelling a brand new carpet might bring you joy knowing that it practically came straight from where it was manufactured. However, that “new carpet smell” is really the smell of VOCs radiating from the recently processed material.
Carpets are just one example, however. Any piece of furniture or material processed by chemicals can have VOCs that can potentially promote allergy-like symptoms. Consequently, if you have recently painted your room, chances are you will quite literally be surrounded by these VOCs.
Ironically, if you have used cleaning products in your bedroom to try to make it more allergy-free, chances are that you have released a storm of VOCs into the air.
Keep in mind, however, that not everyone has allergy-like symptoms to VOCs. There are also different schools of thought on how damaging VOCs might actually be. However, if you have just recently refurnished your bedroom, and you are just starting to feel allergy-like symptoms, VOCs could quite possibly be to blame.
Pet beds… and pets
Dogs and cats are awesome… except when they give you allergies.
If you allow your cat or dog to hop up on your bed to sleep with you, this can be another reason why you might be having an allergic reaction to your bed. Pet dander can rub off right into your bedding and continue to irritate you even when your pets aren’t around.
Alternatively, if you have a pet bed in your room that your dog or cat sleeps on at night, this also can be a major source of pet dander that irritates you beyond belief.
You might not necessarily feel allergy symptoms from your pets if you don’t spend much time with them outside of your room. However, your allergies really might act up after spending the whole night in the same room with them.
Your bedroom windows can be great for airing out your bedroom and hopefully flushing out those unwanted allergens. However, windows can be a double-edged sword so to speak. They have the capacity to let allergens in.
Opening your windows during the spring or summer months can let plenty of pollen to enter your bedroom. Of course, for pollen allergy sufferers this is the last thing they want. In turn, a window filter might be necessary in order to keep the pollen out.
In addition, condensation around your window and humid air flowing in from the outside can make windows and window sills excellent spots for mold to grow. Filling your bedroom with humid air from the outside can also make mold more likely to grow in other parts of your room. Dust mites thrive in humid environments as well.
Under the right conditions, it can be quite easy for allergens to thrive in your bedroom. Of course, this can make sleeping and life in general unpleasant.
Fortunately, there are simple methods you can try today to make your bedroom allergy-free. Yes, there are quick and easy fixes to solving your allergy problems such as taking out the dog bed if you find out that you are a little allergic to your dog. However, there are certainly more thorough approaches to making your room allergy-free.
For an in-depth approach to eliminating allergens for better sleep, check out this ultimate guide to allergy-proofing your bedroom.
- “Tracing the chemistry of household dust.” www.cen.acs.org, https://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i7/Tracing-chemistry-household-dust.html
- “What is mold.” www.webmd.com, https://www.webmd.com/women/qa/what-is-mold
- “Pet Dander.” www.lung.org, https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/indoor-air-pollutants/pet-dander.html