Bad allergies can make it extremely difficult to get a good nights rest.
There is nothing worse than waking up with a completely stuffed up nose or having a sneezing fit in the middle of the night.
Unfortunately, however, there are dozens of common allergens that you tend to find in the bedroom. Given that most people spend at least 7 hours a night sleeping in their bedroom though, your bedroom is probably the last place in your house where you want allergens to fester.
Luckily, there are a few simple but effective ways to alleviate this problem. This post covers how to allergy-proof your bedroom from top to bottom so that you can sleep better and feel more energized to take on the next day.
But first how exactly does your indoor air quality affect your sleep?
How indoor air quality and allergens affect your sleep
If you have ever woken up feeling especially groggy after your allergies started to act up the evening before, you probably know personally that allergies can affect sleep. But how exactly? What is it about allergies that hurt our quality of sleep?
For one, falling asleep with bad allergies can be uncomfortable. Itchy eyes for instance can be irritating as you try to drift off to sleep. In addition, having a stuffed up nose can make breathing difficult.
Even after managing to get to sleep with allergies, its common for severe allergies to wake you up in the middle of the night and disrupt your sleep. Waking up abruptly to find yourself sneezing over and over, or waking up because due to a stuffed up nose is common. Instances like these interrupt your much needed deep sleep and are quite uncomfortable as well.
It’s also important to note that if your bedroom contains many allergens, being exposed to this living space for 7-9 hours as you sleep can make your allergies much worse by the time you wake up. You might find yourself even more groggy and irritated in the morning than before you went to bed1. Ultimately, the worse your allergies are, the worse the quality of your sleep will be.
In addition, the National Sleep Foundation claims that various sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and snoring can develop as a result of allergies as well2.
Common bedroom allergens
Although people can be allergic to practically anything, there are a few bedroom allergens that are particularly common.
This is an allergen that you can find in practically every household no matter how clean it might be. House dust tends to be a mix of bacteria, soil particles, tiny pieces of fabric, pieces of dead bugs, dead skin and hair, pollen, animal dander. Of course, house dust can vary in composition depending on the home. Regardless, house dust is almost always a collection of other allergy-causing substances.
Dust mites are spider-like bugs that are too small for the naked eye to see. When breathed in however they can cause allergies. These little bugs typically live in humid climates and feed off of dead skin. You can find dust mites commonly in bedding, your carpet, and in house dust.
Many plants release pollen into the air at certain times during the year. If you have ever developed itchy eyes and a runny nose in the spring then you probably already know the effects of the stuff. Unfortunately, however, it’s pretty difficult to keep pollen completely out of the house.
Cockroaches shed skin, and leave droppings and saliva wherever they live. In turn, the waste of cockroaches in your room can easily trigger your allergies. Unfortunately, because of their resilience, cockroaches are difficult to get rid of and chances are if you have a cockroach problem, it’s important to get that taken care of before anything else.
Pet dander is made up from tiny bits of dead skin and hair from pets: most commonly cats and dogs. However, if you have pet rodents or birds of any kind, these animals can produce pet dander as well. When people allow their pets to sleep in their room at night with them, the pet dander from these animals can become much more prevalent in the bedroom.
Mold often grows in humid environments that don’t get too much air circulation. Mold spores are essentially like “mold seeds” that float through the air until they find a solid surface with the right conditions for them to grow. Breathing in these mold spores is what causes mold allergies so it is important to take care of mold in your room right away before it spreads even more.
Volatile organic compounds or VOCs are chemicals found in numerous household products. They are incredibly common indoors and pretty difficult to avoid. However, VOCs have been known to trigger allergy-like symptoms. Not everyone develops these allergy-like symptoms but VOCs can be damaging depending on the type and amount of exposure.
6 things to remove from your bedroom that create allergens
Before you get into cleaning your bedroom to remove any traces of allergens, it is first important to remove the common bedroom items that store and produce allergens.
House plants often produce pollen that can be responsible for your allergies. The pollen produced by a few house plants might not seem like much but in a small enclosed space like a bedroom, they can stir up allergies all the same. This is not to say that all house plants produce allergy-causing pollen. However, any flowers should most certainly be taken out of your bedroom given that they tend to pollinate more than other types of plants.
For your health’s sake, it is important to establish a “no pets in the bedroom” policy. Yes, cuddling with your dog in your bed might feel comforting, but the pet dander that your pets give off can really trigger your allergies. Additionally, if your pets have pet beds in your room it is important to remove those as well. Dried saliva and pet dander are often super concentrated in these places.
It’s always good practice to keep food out of your bedroom. That means storing food and eating food should be done elsewhere. Eating food in your bedroom can make bugs such as cockroaches more likely to breed in your bedroom and feed off of crumbs and remnants of your food.
Cigarettes contain many toxic ingredients that cause allergy-like symptoms for some people. Cigarette smoke can also set in curtains and other furniture which can make allergens in cigarette more prevalent around your bedroom. That being said, if you or anyone else you live with is a smoker and you seem to be affected by the smoke and cigarettes, its probably best to avoid smoking in your bedroom.
VOC emitting products
It can be really tricky to pinpoint what product in your room may have VOCs in them that might be causing you allergies. However, if you have recently put in new carpet, or polyester curtains, for instance, there might be some new air-borne chemicals released causing allergy-like symptoms.
Clutter or just a bunch of unneeded “stuff” in your bedroom is commonly where dust accumulates. It’s the miscellaneous possessions in the back of your bedroom that you never even use that can become caked with dust. Rows of books, office supplies, trash and old electrical appliances that you don’t necessarily even need simply don’t need to be in your bedroom (or your house for that matter). In addition, putting allergens aside, simply having a messy room, in general, has been deemed hurt your sleep quality as well.
Completely removing allergens from your bedroom
Once you have cleared out all of the things in your bedroom where allergens can accumulate, you can then purify your bedroom of all the remaining allergens.
Dealing with mold
If you have a mold problem in your bedroom, this should be the first thing you should address. Mold can be terrible for your health and should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Although the approach to removing mold will really vary depending on where the mold is growing and how severe it is, you can typically remove mold with a brush and a bleach-water mold removing solution.
To remove mold growing on your window sill for instance, first put on a mask so that you don’t breathe in mold spores as you clean. Fill up a small bucket with water and a splash of bleach. Next, take a coarse brush, dip it into the water and bleach solution and scrub away at the moldy spots of the window sill. Scrub until all remnants of the mold are gone and then simply let the solution dry on the window sill as is.
In any moldy area that you clean be sure to be as thorough as possible. Also, examine the area carefully for more mold since it can grow in unexpected places.
There is a whole host of allergens that can be hiding in your carpet. Pet dander, dust mites, and pollen are just a few that can reside all over the floor without you knowing.
Naturally, the best way to cleanse your room of these allergens is by vacuuming. Don’t use just any vacuum though. Unbagged vacuums can sometimes make your allergies worse. The filters in these vacuums are able to collect most bits of debris and particles, however many of these filters can’t collect some of the finer particles. Instead, superfine particles like dust can be spewed out the back of these vacuums and up into the air. Obviously, a bunch of dust and pollen newly released back into the air is horrible for your allergies.
In turn, you should most certainly use a vacuum with an attached bag. Vacuum bags can collect and trap nearly all dust, pollen, and other particles. Once you are finished vacuuming you can simply dump out the bag into the trash. Of course, just make sure that trash can is outside of your bedroom.
Washing bedding or replacing it with hypo-allergenic material
Dust mites, as well as other allergens, are often found in bedding. To get rid of these allergens you can put your bedding in the wash and then dryer soon after.
Additionally, if you have curtains in your room, it’s not a bad idea to wash those as well. Curtains seem to be magnets for dust and other allergens and so even if you can’t see evidence of allergens on them, it’s always good to wash them anyway.
Alternatively, instead of just washing the bedding you may want to upgrade to hypoallergenic bedding instead. Hypoallergenic sheets, blankets, and pillow covers are made from special anti-microbial fabric that is resistant to dust mites, mold and other allergens that collect on your bedding.
A hypoallergenic mattress cover can also be extremely beneficial since this material can further help to protect you from allergens in your mattress. Mattresses can be excellent spots for dust mites to thrive. Not only that but from years of sleeping on your mattress, oil, sweat and dead skin from your body can build up in your mattress. You can’t really clean this substance out. However, a hypoallergenic mattress cover is excellent for providing another barrier of anti-microbial protection.
Getting a good air purifier is an excellent way to remove practically any allergens in your room.
In everyday life when we are moving about, sitting down, standing up, picking things up and putting them down, we unknowingly kick dust, pollen, and other allergens up into the air. Even air that circulates around the room naturally through ventilation can carry allergens with it.
Air purifiers are designed to trap these allergens that are kicked up and floating through the air and remove them from the air. By running an air purifier continuously you can collect many of the allergens floating around your room. Some models even purify the air of smoke and VOCs.
However not all air purifiers are created equally. Some just aren’t that good at removing allergens. Ideally, you want to look for one that has a HEPA filter. HEPA filters are the equivalent to the gold standard for removing allergens from the air. These filters are incredibly fine and are capable of removing even the smallest particles from the air.
Additionally, you don’t want an air purifier that creates ozone. Ozone is great for breaking down odors and killing germs however, it can be quite irritating for your lungs and is not great to breathe in.
On any given surface in your bedroom, there could be allergens that have been accumulating for months. For instance, these surfaces could be…
- lamp shades
- window sills
- closet space
- and many other places…
By cleaning off these surfaces with disinfectant wipes or a rag spritzed with cleaning solution, you can remove these allergens. You don’t need to go overboard and wipe down every inch of your bedroom. However, by at least cleaning some of these neglected surfaces that have been accumulating dust for some time, you can significantly reduce the amount of these irritating substances.
Depending on how severe the amount of allergens on these surfaces is, it might be a good idea to wear a cleaning mask since many of these allergens can get kicked up into the air as you clean. Additionally, its good to run an air purifier at the same time to remove the particles that do happen to get kicked up.
Keeping your bedroom allergy free
Once you have cleansed your bedroom from top to bottom of all allergens, you will have created the perfect environment for sleep.
However, once you have allergy proofed your bedroom there are certain measures you can take to keep it allergy-free.
Keeping your windows shut
Keeping your windows shut especially in the spring and summertime is important for preventing allergens from entering your bedroom.
Although you can’t always tell, pollen is constantly being carried by the wind and can easily enter your bedroom through your window. Given that pollen is one of the most common allergens, for health’s sake, it’s important to keep your window shut or install a filter that can catch this pollen.
However, with a closed-off window, it’s important to make sure your room still has enough air circulation. A stuffed up room can be just as bad as one filled with allergens. A simple way to keep circulating your room’s air is by running a fan and keeping your bedroom door open.
When it comes to keeping your bedroom allergy-free, humidity is the enemy.
Mold is much more capable of growing and spreading in a humid environment especially in spots where condensation develops. Dust mites also thrive in humid environments. Both of these allergens can affect your health. Not only that but humidity also can make breathing a bit more uncomfortable which makes getting to sleep less pleasant.
A simple way to reduce humidity is simply by using a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers extract moisture from the air which can bring the humidity down in your room significantly. Some dehumidifiers can even be adjusted to stop dehumidifying once a certain level of humidity is reached. This way you can create the perfect humidity level for sleep.
Start showering at night
Instead of showering in the morning, try showering at night instead.
Throughout the day, whether you realize it or not, if you spend at least some time outside you may pick up a bit of pollen on your clothing, hair, and body. If you work in an office, it’s entirely possible that you can pick up some dust as well.
Either way, these allergens that stick to your clothing can irritate your allergies. Going to bed this way can allow you to leave allergens on your bed and pillow. To avoid this, simply shower at night instead of the morning. Doing so will leave your body allergen-free.
Be sure however to dry off your body and hair completely since bringing moisture into bed is more likely to promote mold growth.
There are many approaches mentioned here to allergy-proof your bedroom.
Do you need to follow through with all of them you might ask?
Not at all. By following all the methods suggested you can do an amazing job at allergy proofing your room, but it is up to you to determine which methods might be most effective for your situation.
For instance, if you have some cotton sheets, you might not necessarily need to buy hypoallergenic sheets. Fibers like cotton or silk are naturally hypoallergenic and so buying new sheets specifically labeled as hypoallergenic might not be worth the money.
On the other hand, if you do happen to have mold lurking in the corner of your room, under no circumstances should you neglect this. You really can’t dismiss mold in your bedroom since it can without a doubt make you quite ill.
Is it possible to remove all allergens from your bedroom completely? Not quite. No matter what, there will always be some trace of dust or other allergens. However, by taking the necessary precautions you can get pretty close.
- “Allergic rhinitis and its consequences on quality of sleep: An unexplored area.” www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16983053?dopt=AbstractPlus
- “Allergies and Sleep” www.sleepfoundation.org, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/allergies-and-sleep