Google searches for ‘sleeping with hay fever’ are up 200% in the last three months as the pollen count skyrocketed across the UK.
Leading bed retailer, Bensons for Beds, has indexed average temperatures, wind speeds, and hay fever and sleep-related Google searches across the UK from June-September to reveal the cities most likely to experience problems sleeping due to hay fever this year.
Norwich ranked the city the most at risk of losing sleep due to hay fever this year, scoring full marks on the data index. Research shows the population here does the most searches related to hay fever and snoring, with 15 monthly searches per 100k of the population.
While research shows that Newcastle does the most searches around hay fever and sleep, with 21 searches made monthly per 100k of the population.
The research also suggests pollen counts will likely be at their worst in Glasgow in August. Elsewhere, pollen counts will likely peak in Liverpool in September.
Benson’s resident sleep expert, Dr Sophie Bostock, advises a good night’s sleep when suffering from allergies.
Reduce exposure to allergens
This sounds obvious, but look for ways to avoid letting allergens into the bedroom.
- Many people sleep with their pets in the bedroom without realising they are allergic to them. Pets may be lovable, but they tend to be disruptive to sleep, so I’d recommend making the bedroom a pet-free zone.
- Dust and vacuum your bedroom regularly, and wash the bedding at least once a week in hot water to reduce the build-up of dust mites.
- If you suffer from hay fever, leave the windows closed if you can, and instead, use a fan to keep air circulating.
- Leave your shoes and clothes outside the bedroom and shower before bed to wash off allergens such as pollen.
- If you are allergic to pollen, check the pollen count each day during hay fever season, and consider limiting your time outside when the count is high.
- Consider using hypoallergenic mattresses and pillow protectors impermeable to dust mites.
- You could also buy an air filter which removes pollen from the air.
To limit nasal congestion, you may find sleeping on your side helpful or lying on your back with your head propped up by pillows.
Allergy medication and treatment
Anti-allergy medication is sold over the counter at most pharmacies. Check with your pharmacist or doctor if you are uncertain whether this would suit you – it will depend on the nature of your allergy and any other medication you are taking.
Most allergy medication contains antihistamines to block the effects of histamine. This can have a drowsy-inducing effect. Side effects may include a dry mouth, nose or throat, headaches, daytime fatigue, visual disturbances or confusion. Some anti-allergy products also include decongestants, which can have a stimulant effect on the heart.
Some people build up a tolerance to antihistamines when taken regularly; in other words, the medication may become less effective over time. Antihistamines can also block the action of an important neurotransmitter for learning and memory (acetylcholine), and some studies have suggested that long-term use of antihistamines could increase the risks of cognitive decline.
Always check the instructions on the packet to see how long it is recommended to take the medication and how often.
If you are struggling with allergy symptoms, speak to your doctor. They may refer you to a specialist who can discuss alternative treatments, such as allergy shots or immunotherapy, where you gradually manage exposure to the allergen over time.
Develop consistent sleep habits, and protect time for sleep
There is some evidence that short or disrupted sleep can worsen the severity of allergies. Of course, this could lead to a negative cycle, where lack of sleep worsens symptoms, making it even harder to catch up on sleep.
While you may not be able to control all your allergy symptoms, you can take other steps to improve your sleep quality, such as waking up at the same time every day, finishing your evening meal at least two hours before getting into bed, having a consistent bedtime routine and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon.