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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

Allergens Keeping Many Americans Up at Night

Published September 24, 2015 2:28 PM by ADVANCE for Respiratory Care & Sleep Medicine

Three-quarters of U.S. adults experience occasional to frequent sleep disruptions, according to a new survey from AllerEase. (

Respondents to the summer survey of 1,015 adults in the U.S. cited several possible causes, including temperature-related discomfort or needing to use the bathroom and experiencing allergy symptoms. The survey also revealed roughly one-quarter of adults wake up feeling well-rested rarely or never.   

"That unrested feeling can be caused in part by household allergens lurking in your bed," says Dr. Neeta Ogden, MD, a board certified adult and pediatric allergy and asthma specialist. "Many of my patients are surprised to learn that household allergens are more pervasive than outdoor allergens, and can have a real impact on sleep."

Serious sleep disorders aside, almost six in 10 U.S. adults (57%) say they suffer from seasonal or environmental allergies, and 42 percent say they've woken with allergy-like symptoms in the last month.

"My top recommendation for those suffering from respiratory congestion at night is to try a three-step plan: use zippered allergen barrier bed protectors, nasal saline spray, and remove allergens from your bedroom, such as pets and carpets," says Dr. Ogden. "Simple changes can have a year-round impact on quality sleep and living."

Many Americans try over-the-counter medicines, use humidifiers/dehumidifiers and wash bedding to help improve their sleep, but less than 10 percent use zippered allergen barrier mattress protectors, which can help prevent the collection of dead skin cells, dust mites and household allergens in plush surfaces like bedding and pillows.

Other tips to improve sleep environment include:

  • Wash bedding once per week, including comforters and duvet covers, to prevent household allergens from collecting in plush surfaces
  • Wash pillows monthly, or replace them every six months, if they are non-washable
  • Limit liquids and snacks close to bedtime to avoid overnight bathroom breaks
  • Identify optimal sleep temperature and adjust fan, heat or air-conditioning accordingly
What other tips do you have for eliminating potential allergens and creating the optimal sleep environment?

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