Although spring is usually associated with the most allergies, some of us suffer year round.
And allergies—to pets, feathers, dust, pollen, or fragrances—can really interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.
Some people find relief with over-the-counter allergy medication, but I don’t like to use them. Not only are they expensive to use on a daily basis, but common side effects include dry mouth, dry eyes, and dry sinuses, which just increase my discomfort.
So I’ve settled on these three things that have helped me sleep better with allergies.
1. A neti pot
A neti pot is an inexpensive and drug-free option to treat allergy nose or allergic rhinitis. It uses a salt (saline) solution and gravity to gently rinse away allergens or viruses, and loosen mucus so you can clear your nose more effectively.
It can be used safely several times a day.
When my allergies are acting up, I use my neti pot just before going to bed.
2. Breathe Right strips
It’s amazing to me how well this simple invention works! If my nasal passages are swollen from my allergies (or a cold), these strips open them right up.
At first I was worried about a skin reaction from the adhesive, which is quite strong, but even though I have sensitive skin, I have never had a problem. I find them easy to remove, as well.
Because the name brand can be expensive, I prefer the generics and they work just fine.
3. Steroid nasal spray
Flonase (fluticasone) is probably the most common brand name spray, but there are cheaper generic versions available.
The corticosteroid reduces inflammation.
The recommended dosing is twice a day for adults, but I use it once at bedtime, after the neti pot and before the nasal strip 🙂
The most common side effect is a bloody nose from nasal dryness and thinning of the nasal tissue. But that is much less likely if the spray is only used occasionally.
As with any over-the-counter drug, read the safety information and follow the directions!
When to seek help
If your sleep partner reports you snore, or you’re constantly waking up feeling lousy with a headache and dry mouth, consider talking to your care provider to rule out obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Allergies can certainly exacerbate OSA, but you may have OSA even when the allergies are treated.
OSA is most common in overweight, middle-aged men, but thin people can get it, too.
After menopause, women are just as likely to suffer from OSA because the throat muscles lose tone just like the rest of the body.
Left untreated, OSA can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart arrhythmias, so it’s worthwhile to get checked out.