Coping with seasonal allergies to rest and sleep

Pollen! Pollenpollenpollenpllenpollenpollenpollen!

Nature is spewing fine powdery stuff onto your car, animal fur, insects, hair, clothes, nostrils, and lungs. It cascades from male cones and flower parts to reproduce with the plants’ female ovules.

Sexy, right? Not if you’re exhausted from an allergy attack.

It’s hard to rest when you can’t breathe, have itchy eyes, irritating coughs, and sneeze so often you sound like a drum roll….

On top of that, your body’s anti-allergy chemicals (like histamine) stimulate wakeful receptors in your brain’s hypothalamus.

Still, you don’t have to wait until next winter to sleep.

By keeping pollen out of your house, your room, and your bed, you’ll have a better chance it won’t invade your nostrils, lungs, and eyes. I’ve gathered these tips to keep your nights more sneeze-free and restful.

For pollen out of the house

Keep more pollen outside (where it can find those plants to fertilize):

  • On days with high pollen or ragweed counts, stay inside as much as possible.
  • If you head outside, do it when the pollen counts are lowest – usually before dawn and in the late afternoon to early evening. Check Pollen.com or online weather sites for pollen levels in your area.
  • Keep windows closed and air-conditioning on. This also lowers humidity, which helps. If you don’t have AC, keep your curtains closed and wash or vacuum them as often as possible.
  • Remove your shoes (some suggest keeping them outside) and even change your clothes right when you come in the house.
  • Vacuum often with ones that remove allergens from the air. Empty or change the vacuum bag outside.
  • Brush your pets and wipe their paws when they enter, and vacuum that space. Bathe pets often, and consider keeping them in restricted areas of your house.

For pollen out of the bedroom

Increase the pollen-free levels in your bedroom:

  • Change into your PJs outside your bedroom, especially if these are clothes you wore outside. And don’t bring the clothes back into the room!
  • Before you go to bed, take a shower to wash allergens off your skin and hair so you won’t sleep on a pollen-leaden pillowcase. Hair products can be a magnet for pollen. (If you take a hot shower, make sure you have enough time for your body to cool back down, which will help you sleep.)
  • Wash your sheets in hot water to get rid of allergen buildup.
  • Give indoor/outdoor pets beds of their own during allergy season. If they can sleep outside your bedroom, all the better.
  • Consider investing in a room air purifier or dehumidifier to keep your sleeping air as clean and dry as possible.


Strengthen your body’s responses inside and out

You can have an impact on your body’s responses to pollen:

  • Try a neti pot to clean your nasal passages: You pour saline solution in one nostril and it comes out the other one (along with pollen and other gunk). I use mine daily, but if you’re not a fan, saline spray can also help. Eye drops, saline or otherwise, rinse pollen from your eyes.
  • Steam your head – a hot shower helps, but direct steam is strong medicine. Drape a towel over your head and over a pot of steaming (but not boiling) water, off heat. Take breaks as needed when it’s too hot. Add a drop of eucalyptus oil, if you’re stuffy. Or try facial steam inhalators.
  • Eat foods like apples and garlic, which contain antioxidants that appear to suppress the production of histamine. Nuts and fish contain fatty acids that help lower inflammation (those following a Mediterranean-style diet are less likely to have allergy symptoms).
  • Fermented foods like plain yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi promote a healthy immune system to reduce the body’s response to allergens.
  • Skip the nightcap. Alcohol can make common hay fever symptoms like sneezing, itching, and coughing even more uncomfortable, particularly for women.
  • Consider immunotherapy – exposing your immune system to tiny amounts of the thing that you’re allergic to. Over time, it teaches your immune system that the allergens aren’t foreign invaders, so it doesn’t need to react with an allergic response.
  • Practice stress-reducing techniques – yoga, meditation, soothing music, journaling. Living with high chronic stress negatively impacts your immune system, and that only exacerbates your already stressful seasonal symptoms.


Change your relationship with allergies to rest

Along with getting physical distance from pollen, internally support your healing and increase your calm.

I often guide my clients through a healing body response using all the senses, from what you see, hear, feel, and perceive.

  • Take a moment to take a gentle breath… settle in… and visualize magical sprays or mists infusing where the allergies are affecting you. Notice the color, density, temperature, movement, and feeling of the sprays. Sense them dissipating the intensity of your allergic response. Feel them soothing itchy eyes, unblock stuffed sinuses, etc. Let the soothing mists bring moments of relaxation and calm, which continue to grow.

No, visualization is not an instant cure, but it does provide a healing focus which helps move you to rest. And resting helps support your body’s response to that proliferous pollen.

Let me know how these tips affect your spring nights.

Wishing you restful nights,


P.S. The best part of my week is helping people learn to rest, so they can reduce anxiety and live the life they crave.

I have space for more clients, and a  free consultation is the place to see if we’re a good fit – for you, a family member, co-worker, or friend.
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  • Maria Mar

    Thank you Sondra, I’ve sent it to a friend who has allergies and problems sleeping and posted it in FB. Lots of good tips.

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