Allergies Going Haywire? Here's How to Create an Allergy-Proof Bedroom
You can be an allergy sufferer and still get a good night’s sleep.
Your bedroom is supposed to be your sanctuary, a place where you can relax, unwind, and watch many hours of Netflix with no judgment. However, that's easier said than done for an allergy sufferer. How is one supposed to feel at peace when they're plagued with incessant sneezing and a ticklish nose?
If your allergies always act up at home, or you frequently wake up with nightmarish sinuses, your bedroom is probably to blame. It's chock-full of the most common indoor allergens, from mold and dander to the collection of dust mites rallying on your bedsheets. Since these dust mites (actually, their excrement) love beds that provide warmth, humidity, and food (i.e., our dead skin cells), our supposed sanctuary is also theirs.
If you're not sure what's causing your symptoms, you might want to start with an allergy test first. "When it comes to allergies, knowledge is power," says Jeffrey S. Dlott, MD, MS, senior medical director for Quest Diagnostics. "It's important to have a better understanding of any conditions you may have in order to improve behaviors for your health." These days, doing that is easier than ever with at-home kits that allow you to test yourself for indoor allergies right at home. Platforms like QuestDirect Indoor Respiratory Allergy Panel can provide results within three to five days and help identify specific triggers.
If your results come back positive for indoor allergens like dust mites, it's time to turn your attention to the bedroom. Properly preparing your bed can help alleviate those pesky sneezing bouts and allow for more restful, uninterrupted sleep during the hours you spend there. Keep reading for some simple steps you can take to make your bedroom a hypoallergenic haven.
1 Deep clean your sheets
Allergens live in the folds and creases of your sheets, so deep cleaning your bedding is your first line of defense. "Washing your bedding at least weekly in water that is at least 130°F and using a hot drying cycle is recommended," says Dr. Dlott. "This is the most effective way to remove dirt, sweat, skin cells, oil buildup, and dust mites from your sheets."
2 Only use hypoallergenic bedding
Speaking of sheets, switching to hypoallergenic bedding can significantly relieve your symptoms by preventing dust mites from reproducing. Materials like organic cotton, wool, bamboo, and microfiber are made of moisture-wicking, antimicrobial materials that are naturally resistant to dust mites and mildew. And the higher thread count the better, since a tight-weave structure eliminates gaps where allergens like to thrive.
But most allergists agree the best hypoallergenic fabric is silk, which not only fights off allergens but also soothes sensitive skin. (Fun fact: Silkworms produce a protein that makes silk resistant to germs, dust mites, and other allergens.) Although it's a bit of an investment, its allergy-proof qualities—plus the long list of hair and skin benefits—could be worth the splurge.
3 Apply dust-proof covers
To go the extra mile, apply tightly woven covers with zippered encasements on pillows, mattresses, box springs, and other items unable or unlikely to be washed. This will keep dust mites out and prevent them from multiplying on your bed.
Think of your pajamas as another cover (for your shedding skin), so it's best to change into freshly laundered jammies every night. As a precaution, make sure your PJs are washed with hypoallergenic detergent.
4 Always run an air purifier
The right air filter or circulation system can be a great ally in your fight against allergies. You can either add these directly to your furnace or set up a room unit; look for an air-filtration system that uses a small-particle or HEPA filter, which will help to scrub dust, pollen, and mold spores from the air.
5 Declutter your space
If something traps dust, it will draw dust mites. Try to get rid of anything in your bedroom that can easily collect dust—the less upholstery in the room, the better. This includes stuffed animals, excessive throw pillows, and non-leather chairs. Books collect lots of dust too, so move them to a different room when you're not reading them.
6 Vacuum regularly
Got carpet? Consider replacing it with hardwood floors if possible. It's also a good idea to remove any rugs from the area (sorry, rug lovers) since they tend to collect a lot of dust. If you can't help having carpet in your bedroom, vacuum with a double micro-filter bag or HEPA filter every other day. Wear a face mask while you vacuum so you don't inhale allergens, and limit your vacuuming to the daytime so the dust has time to settle before you go to sleep.
7 Don't make your bed
Take this tip with a grain of salt, but studies have indicated that an unmade bed is better for allergy sufferers. That's because dust mites thrive in the humid, warm conditions of a neatly made bed, but dry out when the blankets are left thrown off. "We know that mites can only survive by taking in water from the atmosphere," said lead researcher of the study, Stephen Pretlove. "Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die." This isn't to say not making your bed will totally eliminate dust mites, but it is a solid excuse for the lazy among us.