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Why Are Allergies Worse at Night?

Why Are Allergies Worse at Night?

Guest Post By Genevieve Kane, MSN, RN

After caring for your little one and handling all the responsibilities parents and caregivers juggle in a day, bedtime is often looked forward to. So anything that disturbs your sleep or your child’s sleep can be frustrating.

Unfortunately, if it seems that your allergies or your child’s allergies are worse at night, there’s a reason for it. No, it’s not just that you aren’t distracted anymore from all the day's activities. There are several reasons why allergies worsen at night.

Why Are Allergies Worse at Night?

Here are the top reasons why allergies worsen at night and some practical tips for treating and preventing them.

Why Are Allergies Worse at Night?

Pollen Tracked Inside

If seasonal allergies are the leading cause of stuffy noses in your household, pollen may be to blame for nighttime allergy troubles. NIH MedlinePlus Magazine explains pollen typically causes allergies in late spring and early summer. Both various tree and grass species spread pollen.

If you and your family (including family pets!) have been playing outside and didn’t change clothes or rinse off after coming in, there’s a good chance pollen got tracked inside. It can end up in several places, including clothes, hair, or even the bed. So, for example, if your pup played outside, then snuggled in your bed for a snooze, they probably brought pollen there, too.

Another way pollen can get inside is through open windows.

How to Prevent Pollen Indoors: If someone in your family is allergic to pollen, consider closing windows and using the air conditioner on high pollen count days. Also, change clothes and rinse off after coming inside. Lastly, keep a rag or towel by the door and wipe down pets as they come inside to reduce home pollen counts.

Dust Mites

Zyrtec®, the popular allergy medicine, explains that dust mites are one of the main causes of nighttime allergies. These microscopic critters feast on dead skin skills and are commonly found in mattresses, box springs, pillows, bed sheets, and furniture. Yuck!

How to Prevent Dust Mites: You likely won’t ever completely get your home rid of dust mites, but you can take several measures to prevent them. These include replacing old pillows and mattresses and placing dust mite-proof covers over mattresses and pillows. Washing linens at least once a week can also help, as can regularly sweeping and vacuuming surfaces in your home.

Why Are Allergies Worse at Night?


Mold is an allergen that can come from several sources. According to NIH MedlinePlus Magazine, mold spores can be a source of seasonal allergies and cause allergy trouble during the spring, summer, and fall.

However, if you live in a home or work in a building with too much moisture or water damage, indoor mold growth can be a problem year-round. Things to look for include high humidity inside, signs of past water damage, and poor ventilation, which limits airflow and the ability to dry an area out.

The Home Depot provides several tips for removing mold in a home. They include:

Preventing mold in the first place. For example, addressing moisture issues and ventilation, using a dehumidifier to decrease moisture levels in the air, fixing leaking plumbing, and ensuring water can drain away from the foundation of a home.

Removing the mold through several options. There are many different ways to remove mold from surfaces. Bleach products work well, as does vinegar. For some surfaces, you can simply use dish soap and a rag. Always use just one cleaning product at a time, and never mix vinegar and bleach. It creates a toxic gas if you do.

Depending on how bad the mold is, the surface may need to be removed entirely. Removal is often necessary for porous surfaces like ceiling tiles.

Also, before attempting mold removal, wear the appropriate protective gear, such as goggles, a mask, and gloves, to limit your mold exposure.

And after cleaning up a moldy surface, toss your clothes in the wash and clean yourself up, too, so you don’t track mold spores around your home.

Why Are Allergies Worse at Night?

Basic Gravity

If you have seasonal allergies or experience symptoms from allergens in your home, simply lying down at night can worsen this congestion. VeryWell Health explains basic gravity can make it more difficult for sinus cavities to drain overnight when lying down. Increased blood flow can also aggravate congestion.

How to Prevent Congestion from Gravity: For those who are old enough to safely use a pillow, elevating the head may help. However, remember that infants and babies should practice safe sleep. So, if you have a young child, unless directed otherwise by their healthcare provider, they should be placed flat on their backs on a firm surface (such as a crib or pack-n-play) for sleep.

Other Comfort Measures for Nighttime Allergies

There are a few other options to try for young infants and children who have seasonal allergies or trouble with allergens in the home that impact sleep. One option is a nasal aspirator like the NozeBot. The NozeBot can help relieve congestion immediately.

For older children or as recommended by a healthcare provider, allergy medications, such as an antihistamine at bedtime, may be effective. MedlinePlus explains that allergy symptoms may be worse overnight for many, and taking an antihistamine at bedtime may help relieve these symptoms and help kids feel better in the morning.

Of course, one of the best ways to provide comfort is to reduce allergens in the home, especially the bedroom, as much as possible. And if your allergy symptoms are particularly severe or you are concerned, reaching out to a healthcare provider for additional advice and recommendations is always a great idea.

More information about seasonal allergies:

Genevieve Kane, MSN, RN, is a mother of four and a registered nurse with a background in pediatrics. When she's not working, you can find her cooking up tasty family dinners or keeping up with her kids on a hiking trail in her home state of Colorado.

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