Home / Blog March 11, 2024 Updated on March 20, 2024

5 min read

Why Are My Allergies Worse At Night?

If nighttime allergies rob you of sleep, this blog is for you. We discuss the causes, symptoms, and remedies of allergies that worsen at night and offer tips on what to look out for to know when it’s time to seek medical attention.

Why Are My Allergies Worse At Night?


Nighttime allergies cause congestion, sneezing, coughing, and breathing issues.

These allergies can be triggered by dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and pollen.

Use allergen-proof bedding, air purifiers, nasal irrigation, and humidifiers for relief.

Did you know?
Encasing pillows and mattresses in allergen-proof covers can significantly reduce exposure to dust mites and other allergens!

Have you ever found yourself wide awake in the middle of the night, battling an onslaught of sneezes, sniffles, and itchy eyes, courtesy of nighttime allergies? This blog discusses all-things nighttime allergies and offers solutions for deep, restorative sleep.

Let’s begin by identifying signs of a nighttime allergic reaction!

Symptoms Of Nighttime Allergic Reactions

These include:

  1. Nasal Congestion: Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, makes your nose stuffy. This makes it difficult to breathe through the nose, especially when lying down.
  2. Runny Nose: Excessive nasal discharge or postnasal drip may occur, leading to irritation of the throat and coughing.
  3. Sneezing: Allergies can trigger frequent sneezing, especially during nighttime when allergen exposure is higher due to indoor allergens like dust mites and pet dander.
  4. Itchy Eyes: Allergic conjunctivitis can cause itching, redness, and swelling of the eyes, making it uncomfortable to keep them open during sleep.
  5. Watery Eyes: Excessive tearing or watery eyes can occur due to allergic reactions to pollen, dust, or other airborne allergens.
  6. Coughing: Allergies can irritate the airways, leading to coughing, especially at night when lying down. Postnasal drip can also trigger coughing during sleep.
  7. Wheezing: In people with asthma or allergic asthma, exposure to allergens can trigger wheezing or difficulty breathing, particularly at night when airway inflammation may be more pronounced.
  8. Itchy Skin: Allergic reactions can cause itching, leading to discomfort and difficulty falling or staying asleep.
  9. Restlessness: Allergy symptoms like nasal congestion, coughing, or itching can lead to restlessness and difficulty staying asleep throughout the night.
  10. Snoring: Nasal congestion or obstruction due to allergies can contribute to snoring, disrupting both your sleep and that of your bed partner.

Next, let’s look at why these symptoms become more pronounced during the night.

Why Are Allergies Worse At Night?

Here are the most common reasons you experience worse allergic reactions at night:

  1. Indoor Allergens Accumulation: During the day, you’re more likely to be outside, where pollen counts might be higher. However, at night, when you’re indoors, you’re exposed to indoor allergens like pet dander and mold spores, which exacerbate allergies.
  2. Increased Exposure to Dust Mites: Dust mites thrive in warm and humid environments, and bedding is their prime location. When you lie in bed at night, you disturb the bedding, releasing dust mite particles into the air, which trigger allergies.
  3. Closed Windows: Many people close their windows at night to keep the noise out or for security reasons. This can trap allergens indoors, increasing exposure to them while you sleep.
  4. Decreased Humidity: Indoor air tends to be drier at night, especially during the winter when heating systems are running. Dry air can irritate nasal passages and make allergy symptoms feel more severe.
  5. Sleeping Position: When lying down, gravity can worsen nasal congestion. This can lead to increased sinus pressure and exacerbate allergy symptoms.
  6. Lower Cortisol Levels: Cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate inflammation, typically decreases at night. This can lead to increased inflammation and more pronounced allergy symptoms.
  7. Increased Sensitivity: Some people may simply be more sensitive to allergens at night due to various factors, such as hormonal fluctuations or changes in immune responses.
  8. Delayed Reaction: Allergies may take some time to manifest fully. Throughout the day, you may be exposed to allergens that gradually build up, leading to more pronounced symptoms by nighttime.
  9. Stress and Fatigue: Stress and fatigue weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to allergies. By the end of the day, you may be more tired and stressed, which can exacerbate allergy symptoms.
  10. Evening Activities: Evening activities like cleaning or spending time with pets, can increase exposure to allergens, leading to worsened symptoms later at night.

In the next section, let’s look at the most prevalent allergies that worsen at night.

What Are The Most Common Night Allergies?

Here are the most prevalent allergies that get worse at night:

  1. Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis): Allergic rhinitis, often triggered by pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds, can lead to nasal congestion, sneezing, and itchy eyes, making sleeping difficult.
  2. Dust Mite Allergy: Dust mites thrive in bedding, carpets, and upholstery, and their allergens can trigger allergic reactions like sneezing, coughing, and congestion, which can disturb sleep.
  3. Pet Allergies: Proteins found in pet dander, saliva, and urine can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people, affecting sleep quality, especially if pets share the bedroom.
  4. Mold Allergy: Mold spores can be found indoors and outdoors, particularly in damp environments like bathrooms, basements, and kitchens. Mold allergies can cause nasal congestion, coughing, and wheezing, disrupting sleep.
  5. Food Sensitivities: Certain food allergies, like those to nuts, shellfish, or dairy, can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, skin reactions, or even anaphylaxis.
  6. Insect Sting Allergies: Allergic reactions to insect stings from bees, wasps, or fire ants can lead to swelling, hives, itching, and even anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.
  7. Latex Allergy: Sensitivity to latex products can cause skin irritation, hives, nasal symptoms, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis.
  8. Medication Allergies: Allergic reactions to medications, such as antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or anesthesia, can cause itching, rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing, which can impact sleep.
  9. Cockroach Allergy: Cockroach allergens, found in cockroach saliva, feces, and body parts, can trigger allergic reactions, leading to symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and nasal congestion, which can disrupt sleep.
  10. Pollen Allergy: Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds can trigger allergic rhinitis symptoms, interfering with sleep, especially during peak pollen seasons.
  11. Chemical Sensitivities: Some people are sensitive to chemicals found in household products, like cleaning agents, fragrances, or pesticides, leading to allergic reactions that can affect sleep quality.

These are just a few common allergies that can impact sleep due to their symptoms and triggers. Next, let’s look at what you can do to ensure you still sleep well regardless of nighttime allergies. 

How To Sleep Despite Allergies At Night

Here’s how you can get restful sleep even when you’re experiencing a mild allergic reaction:

  1. Allergen-proof Bedding: Invest in allergen-proof pillowcases, mattress covers, and bedding to create a barrier against dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens that may trigger or worsen your symptoms.
  2. Air Purifier: In your bedroom, use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove airborne allergens like pollen, dust, and pet dander. This will help improve air quality and reduce allergy symptoms while you sleep.
  3. Nasal Irrigation: Consider using a saline nasal spray or nasal irrigation system before bedtime to rinse away allergens from your nasal passages, alleviate congestion, and improve breathing.
  4. Shower before Bed: Take a shower before bedtime to remove pollen, dust, and other allergens from your skin and hair, reducing the risk of transferring allergens to your bedding and exacerbating your symptoms while you sleep.
  5. Humidifier: Use a humidifier in your bedroom to maintain optimal humidity levels, especially during the winter when indoor air is dry. Proper humidity levels help alleviate nasal congestion and soothe irritated airways.
  6. Essential Oils: Consider using essential oils with decongestant and anti-inflammatory properties, like eucalyptus or peppermint, in a diffuser in your bedroom to help clear nasal passages and promote relaxation before bedtime.
  7. Sleep Aids: Use a weighted blanket to promote deeper, more restful sleep. Weighted blankets like our Cotton Napper provide gentle pressure and sensory relief, which can help calm the nervous system, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep quality.
  8. Elevate Your Head: Elevating your head with extra pillows or an adjustable bed can help alleviate nasal congestion and reduce postnasal drip, making it easier to breathe and sleep comfortably.
  9. Avoid Allergen Exposure: Minimize exposure to common allergens in your bedroom, like dust, pet dander, and mold, by regularly vacuuming, dusting, and keeping surfaces clean. Consider keeping pets out of the bedroom to reduce exposure to pet allergens.

When To See A Doctor

Here are some signs that it’s time to consult a medical professional about your nighttime allergies:

  1. Persistent Symptoms: If you experience recurring symptoms of allergies at night, despite trying over-the-counter allergy medications or other remedies, seek medical advice.
  2. Severe Symptoms: If your nighttime allergy symptoms are severe or worsening, like sudden onset of shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, or swelling of the face or throat, seek immediate medical attention as these could be signs of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.
  3. Sleep Disruption: If your nighttime allergies consistently disrupt your sleep, leading to excessive daytime fatigue, irritability, or impaired functioning, address these issues with a healthcare provider.
  4. Allergy Triggers Unidentified: If you’re unsure about the specific allergens triggering your nighttime symptoms or suspect that indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, or mold may be contributing to your allergies, a doctor can help identify potential triggers.
  5. Medication Management: If over-the-counter allergy medications are not providing adequate relief or if you require long-term management of your nighttime allergies, a doctor can prescribe stronger medications or recommend alternative treatments tailored to your personal needs.
  6. Underlying Conditions: If you have underlying medical conditions like asthma, sinusitis, or sleep disorders that nighttime allergies may exacerbate, consult a healthcare provider.
  7. Allergy-related Complications: If your nighttime allergies are leading to complications like sinus infections, ear infections, or asthma exacerbations, seek medical attention.
  8. Concerns about Allergy Shots or Immunotherapy: If you’re considering allergy shots (immunotherapy) or other advanced allergy treatments, consult an allergist or immunologist to determine if these options suit your specific allergy triggers and symptoms.


Nighttime allergies significantly impact sleep quality due to symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, itching, and difficulty breathing. Identifying and addressing the underlying allergens triggering these symptoms is crucial for effective management.

Using allergen-proof bedding, air purifiers, nasal irrigation, and weighted blankets can help improve sleep despite allergies. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical advice from a healthcare provider or allergist.