The warmer weather brings a fresh set of challenges for the estimated one in five of us living with hay fever.
With grass pollen levels remaining very high across England and Wales thanks to an influx of warm weather, it means major discomfort for a lot of people, including disrupted sleep – over half of adults (57%) and up to 88% of children with hay fever suffer from sleep problems, which can lead to daytime fatigue and an inability to think clearly. Not ideal if you’ve got to work.
To give yourself the best chance of catching some shut-eye this weekend and beyond, we asked experts for their advice.
1. Wash Your Sheets More
Sadly, washing your sheets once a fortnight just won’t cut the mustard in the weeks to come. “In hay fever season, consider washing your sheets once a week to keep sheets free of pollen, as well as dust and other particles that might make symptoms worse,” says Neil Robinson, chief sleep officer at Sealy UK.
A hot wash should do the trick. A study found that washing items at hotter temperatures was more effective at removing traces of tree pollen, so when you wash your sheets, make sure it’s at a temperature of 40C or above – ideally at least 60C.
2. Banish Pets From The Bedroom
Yes you might love having your cat or dog curled up at the end of the bed, but they’re actually a nightmare for allergy sufferers. “Their fur can be a magnet for pollen, dust and other allergens,” says Robinson, “meaning you’ll be the one to suffer when they climb into your bed late at night.
“With 10% of people banishing their partner from the bedroom to make room for their furry friend, it might be time to evict your pet and invite your partner back in during the summer months if you don’t want your allergy symptoms to flare up.”
3. Shower Before Bed
If you find your allergy symptoms worsen at night, try jumping in the shower. At the end of a long day, your hair, skin and clothes will be covered in micro-particles of dust and pollen, especially if you’ve spent long periods outside enjoying the sunshine.
“A quick shower before settling down for the night can help remove these allergens before you sleep, reducing night time symptoms,” says Robinson.
4. Close Your Windows
Make sure you keep your windows closed in the morning and evening when pollen counts are highest. Tree pollen tends to peak in the early afternoon, while grass tends to be worse in the morning before 11am and again in the late afternoon and early evening from about 4.30pm.
Natalie Masters, hay fever and summer allergies expert at Boots, previously told HuffPost UK: “Towards the end of the day, the temperature drops causing the pollen that has risen in the atmosphere during the day to fall back to the ground. This explains why hay fever sufferers may experience a worsening of symptoms at night which can impact how they feel the next day.”
5. Switch Up Your Medication
If you take medication to relieve your symptoms, consider when you are suffering the most and make sure you’re taking them at the appropriate time.
Keep a diary of symptoms and notice the times of day you have flare ups. If night time is when you suffer the most, Robinson suggests taking any medication before bed so you reap the full benefits.
But make sure to consult your doctor before making any changes.