You wake up in the morning with itchy eyes, a runny nose, and a bleary feeling. What could be behind it? Perhaps you spent part of the day exposed to pollen, or it’s just “something in the air.”
Or then again, maybe it’s your bed.
We think of our bedrooms as sanctuaries from the outside world. Those of us with allergies crave this refuge even more—with our windows down and our air purifiers on, we have complete control over what we’re exposed to. Yet many of us overlook a common storage place for dust mites and other unpleasant, allergy-inducing substances.
Could your bed or pillows be the source of your allergies? Let’s take a closer look.
How often do people have allergic reactions to their own bedrooms? More often than you’d think. Studies reveal that, in the U.K.:
These numbers can be shocking, but there’s a reason why so many suffer from bedroom allergies, and it’s not just sketchy cleaning habits.
Even if you regularly vacuum your bedroom, clean your AC filter, and change your sheets, dust mites can find a foothold in mattresses and pillows.
What, exactly, are dust mites?
Unlike bed bugs and cockroaches, these insect-like pests are invisible to the naked eye. Microscopic dust mites thrive in areas with moderate-to-high humidity. They feed off of human skin cells, so high-traffic areas like your bed and sofa make for a cozy home.
While some websites insist that dust mites can double the weight of your pillow or mattress, there’s no evidence for these claims. However, that doesn’t mean these pests are harmless!
Signs of a dust mite allergy include:
Your symptoms may be worse if you have asthma or other respiratory health issues.
Dust mites aren’t the only possible culprit behind nighttime allergy attacks. Your mattress may also be a storage place for:
How does it work? In many cases, there’s plenty of room between mattress and pillow fibers for tiny pests and microscopic particles to take root and thrive. In humid environments or bedrooms with attached bathrooms, mold and mildew exacerbate the situation.
And of course, there’s no easy way to clean the inside of your mattress. So what can you do? One solution is to allergen-proof your bedding as best as you can.
Having a clean sleeping environment is an important step to sleeping better. The key to eliminating dust mites and other allergens are elimination and prevention. First, thoroughly clean your bedroom environment. That means:
Don’t forget to wear a mask if you think you have a sensitivity to these allergens! You’ll stir them up before you get rid of them. If needed, have someone else clean the room.
Then, the Mayo Clinic recommends the following practices for keeping your bedroom allergen-free:
If you follow these steps, you’ll greatly reduce the presence of allergens in your bedroom. Of course, maintaining similar protocol in other rooms of the house can help to support your efforts at getting better sleep.
Finally, there are some scenarios in which you may need a different mattress. Let’s take a look at some common mattress allergy issues.
Some memory foam mattresses are made from latex. Despite its advanced-sounding name, latex is actually a derivative of the rubber tree. Therefore, it’s increasingly popular as a natural alternative to synthetic memory foams.
However, according to OSHA, there are some potential allergens present in latex. While latex allergies are relatively rare, get to know the symptoms.
The signs of a latex allergy are mainly topical, and somewhat different than those caused by dust mites. They include:
If you experience any of these after sleeping on your new latex mattress, you likely need a replacement.
Over time, your mattress can accumulate allergens. How long will it take before your sleep space is overridden by dust mites and other pests?
If you see visible mold or discoloration, that’s an excellent sign that it’s time to spring for a new mattress. (Also, before you buy, be sure to research the best time to buy a new mattress.)
When it comes to dust mites, there is no set rule for replacement. Dr. Sara Barnes of the National Asthma Council Australia notes that these dust mites may proliferate at different rates—and people’s allergic reactions will vary, too.
Some mattresses are markedly worse for allergy sufferers:
Most spring mattresses last for 7-10 years. If you’ve already had your mattress for much longer, it could be time for a new model. However, if you’re experiencing severe allergies at the five-year mark, you may be in for an earlier upgrade.
Do you sweat at night?
Think, for a second, about the affect your sweat has as you sleep. It moistens your sheeting (and, without plastic protectors, your pillows and mattress). In turn, it creates an attractive breeding ground for mold.
Finally, it provides dust mites the moisture that they need to survive.
If your mattress makes you sleep hot, it could play an additional role in attracting allergens.
Luckily, some mattresses are better than others when it comes to combating allergens.
Casper’s memory foam mattresses boast several benefits over their coiled counterparts:
If you’re looking for a mattress to help tackle your allergy problem, shop Casper’s array of memory foam and hybrid mattresses.
As we noted, pillows take the brunt of your nighttime sweat. Besides their allergy-fighting material, memory foam pillows are great neck support for people who sleep on their sides—and they may last longer than other pillows!
At Casper, our goal is facilitating better sleep. Whether your sleep issue is poor spinal alignment, insufficient support, or allergies, we’re working around-the-clock to develop mattresses, pillows, and bedding that meets your specific needs.
Shop our line of hypoallergenic memory foam and hybrid mattresses to get some relief from your nighttime allergies. Don’t forget to top off your bed with natural linens so you can finally enjoy a good night’s sleep!
The Mayo Clinic. Allergy Proof Your Home. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/in-depth/allergy/art-20049365
OSHA. Potential for Sensitization and Possible Allergic Reaction To Natural
Rubber Latex Gloves and other Natural Rubber Products. https://www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib012808.html
ABC Australia. How often should you change your mattress and pillows to avoid mould and dust mites? https://www.abc.net.au/life/how-often-should-you-change-mattress-pillows/10815392
Sleep Foundation. Best Mattresses for Allergies. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/best-mattress/best-mattress-for-allergies
American Lung Association. Dust Mites. https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/dust-mites
National Health Service (U.K.). Millions ‘allergic to their own home’, says charity. https://www.nhs.uk/news/lifestyle-and-exercise/millions-allergic-to-their-own-home-says-charity/