Got Allergies? How Your Bed Might Be the Culprit
November 3, 2020 | Casper Editorial Team

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.

The Research on Bedroom Allergies

How often do people have allergic reactions to their own bedrooms? More often than you’d think. Studies reveal that, in the U.K.:

  • Over half of people who experience allergies when indoors have their most severe symptoms after spending time in their bedrooms
  • The majority of those people are reacting to dust mites, the most common indoor allergen

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.

Dust Mites

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:

  • Congested nasal passages
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Sore throat and cough
  • Skin irritation

Your symptoms may be worse if you have asthma or other respiratory health issues.

Get your best night's sleep with a new Casper's mattress. Shop now!

Other Allergens

Dust mites aren’t the only possible culprit behind nighttime allergy attacks. Your mattress may also be a storage place for:

  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Mildew

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.

Steps to Combat Bedroom Allergens

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:

  • Dusting and vacuuming all surfaces
  • Mopping to remove dust
  • Washing curtains, rugs, and textiles
  • Steam cleaning your mattress
  • Washing or replacing pillows
  • Replacing filters in your air conditioner or air purifier

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:

  • Dehumidify – Ambient moisture can allow mold and mildew to thrive. Moreover, dust mites need humid air to survive. These creatures don’t drink water, but rather absorb it from the atmosphere. They can’t survive in arid areas, or rooms equipped with efficient dehumidifiers. 
  • Use an air filter – A HEPA air filter can help to trap common household allergens. If problematic particles are circulating in the air, a high quality filter may reduce the severity of your symptoms. 
  • Wash bedding weekly – Don’t give dust mites a foothold in your bed. Many people with allergies wait 2-3 weeks to change their linens, or wash at a temperature under 90 degrees. If you’re trying to avoid allergens, you need to wash more regularly, and with very hot water! 
  • Keep your pet off your bed – As much as you love to snuggle with your furry friend, pet dander is a major source of allergies. If yours are serious, you may want to encourage your pet to sleep in a different room.         
  • Employ zippered covers – If there are dust mites in your mattress or pillow, a zippered cover can trap them there. If there aren’t, a zippered cover will keep them pest-free.
  • Eliminate textiles – Are there carpets or rugs in your room? For dust mites, it’s only a short leap from the floor to your bed. Eliminate floor coverings and choose synthetic curtains that are less hospitable to dust mites and pet dander. 
  • Replace pillows regularly – Do you use the same pillows your parents dropped off at your freshman year dorm? Unless you’re still in college, you likely need replacements. We sweat and even drool on our pillows. That’s why they should be replaced every 1-2 years.

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. 

Your Mattress Matters

Finally, there are some scenarios in which you may need a different mattress. Let’s take a look at some common mattress allergy issues.

Latex Mattress Allergy

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:

  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing

If you experience any of these after sleeping on your new latex mattress, you likely need a replacement.

Allergen Accumulation

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:

  • Spring mattresses have plenty of empty space that gives dust mites room to take hold
  • Pillow tops made of organic fibers welcome these critters to snuggle up close to your skin

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.

Sleeping Hot

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. 

Memory Foam for Allergy Sufferers

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:

  • Density – Because memory foam mattresses are made with dense foam, there are fewer areas where dust mites can find a foothold. The unique density of memory foam also makes it ideal for side sleepers. 
  • Cooling properties – While traditional memory foam is known for trapping heat, recent innovations allow for ample air circulation. Additional gel pad inserts can provide further cooling effects. When you’re cooler, you sweat less, which provides less moisture for dust mites and mold to latch onto. 
  • Latex foam layer – The top, latex foam layer of our memory foam and hybrid mattresses is hypoallergenic, serving as vital protection for your skin and sinuses alike.
  • Mattress cover – Each mattress cover is made with up to 57 recycled bottles.

If you’re looking for a mattress to help tackle your allergy problem, shop Casper’s array of memory foam and hybrid mattresses.

Don’t Forget Your Pillows!

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!

Casper for Allergies

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! 

Sources:

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/