When hay fever is worse at night, you will experience hay fever symptoms like sneezing, runny noses and sore eyes that normally come into effect during daylight, during the night. After all, surely you are more exposed to pollen when you are out and about in the fresh air, rather than during the day? However, there are in fact a couple of reasons why hay fever is worse at night for some people. The reasons are:
1. The pollen shower phenomenon.
Pollen is very light (typically between 10 and 70 microns in size and they can break into even smaller pieces) and readily become airborne. During the day, hot air rises and in doing so, it carries the pollen alongside it. At night time, the air cools down and this begins a downward drift, the pollen then falls with the air. Most pollen lands on the ground in rural areas around 8 pm and 10 pm. In the city, hot pavements keep the air warm for longer and the pollen shower is delayed to later in the evening – typically between midnight and 2 am. Have you noticed a difference in the timing of your symptoms with location? Are you more likely to wake in the middle of the night with sneezing or hay fever symptoms when you are in the city?
2. Bedtime factors.
Many people with allergies find their symptoms are triggered by more than one thing. You may be allergic to well-known things like tree/grass/weed pollen, but you might also be allergic to house dust mites. Mattresses and bedroom carpets act as reservoirs for house dust mites and you may be exposed as soon as you go to bed. Similarly, there may be patches of mould – another potential allergen - in your bedroom; especially if it tends to be on the damp side. Thus, mould spores could be floating in the air and you breathe them in when you go to bed. Finally, the mere fact of lying down may make symptoms worse, as mucus causes congestion in the nasal area.
When hay fever is worse at night, it can interfere with your sleep (and that of your partner; being potentially as annoying as snoring!). The key to alleviating the problem is to make your indoor environment (especially in the bedroom) as allergen-free as possible. This means:
• Considering allergen friendly duvets
• Use allergy friendly pillows
• Cover the bed with a blanket during the day to stop pollen settling on your bedding
• Replacing bedroom carpet with hard flooring
• If you keep the carpet, vacuum often with a leakage-free allergy vacuum cleaner
• Use a proper air purifier in the bedroom
• Don't sleep with windows open if the pollen count is high
• Don't bring pollen indoors – during hay fever season try to change your clothes on arriving home and wash or rinse your hair
• Dry laundry indoors to prevent them from collecting pollen from outside.