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Up All Night: How Soldiers Deal with Sleep Deprivation

Simple tricks to clear the air so you can sleep more soundly.

Allergies can make you feel drowsy, but symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose can make it tough to actually fall asleep. That’s why taking steps to clear the air in your bedroom is so important for getting more quality shut-eye. Since allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to typically harmless things, such as pollen, dust mites, or cat dander, the key to easing symptoms so you can doze off faster is to squelch those allergy triggers. Below, eight ways to do it.

 Vacuum Away. Dust mites love finding a home in carpets, so be sure to vacuum at least twice a week to remove the little critters. Use a double bag and try wearing a mask to avoid inhaling dust that’s sent into the air from vacuuming.

Mind Your Curtains. Get rid of heavy curtains—they’re dust catchers—and use washable cotton curtains or washable roller shades, instead. If you like your heavy curtains for their darkening properties, regularly wash them in warm or hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill dust mites. Also, wipe window frames and glass to prevent mold and mildew from growing.

Protect Your Bedding. Cover your box spring and mattress in a zippered dust-proof or allergen-proof cover, and do the same for your pillows.

Close Your Windows. It may be tempting to crack your bedroom windows during unseasonably warm weather, but doing so allows pollen to drift inside and settle in your carpet and other areas. Keep them closed to avoid an allergic reaction.

Filter The Air. Try putting a disposable high-efficiency filter in your furnace and/or air-conditioning system that’s rated MERV 11 or 12 (this rating means that the holes in the filter that allow air to pass through are smaller and trap pollutants better). Change the filter every three months (or as often as the filter label recommends), and during the summer, leave your air conditioner on “fan” mode so pollutants such as pollen don’t get trapped indoors. If that’s not enough, on top of that, you can also use a HEPA Air Cleaner in the bedroom.

Manage Humidity. Mold doesn’t grow well in dry air, so try using a dehumidifier to keep your room at 50 percent humidity.

Shower Before Bed. Take a shower and put on fresh pajamas to help remove any pollen that you may have picked up from working or exercising outside earlier in the day (your hair can hold pollen and other allergens, so be sure to wash that, too!).

Make Your Bedroom A Pet-Free Zone.  Cats and dogs offer unconditional love, but they’re also allergy triggers. Their dead skill cells become airborne or settle into dust, triggering allergy symptoms. If you think that your pet may be a trigger, get an allergy skin test to determine your sensitivities. To help you rest easy, make your bedroom a no-pet zone.