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You May Be Allergic to Your New Bedding: Here's How to Recognize It

Your bedroom might be the source of your allergies. Here's what to know.

Young woman sitting in bed and blowing her nose.
Getty Images/AsiaVision

I'm a person with allergies. So when I stopped sleeping well and woke up each day tired and with a stuffy nose, I didn't think twice. But days went by, and things were getting worse. It wasn't until my partner told me that I was gasping for air while sleeping that I decided it wasn't normal seasonal allergies. His exact words were, "It sounds like you're dying." 

That's when it hit me. The week before, I had bought new pillows. They were new, comfortable and barely slept on, but they tried to kill me, so they had to go. A few days later, I could breathe and sleep again. 

No one expects their bedroom to be the source of their allergies, but it happens more than you expect. Spoiler alert: more often than not, it's not the feathers you're reacting to in your pillows. Here's what to know about allergies in the bedroom.

Can you be allergic to your bedding?

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There are several potential allergy reactions to the different types of bedding. Though generally, true reactions to what your pillows and blankets are made of are rare. Potential sources of allergens include feathers, synthetic materials and dyes. These allergic reactions aren't common for the average person -- but they can happen. It happened to me. 

So how do you distinguish between regular allergies and allergic reactions to bedding products? It can be difficult, but being mindful of when the symptoms begin can be a good place to start. If your allergies start to act up when you get in bed and lessen throughout the day, it may be your bedding -- or what's in it. 

Here's what I did to figure out what was causing my allergies:

  1. I took note of when my symptoms started. It wasn't hard to figure out when I stopped sleeping well; it coincided with the introduction of the new pillows.
  2. I ruled out other possibilities -- there was no new laundry detergent or perfumes. The only thing was the pillows and my inability to breathe.
  3. Then I tested the theory. I removed the pillows from my bedroom and slept a few nights without them. My symptoms immediately improved. 
  4. I got the pillows as far away from me as possible.

If you're experiencing allergy symptoms in your bedroom and haven't introduced any new bedding, you're more likely reacting to dust mites or pet dander, both of which could be in your mattress and pillows. 

Read more: Best Mattresses  

Couple sitting in bed while woman blows her nose.
Getty Images/Peter Dazeley

Your mattress might be the source of your allergies

Mattresses collect everything from spills to skin cells to dust mites. If you're not cleaning your mattress (don't worry, most people don't), your allergies may flare up in response to the buildup on your mattress. 

You can't see dust mites. They are microscopic bugs that aren't visible to the naked eye. It's a little gross to think about, but they eat the dead skin we shed onto our pillows, sheets and mattresses. They're really common; roughly four out of five American homes have detectable levels of dust mites. Pretty much everyone has them, don't worry. 

Dust mites can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms, including a runny or itchy nose, congestion, coughing, throat discomfort and trouble sleeping. 

Here's what can you do to get rid of dust mites:

  • Wash your bedding weekly. 
  • Vacuum regularly if you have carpet in your bedroom. 
  • Try dust-mite-proof covers on your mattress and pillows. 
  • Control the humidity in your bedroom. Not only will this help with dust mites that need humid air to thrive, but mold and mildew. 

Read more: Best Organic Mattresses

Too long; didn't read?

Suppose you're having allergy flare-ups when you're sleeping. In that case, you're probably not reacting to dust mites, not feather pillows or synthetic materials. Nighttime allergies can have a serious impact on your ability to sleep. In addition to taking allergy medications, take the time to allergy-proof your room. Invest in a dehumidifier or dust-mite-proof covers to help ease discomfort. 

If you aren't in the position to invest in any new tech or bedding, just keep things clean. Wash your sheets regularly and vacuum as often as you can.  

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.