Do you awake in the middle of the night wheezing and sneezing from allergies? You are not alone. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that 30% of adults suffer from allergies.1
Allergic reactions can seriously disrupt your sleep.2 Watery eyes, itchy skin and a wheezing nose are just a few of the symptoms that can brutally awake you from your slumber. When allergies strike, it can be very difficult to fall back asleep.
And we all know how important sleep is. Without it we turn into bleary-eyed grump monsters, unable to get the most out of the following day.
It might just be that your current pillow is responsible for your night-time allergies.
But before you consider giving up sleeping on a pillow altogether, I have good news for you. Your night of unbroken sleep may be as simple as swapping out your pillow. Yep, a hypoallergenic pillow may the solution to your night-time allergies.
What is a hypoallergenic pillow?
A hypoallergenic pillow is a blanket term that refers to any pillow that will not cause an allergic reaction for the majority of users.
Yep, I said ‘majority’. Unfortunately when many people hear the word ‘hypoallergenic, they immediately think ‘allergy proof’. This simply isn’t true. There is a slim chance that a hypoallergenic pillow won’t help your midnight allergies.
Let’s take cotton for example. Cotton has long been used as a cover for hypoallergenic pillows and won’t trigger the allergies of most people. That said, there are a select few people who are allergic to cotton; and as you have probably guessed – a hypo allergenic cotton cover isn’t going to fix their allergy problems.
Now chances are that you fall into the majority. The odds are in your favor that a hypoallergenic pillow won’t trigger your allergies. And with such a high chance of success, hypoallergenic pillows are worth checking out.
Because hypoallergenic refers to the material rather than the pillow itself, you will find that pillows claiming to be hypoallergenic come in all different shapes and styles.
What pillow materials are hypoallergenic?
You won’t be surprised to learn that for a pillow case to be hypoallergenic then it must be made from hypoallergenic materials.
Hypoallergenic materials naturally resist dust mites, mold, mildew and other allergy triggers. These materials include:
- Memory foam
- Some synthetic materials
Down filling, from ducks and geese, can be hypoallergenic but only if it is treated properly to remove dirt, dust and other allergens. This type of down is commonly referred to as allergy-free down.
Hypodown, goes a step further and infuses the down with syricaca clusters (milkweed fiber). The manufacturer of Hypodown are confident in the product that they make the following claim:
Allergy sufferers can sleep soundly with Hypodown. Guaranteed.
But you will have to pay for dearly to experience hypodown. You can check out hypodown pillows here. If you have deep pockets and want allergy free sleep, regardless of price, then they may be worth checking out.
As for me, I am a bit more frugal. However, when it came to buying a down pillow, this bit me on the backside.
I learned the hard way that not all down is treated. As you can see, down pillows can be expensive and I was suckered in to buying a cheaper generic one. While it looked and felt the part, I awoke later that night with a waterfall of tears streaming down my puffy eyes and sniffles to boot.
Upon closer investigation I learned that the down had not been properly washed and treated. The combined cost of the trip to the doctor the next day doubled what it would have cost me to go with a down pillow from a reputable manufacturer.
Do you need a hypoallergenic pillow?
The answer to this questions is… Maybe.
If you don’t suffer from allergies then lucky you. You can skip the hypoallergenic pillow and go back to doing whatever it is that people without allergies do. Breathing in giant pollen filled flowers and rolling around in the dust, I assume.
But if you have ever awoken in the middle of the night due to congestion, sniffles or itchy/watering eyes then a hypoallergenic pillow can go some way to providing some relief. Heck, it may even be the reason you sleep through the whole night without waking.
After all, you spend 8 hours of each day with your nose hovering above your pillow. If you are like me your nose will be smooshed into it.
Here comes the nasty part. Your nose will act like a vacuum cleaner and suck up every last allergen near it. The worst part is that unless you replace your pillow there isn’t a whole lot that can be done about this. I mean, you have to breath while you sleep… Right?
If you have allergies that disrupt your sleep and don’t have a hypoallergenic pillow then you should give it a shot. Your pillow is probably overdue for an upgrade anyway.
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While hypoallergenic pillows resist allergens, they are not a set-and-forget solution. Skin flakes, pet dander and dust will still build up over time to the point where they could cause your allergies to flare up.
Yep, just like your mattress, your pillow will need to be cleaned every once in a while. I aim to wash mine twice a year.
Be sure to follow the care instructions on the pillow tag to the letter. The easiest way to ruin your new hypoallergenic pillow is to wash it incorrectly.
A pillow protector and pillow case go a long way towards simplifying the washing process.
Don’t trust the label!
Here is where things get murky. The term hypoallergenic is unregulated.
Any company can claim that their pillow is hypoallergenic. At the time of writing this companies do not have to meet any regulations or pass any tests back up their hypoallergenic claim.1
However, if you stick with pillows made from materials that are known to be hypoallergenic, and reputable brands then you should be in the all clear.
While I dislike the fact that bigger more renown brands are more expensive, they do have a reputation to protect. It isn’t in their interest to damage their name by passing off pillows that are not hypoallergenic.
What if a hypoallergenic pillow doesn’t work for me?
If you are experiencing allergies then it’s time to take a closer look at your pillow.
First thing’s first, make sure that the pillow is hypoallergenic. I know it may seem obvious, but you would be surprised just how many people I have come across who wrongly believe their pillow is hypoallergenic.
Next up it’s time to look at the coverings. It’s no good buying a hypoallergenic pillow only to cover it with an allergy-triggering pillowcase. Check the pillow protector too.
If you have done all that then you will need to expand your search to the rest of your bedroom. You see, hypoallergenic pillows are only part of the puzzle to creating your allergy-free sleep space.
Sheets, blankets, mattress covers and even mattresses can all impact your allergies. Fortunately these products are also readily available in hypoallergenic variants.
Combine hypoallergenic bedding with regular dusting and cleaning of your bedroom. An air purifier can also be used to filter out pollen, mold spores, pet dander, dust and other allergy triggers that float through the air.
It may seem like a lot to go through but the reward is well worth it. A night of unbroken sleep, free from allergies, is all it will take to justify removing
If you are still experiencing allergies at night then it’s time to consult your healthcare practitioner. It may be as simple as you being allergic to something in your bedroom. You have nothing to lose by going to the doctor, allergies can also form the symptoms of more serious medical conditions
Do you sleep with a hypoallergenic pillow? Share your thoughts in the comments below!