Allergies and Fatigue

By Heather Legg

Environmental allergy symptoms are more than sneezing and itchy eyes. They can manifest in headaches, stomach problems, and sleep disorders. People with upper respiratory allergies often suffer from not only sleepiness, but significant fatigue which can infringe on daily life.

Because allergies can cause disruption in sleep, those who have them miss out on continuous deep sleep and have a more fragmented night of sleep which will lead to sleepiness and fatigue the next day. In children, it can show up as irritability and poor school performance. However, interestingly enough, they often don’t appear sleepy or drowsy during the day so it is difficult to pinpoint. Adults can recognize being tired more easily and are not as prone to fight it as children may be.  However, it is still hard sometimes to make the connection between allergies and fatigue. 

Part of the problem is the allergy medication that many people take. Whether it causes drowsiness or insomnia, that will lead to sleep disturbance. Even when taken at night, medication that causes drowsiness will lead to trouble with sleep patterns. Remember, too, that everyone responds to medication differently, and for some, the medication that makes other drowsy will keep them awake. Anything added to your system can have some sort of effect on it, even the non drowsy allergy meds.

Some people recommend starting any new medication on the weekends so it won’t interfere with work or school. However, sometimes it takes a few days to kick in, so effects can differ after a few days. It may be a good idea to try to work an extra hour or even thirty more minutes of sleep during allergy season or when taking any allergy medication.

Allergies can also induce snoring, which even though you may not know it, can really disrupt your sleep (and someone else’s if you share a bed or bedroom). While snoring does have many reasons, allergies are one of them from them allergy induced congestion. While medication is good, so is making sure your bed and covers are free of any allergens, like dust, dust mites, mold or mildew and animal hair.

Following a regular bedtime schedule and routine will help with a better night’s sleep. So will avoiding caffeine late in the day and alcohol. A dark room is best and it is not a good idea to use any electronics before bed, the bright screen can confuse the mind.

With a little work and allergy control, a better night’s sleep may make for a more productive and happier day.

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