How to Sleep with Hay Fever at Night

5 Min Read | By Gemma Curtis

Last Modified 1 May 2024   First Added 17 July 2017

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Super pollen; what is it?

Super pollen occurs when regular pollen particles become mixed with diesel fumes. Humid weather and air pollution in cities can cause this pollen to stay in the atmosphere, low down where it triggers issues and health problems. Dr Paul Carson, of the British Society for Allergy & Clinical Immunology, says that this super pollen is stickier than regular pollen, so can attach itself to your eyes, sinuses and lungs more stubbornly, causing the effects of hay fever to be worse and more prolonged.

Car exhaust fumes

So, those who live in cities may be more aware of the effects of ‘super pollen’. However, hay fever can affect anyone, anywhere, with the NHS reporting an estimated 13 million hay fever sufferers in the UK. Luckily, there are lots of simple and affordable ways you can dampen the impact of hay fever to ensure you have a great sleep every night.

Why is hay fever worse at night?

Hay fever is worse at night as, throughout the day, heated air rises that carries pollen along with it. When the air starts to cool down at night, it starts to travel downwards. When this happens, it takes the pollen with it, and therefore, if you do have hay fever, it becomes more difficult to relax and fall asleep as allergy symptoms become heightened. According to Allergy Cosmos, the majority of pollen falls to the ground in rural areas around 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. So, make sure you’re prepared around this time of night and follow our hay fever tips shared earlier.

How to stop hay fever at night

When it comes to tackling hay fever, prevention is better than cure. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check the weather and pollen forecast from the MET Office to prepare yourself before going outside or opening your windows. You could also take some antihistamine tablets to prevent your symptoms from becoming uncomfortable or painful. But if you’re particularly prone, here are some tips to stop hay fever and help you sleep peacefully:

  1. Wear wraparound sunglasses to limit exposure to the eyes.
  2. During the day, throw a spare sheet over your duvet to create a pollen barrier. Take it off each evening, and the duvet you sleep under should be pollen-free.
  3. Keep windows and doors shut when possible to prevent pollen coming in from outside, especially during the daytime in the summer as this is when pollen levels are high.
  4. Wash your bedding once a week at 60°C to kill pollen. Change your sheets more often if you are still struggling with hay fever.
  5. If possible, keep pets out of the bedroom. Pet hair and dander can irritate your hay fever at night.
  6. Keep your room clean and tidy, and wipe surfaces from build-up dust and potential pollen particles.
  7. Try going to bed earlier. Symptoms of hay fever are usually worse later at night and early in the morning, so having an early night can help to avoid hay fever at its worst.


8. Take evening showers to remove pollen from your hair and body that you may have collected during the day.

9. Half an hour before bed, take an antihistamine to calm symptoms.

10. Rinse your eyes and nose with fresh water before bed to get rid of any pollen sitting on your face.

11. Before bed, fab Vaseline or petroleum jelly outside of your nostrils to trap pollen so you don’t breathe it in.

12. If your hair is long, tie it back or wear a silk bonnet to stop pollen from falling from your hair into your face or getting on your pillow.

13. During the night elevate your head with at least two pillows to reduce congestion and make it easier to breathe through your nose at night.

Foods to help and avoid for hay fever

To help stop hay fever, or treat symptoms, some foods can help, including:

  • Foods rich in vitamin E like eggs and oily fish. These are said to reduce the risk of getting hay fever in the first place as vitamin E is an immune-system booster that helps your body reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections such as the common cold.
  • Eating spices such as garlic, ginger and chilli can also help with treating symptoms naturally as they are high in vitamin C which has been linked to improved lung function through the antioxidant quercetin.
  • Other foods high in vitamin C can reduce symptoms and increase your immunity, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, sprouts, potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods including leafy greens, fatty fish, turmeric, ginger, or fruits such as blueberries and purple grapes help to reduce hay fever.
  • And finally, probiotic foods can help your gut health, which in turn can help to ease allergies and hay fever. These include pickles, miso, kefir, yogurt, kimchi and some cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar.

Certain foods do make symptoms of hay fever worse due to their production of mucus within the body. So avoid dairy products, sugary foods, and starchy foods before bed to reduce the likelihood of making symptoms worse.

You should also avoid alcohol at all costs when it comes to getting good sleep during hay fever season. In addition to having dehydrating effects, which will dry out your respiratory system, alcohol also stimulates the production of histamine within your body. This is the same chemical that is produced during an allergic reaction, causing inflammation. So, your nightly tipple could be causing your hay fever to flare up ten times worse.

Woman steaming face over a bowel

Treating hay fever

No matter how much you try to avoid pollen, sometimes it’s inevitable that you’ll suffer from symptoms. Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays are great for reaching the problem area directly, as well as eye drops for soothing and clearing your eyes. Alternatively, you could try the old steaming trick; place a towel over your head with your face over a hot bowl of water. Add some Vicks drops to the water to really open up your nasal passages.

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