Sleeping With Asthma

Last updated: July 2020

I know, I know, it's a weird title.

But when I'm teaching families about asthma, many are surprised to learn about how their house can affect their allergies and asthma. In fact, I didn't know much about it either when my kids and I were diagnosed 18 years ago. I learned as much as I could and we made several changes to our home to make it more allergy and asthma friendly.

With bedrooms, there are several things that can help you sleep better at night.

Start with your mattress

Since you can spend 8 hours in bed (who am I kidding?! I WISH I slept 8 hours a night....) Anyway, since you CAN spend a lot of time in bed, it's helpful if it's clean and allergy free. You can use an attachment on your vacuum and vacuum the mattress. A dust mite proof mattress pad cover and pillowcase cover can be used to protect the mattress and pillow. And experts recommend washing your sheets EVERY week in hot water.

Add new pillows

How long have you had your pillow? Some experts recommend replacing them every few years. I often have families that have had their pillows for 10 years or longer. Think about what we do to our pillows - sneeze on them, drool on them when we have a cold, sweat on them, etc. I replace all of our pillows every year and donate the old pillows to our local animal shelter for the dogs to sleep on.

Wash stuffed animals

Have a kid whose bed is full of stuffed animals? There are various ways to clean them - hand washing, washing machine, vacuuming the stuffed animals with an attachment, etc. Since all stuffed animals are different, check the tag and watch for batteries before you decide how you want to clean them.

Don't store anything under the bed

I'm talking to YOU, teenagers! Backpacks, soccer balls, dirty clothes, a half-eaten piece of pizza. You shove it all under the bed. And do you ever vacuum under your bed? Noooo! Asthma Doc has told all of my kids that they can't store anything under the bed. He wants it clutter-free and vacuumed every week. (I know, they think Asthma Doc is so mean.....)

And now for the floor.

Wood floors or tile are easy to clean. See ya dust bunnies! Area-rugs can be vacuumed each week and shampooed twice a year.

And in the windows 

Instead of horizontal blinds, you can use roll-up shades (nowhere for the dust to collect).  And replace fussy formal curtains with simple washable curtains. Keep the windows closed during pollen season to prevent pollen from landing on you and your clean sheets.

How to cool the room?

Air conditioning is better than a swamp coolers. With air conditioning, you keep the windows closed (which keeps out pollen) and the filters clean the air. With swamp coolers (evaporative coolers), moisture is pulled into the home and windows need to be opened slightly - which can let in pollen and air pollution. The pads need to be changed to prevent a slimy buildup and the units on the roof or in the window can leak.

Get rid of clutter

Banish knick knacks, decorations and magazines and store items in bins to protect them from dust.

Shower before bed during pollen season

Since pollen can stick to your skin, hair, eyebrows, etc, it helps to shower before you go to bed at night. Otherwise, you may wake up with a stuffy nose, runny eyes, and feeling miserable. During spring, when I've been outside late at night and am too tired to shower, I will wake up sneezing and coughing. Which means I have to stumble across my dark room to find my purse and my inhaler. The idea here is to start the night with a clean pollen-free body, in a clean pollen-free bed, in a clean and pollen-free room.

Since there's no one size fits all approach to asthma, you have to find what works for you. Those are a few ideas to get you started.

Sweet dreams!

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