Snoring Season: How Seasonal Changes Affect Sleep
I had to laugh (ruefully) when my wife, poking me in the back in the wee hours just before dawn, rolled over and muttered in irritation, “It’s snoring season again.”
I’d never thought about it before, but she was right. My snoring really did seem to amp up at certain times of year – notably, early fall and all spring.
Interestingly, studies back up my wife’s unofficial diagnosis of “snoring season.” Changes in temperature, pollen production and humidity conditions can affect sleep, and may make snoring worse in some sufferers.
What Are Allergies?
First, how are we classifying allergies?
According to WebMD, an allergy is an overreaction of the immune system, possibly to something that isn’t actually harmful to the body (although it can be; people have allergic reactions to toxic materials and unhealthy conditions as well as more naturally occurring sources).
About 1 in 5 Americans suffers from some sort of allergy. People can have allergies to dust, perfumes/scents, certain foods, textiles, chemical substances, or molds. Or they may have what we’re discussing here: seasonal allergies.
Allergy symptoms vary from person to person. When it comes to seasonal allergies, any of these may be present:
- itchy, watery eyes
- sneezing (seasonal allergies may be referred to as “allergic rhinitis” for this reason)
- rash or hives
- general feelings of unwellness, irritation or lethargy
How Allergies Can Negatively Affect Sleep
The most usual and obvious way that allergies affect your sleep is due to the irritation of your nasal passages, possibly your lungs, and potentially, swelling of the area that makes breathing passages narrower.
Because snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be linked to or worsened by a narrowed airway, allergies that constrict your air passages may make snoring significantly worse when conditions are colder or warmer, wetter or drier, more polluted or more filled with pollen than at other times.
Sometimes, poor sleep in general – including sleep disorders such as insomnia or frequent waking – can worsen snoring as well, as you may be sleep cycling inappropriately, including periods of too-light mixed with very deep (and snore-exacerbating) sleep. This study showed a correlation between seasonal allergies and poor sleep in every category researched.
What Should You Do?
You’re in luck – snoring made worse by allergies can be one of the easiest snoring-related conditions to fix.
Here’s what to do:
- See your doctor. If you already take allergy medication and are noticing a worsening of your snoring symptoms, talk to her about what tests can be done and what new medications you can try (or whether you should adjust your current medication).
- Take ALL allergy medications AS DIRECTED. Don’t skip doses and don’t take more than prescribed.
- Keep your bedroom at a cooler, rather than hot, temperature and make sure the area is well ventilated.
- Change all vents in your home regularly; they accumulate pollen, dust, mites and other undesirable allergy triggers.
- If possible, reduce your exposure to conditions that are known allergy triggers for you.
- If your bedroom is very dry, install a humidifier and clean it regularly.
- If you use a device designed to help reduce your snoring, use it regularly; don’t skip nights.
The most wonderful times of the year don’t have to be snoring season. With a few precautions, this may be your best spring yet.