Young woman with blanket and pillows experiencing insomnia due to allergies

Can allergies cause insomnia?

Medically reviewed on August 1, 2022 by Karen Janson, M.D. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Is a stuffy, itchy, or runny nose, and a scratchy throat keeping you up all night? Between 20 and 30% of adults in America and Europe suffer from allergies. [1] But can allergies cause insomnia? Studies show that the answer is yes, they can. [2]

Whether you experience seasonal allergies or deal with them all year long, allergy-induced insomnia can be detrimental to your health. Insomnia affects your entire body system—sleep disturbance may lead to mental health issues like depression and insomnia, and it can increase your risk for serious physical diseases. [3]

There are many reasons why people have insomnia. Whether it’s stress-induced insomnia, a melatonin deficiency, or seasonal allergies, there are ways to manage it.

What allergens are causing my sleep problems, and how can I manage them?

Your nightstand is covered in tissues; your throat is dried out from breathing through your mouth, and your eyes are swollen because you can’t stop rubbing them—they’re just too itchy.

If any of this sounds familiar, you have probably experienced a sleepless night due to an allergic reaction. That said, a variety of allergens might be keeping you up at night, but the prime suspects include:

  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen

Dust mites

Dust mites are incredibly tiny creatures who feed on the dead skin that flakes off your body each day. [4] Your house is a perfect place for them to live—it’s basically an infinite restocking pantry.

A dust mite allergy could appear as:

  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Itchy eyes, nose, mouth, throat, or skin
  • Red eyes or watery eyes
  • A stuffed or runny nose (nasal congestion)
  • Congestion in your throat [4]

Dust mite allergies can also make asthma symptoms worse.

What can I do about dust mite allergies that lead to poor sleep?

You have lots of options for addressing your dust mite allergies, from over-the-counter medicines to anti-dust mite strategies: [4]

  • Over-the-counter allergy medications – Antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants may address the symptoms of your allergic reaction to dust mites. However, some allergy medication formulations can cause daytime sleepiness, which may affect your sleep pattern.
  • Allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy – When prescribed by your healthcare professional, allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy can effectively address your dust mite allergy.
  • Dust-proof mattress and pillow covers – Dust-proof bedding can keep dust mites away from your sleeping area to reduce nighttime allergies. Additionally, be sure to regularly wash your sheet in hot water to mitigate dust mite buildup.

Pet dander

Pets can be a wonderful source of joy and companionship in your life. Unfortunately, they can also be a regular source of allergies.

The dead skin, or dander, that flakes off your feline friend or canine companion (or even your horse, hamster, or bird) could be causing allergy symptoms similar to those of dust mites. In addition, pet dander allergy sufferers may experience:

  • Pain and pressure in your face (a sign of a sinus infection)
  • Frequently waking up at night
  • Puffy, blue skin beneath your eyes
  • Eczema and hives [5]

Like dust mite allergies, pet dander allergies are likely to make your asthma symptoms more pronounced. [5]

What can I do about pet dander allergies that create a sleep disturbance?

If you suspect your pet’s dander is causing your allergies, there are things you can do to mitigate your allergies: [6]

  • Keep your pet out of your bedroom – This “allergy-free” zone will be a safe space for you to breathe and rest easily.
  • Cleanse your space – Use HEPA air filters to clean the air of your pet’s dander, vacuum frequently, and cover any furniture that your pet lounges on with washable covers.
  • Give your pet a bath – Bathe your furry friend at least once a week. Even though pets don’t always love bath time, they’ll love that you can cuddle with them after the dander is removed from their skin.
  • Try medications – Antihistamines, nasal sprays, or allergy shots may help reduce your allergy symptoms at night.


Pollen is a hard-to-avoid allergen that causes hay fever, which may cause you to experience the following: [7]

  • Headaches and earaches
  • Fatigue
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Feelings of tiredness
  • Itchy eyes, throat, mouth, or ears [8]

Hay fever season typically starts in the early spring. Once again, these seasonal allergies will exacerbate any asthma symptoms and may cause a tightening of the chest, coughing, or shortness of breath. [8]

What can I do about pollen allergies that make sleep difficult?

Pollen levels are usually reported in weather apps and on news stations. On high-pollen days, follow this advice to decrease your allergies: [9]

  • Stay inside – Avoid the outdoors if it’s hot and dry outside. Humidity and rain make pollen fall to the ground, so you may be less likely to have an allergic reaction on a muggy or rainy day.
  • Hire help – Ask a friend, family member, or neighbor who doesn’t have pollen allergies to cut your grass to avoid contact with any allergens.
  • Take medications – Talk to your healthcare provider about antihistamines, nasal sprays, or allergy shots that may help reduce your symptoms.

Test your immune response with Everlywell

A stuffy nose, scratchy throat, and itchy eyes can prevent a night of restful sleep. Fortunately, an Everlywell Indoor & Outdoor Allergy Test helps you identify allergens that may be causing a night of tossing, turning, and sniffling.

Our at-home test measures your immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody reactivity to 40 common indoor and outdoor allergens, including:

  • Grasses
  • Trees
  • Weeds
  • Mold
  • Pet allergens
  • Pests
  • Dust mites

Identify what’s keeping you up at night with Everlywell.

Can Allergies Make You Tired? How to Manage Allergy Fatigue and Sleep Better

What are the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction?

Dust allergy symptoms and causes


  1. Recent advances in allergic rhinitis. National Library of Medicine. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  2. Sleep and allergic disease: a summary of the literature and future directions for research. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  3. Insomnia. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  4. Dust Mite Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  5. Pet Allergy. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  6. How to live with allergies and pets. The Humane Society. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  7. Allergies, asthma, and pollen. Medline Plus. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  8. Hay fever. NHS. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  9. Allergies, asthma, and pollen. Medline Plus. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
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