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What are histamines? How might they be hindering your sleep?

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

Many people know the term antihistamines and can name at least one over-the-counter antihistamine... Benadryl. Antihistamines are intended to block histamines; thus, reducing effects of allergens and allergy related flareups. Antihistamines also result in drowsiness.

But, what are histamines? Histamine is a compound in the body which is released by cells when triggered by allergic reaction or an external allergens (like pollen), which leads to inflammatory reactions, smooth muscle contractions, and capillary dilation. You know the pesky runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, sniffling, itchy skin, swollen eyes nuisances.

Histamine is also a neurotransmitter that is involved in promoting wakefulness and mental alertness. Yep, you read that correctly... histamines promote wakefulness and mental alertness. This means histamines can be a major culprit of those horrible sleepless nights.

So, what is one to do? Well sure you could take an antihistamine, if you so choose and if advised by your doctor. But then you end up on the groggy morning train, or if you are like me you end up on the all day groggy train- ugh- not fun!

You might be asking, "How can I prevent histamines from keeping me up all night without using sleep inducing, groggy the next day antihistamines?" Great question and just another way that I am here to help!

Here are a few tips to help prevent histamines from destroying your critical nighttime sleep:

Before entering your bedroom, remove clothing that you had on during the day. This clothing is covered in pollen and other allergens. After removing this clothing, DO NOT bring it in your bedroom, as you do not want to spread the pollen in your bedroom. Remember pollen triggers histamine and histamine promotes alertness and wakefulness- not good when you are trying to get some Z's

Remove pets from your bedroom (I know this one is really tough for me, too. My fur baby has to sleep in our bedroom). Your pet's fur is a magnet for pollen and allergens. When pets go into your bedroom, they bring pollen and allergens with them- rubbing pollen all over your bedroom furniture, sheets/blankets, rugs, carpet, and you.

Pollen = triggered histamines= alertness and wakefulness = not good for sleep= bad at work (simplified, yes, but I think you get what I am saying here)

Wash your sheets and blankets, frequently, to get rid of pollen and allergens that have made their way into your bedroom and onto your sheets. If you have a comforter on your bed, but you only use when you make your bed or when guests come over (guilty) - tuck that comforter away, in a closet, to prevent pollen and allergen buildup. Just take the comforter, out of the closet, for special occasions- like when guests come over :) If you use your comforter for warmth, get it dry-cleaned a couple times a month to prevent pollen and allergen buildup.

Shower before going to bed. Our hair is a breading ground for pollen, especially if you use hair products. Pollen sticks to hair products. When you lay your head down on your pillow case, all that pollen from your hair is transferred onto your pillow case. Then you are tossing your head and face back and forth, all night long, in a pollen infested pillow case.

Try these tips and let me know how they are working for you! Happy Sleeping!!

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