Pillows make up 20% of your sleep environment.

Allergies? Perhaps your pillow is to blame

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Unfortunately for many, the answer to this children’s rhyme is no laughing matter: severe allergies. May is National Asthma & Allergy Awareness month, as it’s a peak season for allergy and asthma sufferers. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma affects approximately 25.9 million Americans, and more than 50 million Americans suffer from different types of allergies.

Dirty pillow, statistics about pillowsYou likely spend about one-third of your day sleeping (if you’re lucky), and while you may feel safe and sound in your room, your sleep environment can have a significant impact on your overall health, especially when it comes to allergies. WebMD lists seven tips to allergy-proof your bedroom. Tips range from vacuuming regularly and banning pets from your room, to using certain window treatments and purchasing dust mite-proof covers. Although it may seem unlikely that allergy-causing agents are lurking in your bed, it would behoove any allergy- or asthma-prone individual to take action against one allergen in particular: dust mites.
The easiest way to reduce exposure to dust mites is by washing your pillow. Articles written both by the Washington Post and The New York Times discuss how dust mites accumulate in your pillow and exacerbate allergy symptoms. The best way to rid your bedroom of allergens is to wash your bedding often, and while many people do a good job of this when it comes to their sheets and pillow cases, pillows are often neglected. If you are one of these individuals, don’t feel bad, you’re not alone!

Mattress Firm recently conducted a survey asking 1,000 people about their pillow habits and their allergy issues. The survey suggests that while almost 90 percent of people wash their sheets one to three times per month, 20 percent have never washed their pillows, and nearly 45 percent only wash their pillows once a year. Furthermore, while nearly 70 percent of individuals surveyed said a comfortable pillow is important to getting a good night’s rest, many of them are keeping their pillows much longer than the recommended two-year time limit. Unfortunately, this means that most of us are sleeping on pillows that are no longer fluffy, and are full of dust mites, sweat, dead skin and other allergens.

If you are like 80 percent of respondents who indicated that they struggle with allergies, experts recommend that you purchase dust mite-proof sheets and pillow covers, and make sure to wash your pillow every three to six months in hot water with liquid detergent. If you have a memory foam pillow, this advice doesn’t apply to you since memory foam pillows are antimicrobial and don’t need to be washed. But if you are using a pillow that is not memory foam, you should make sure to wash it regularly.

By making this a healthy sleep habit, you will keep dust mites out of your pillow, and eliminate the allergens that cause you to wake up with nasal congestion and itchy eyes. This simple fix can greatly improve your sleep environment, help to improve your overall well-being, and allow you to more fully enjoy those essential eight hours of sleep.

About The Author

Craig McAndrews

Craig McAndrews is the former chief strategy officer for Mattress Firm. In his role, he led product development and merchandising strategy, both in-store and online. When he was a regular contributor to The Daily Doze, he shared insights on to how make the mattress buying process a little easier, and what is really important when it comes to selecting your sleep system.

Craig’s career in the bedding industry initially began with Sealy’s Stearns & Foster, where he regularly worked with Mattress Firm, giving him the opportunity to witness the company’s special culture first hand. He soon joined the Mattress Firm team as a franchise owner, and played a part in the company’s expansion into Arizona. Later, Craig served in a variety of roles for Mattress Firm; and his passion for helping customers “Sleep Happy” and commitment to sharing his extensive industry knowledge with his teammates have garnered the respect and admiration of coworkers and peers alike.

Craig graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He lives in Houston with his wife April and their two sons Ben and Nate.

Best Night’s Sleep: His best nights’ sleep happen at home when he is with his family – and, of course, following a Cowboys win.

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