For many people, bedroom allergies are responsible for nighttime discomfort and sleep problems. After all, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when you have trouble breathing, have a headache, or struggle with itchy nose or eyes. With such a wide array of both natural antigens and material irritants that cause allergy-like symptoms, it’s often difficult to determine the source of our troubles. Chemical irritants appear just as frequently in our bedrooms as natural allergens. Learning to distinguish an allergen from an irritant and identifying remedies that eliminate both can dramatically improve the quality of your sleep.

Natural Allergens vs. Man-Made Irritants

Allergens: Set off an immune response in the body. The body views the allergen as a foreign substance and mounts defenses to expel it. This process manifests as classic allergy symptoms: sneezing, itchy eyes, chronic cough, or runny nose. In more severe cases, allergies cause respiratory complications such as asthma. Common natural allergens include dust, mold, mildew, dust mite feces, cotton linters, pollen, and animal dander.

Irritants: Cause inflammation and discomfort upon contact with the body. Irritants are often chemical in nature. It’s nearly impossible to avoid introducing them into your bedroom setting. For example, polyurethane foam, which is used in many mattresses, contains toluene and isocynates. Irritants usually affect the respiratory system, and can trigger breathing difficulties. Irritants may also bother your skin, causing rashes, excess dryness, and inflammation.

No matter how many precautions we take, we remain subjected to microscopic organisms and chemical agents. The first step in relieving allergen- and irritant-related discomfort is to educate yourself. If you’re experiencing persistent allergy-like symptoms that worsen at night or seem strongest when you wake up in the morning, it’s time to investigate. A good place to start is knowing the materials that make up your mattress, bedding, and bedroom furnishings. You may need to experiment by removing items from your environment and checking results.

The European Sleep Works Solution

One of the best ways to purge your sleep environment of potential allergens or irritants is keeping sleep products as natural as possible. European Sleep Works builds our mattresses, pillow tops, and pillows using the cleanest, eco-certified materials we can find—eco-certified cotton covers lined with Merino wool, and all-natural latex. And because our mattress is generously quilted with wool, they are naturally flame retardant.

We use cotton and wool for a number of reasons. Both offer breathability for drier beds. Wool is naturally drier than synthetic materials, thus minimizing moisture buildup and the growth of fungus, bacteria, and mildew. Our bed linens are also made from natural fibers—wool and camel hair-filled duvets and organic cotton sheets, blankets, mattress pads and pillow covers.

We cushion our mattresses with all-natural washed latex, a material that is anti-allergenic, anti-microbial, and dust mite-resistant. These characteristics make all-latex mattresses ideal for people allergic to dust mites. Mites require certain types of bacteria and fungus in order to digest and process their food. Anti-microbial latex does not provide the proper foundation for the dust mite life cycle, which helps keep the population low.

Another common-sense precaution is keeping your bedding well washed and dried. To kill dust mites and other allergens, The Mayo Clinic recommends washing bedding in water at least 130 F and then running the bedding through a dryer set to the same temperature for at least 20 minutes. Studies have shown that dry heat is an effective way to kill bacteria and mites, especially because they require moisture to survive.

In addition to avoiding bedroom allergens, people suffering from nightime breathing issues have found our patented Oxygen Pillow helpful. This all-natural latex pillow supports better breathing by positioning the head and neck for optimal air flow.  Learn more about O2 pillow technology here.