Could your night-time allergies be the result of dust mites, fungus or bacteria in your mattress?
Allergies are the bane of lots of people’s lives. In fact, the World Allergy Organisation estimates that between 10 and 40% of people in the UK suffer from allergies.
So many different things can cause allergies, but many people find that they suffer most at night in bed. Your own mattress can be causing or exacerbating your allergies so it is essential to find the right mattress for you.
What causes allergies in bed?
One of the main causes of allergies in your bed is Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, otherwise known as the European house dust mite. They like your mattress and your bed generally, because of all the skin flakes that you leave there after a night’s sleep.
That’s what they eat. When they eat it, they leave faeces and that is what is causing your allergic reactions. Yes, you read that right, dust mite faeces. Think of those sleepless nights of sneezing, coughing, watery eyes – that all could have been caused by dust mite faeces.
You’ve also got mould on your bed. You might not be able to see it, but it is there in microscopic form. A study at the University of Manchester found that the average pillow contains up to 16 fungi.
However, the vast majority of mould that live on your bed are harmless, so you don’t need to panic. But, some can cause allergic reactions.
Bacteria is everywhere in the home and you are a major source of it, so it’s not surprising that your bed is home to a lot of them.
Bacteria can cause various sorts of irritations, so it’s important to choose a mattress that is easy to keep clean.
Your sleepless nights then lead to fatigue, low concentration and even depression.
If you tackle the problem at the source and make sure that your mattress/sleeping surface has been designed to be anti-allergenic, then you can get your restful nights back and say goodbye to:
- Difficulty breathing
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Sinus issues
- Sore throat
- Itchy skin
- Hives and rashes
Factors to consider when buying a mattress
When looking for an anti-allergenic mattress, there are a number of important factors to consider to make sure you end up with something that will keep you healthy and restful:
How easy it is to clean.
This is an essential factor because dust mites and bacteria thrive in dirty conditions.
Waterproofing/repellence. The easier it is for your mattress to dry out, the harder it is for dust mites and mould to live in a nice, moist environment.
The better your mattress and your skin breathes, the harder it is for mites to find a dark, dank place to live.
Durability through repeated washes.
This is important to prevent damage over time and create hollows for dust mites.
Best mattress materials for allergy sufferers
Generally speaking, any mattresses with inner springs are bad news for allergy sufferers because the hollow openings give dust mites a nice little home to live in.
You should look for ‘hypoallergenic’ mattresses, but be aware that this is an unregulated term that does not actually guarantee that you won’t have any issues with allergies.
Made from high-density visco-elastic foam. Unlike with natural fibre mattresses, dust mites find it difficult to live in
Additionally, the lack of cavities in memory foam mattresses means that it is much harder for dust mites to get into and live in the material.
On top of the hypoallergenic properties, memory foam is also handy for those suffering from joint and back pain, because of the way it contours to the curvature of your spine after repeated uses.
Also, if you do not wish to buy an entirely new mattress, you could get a memory foam mattress topper that goes on top of your current mattress. However, some people don’t like the way memory foam retains the indent in your mattress.
Another good choice of hypoallergenic mattress is latex. Latex is made from the sap of rubber trees, whipped up with water into a foam which can then be made into a mattress.
Latex is excellent at resisting moisture and has antibacterial qualities, so is effective at fighting the various sources of allergies.
Additionally, similar to memory foam, the lack of hollow spaces in the mattress means that dust mites find it more difficult to make a home there. Please note that some people are allergic to latex, so obviously for them this would not be a good option. In comparison to memory foam, latex will not remember your shape, but it will not cause the same long-term indent in your mattress.
Relax and Rest
A restful night’s sleep can make the difference between a good day and a bad one. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, so this is something that you should make sure you’re getting right. Allergies are unpleasant and can ruin a night’s sleep, so any step you can take to combat them in your bed can make a real difference.
Shop around for hypoallergenic mattresses and look out for memory foam and latex for the best results. Whether you decide on latex or memory foam depends on how much you like long term indent of memory foam or the more immediate response of latex. Finally, remember that hypoallergenic is not a regulated term, so look at the label and ask questions before buying.
About the author
Charles Wood works at Baltex, a producer and specialist in technical textiles. The company has forged a continued alliance with The University of Bolton to craft a material and surface that supports the skin and prevents against pressure sores and promotes breathability.