Hay fever can give you hell day or evening. In fact, whether hay fever is worse at night or in the morning depends on where you live, what pollen you’re allergic to, the time of year and other factors too.
Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen1 - the powdery substance given off by flowers - and is a massive pain. It can be worse for different people at different times of the day2 and year. That’s because different types of pollen reach their peak at different times3.
And it’s a myth that the classic runny nose, puffy eyes and itchy throat4 typically caused by hay fever are always worse during the day5.
But here’s the good news: you can show hay fever who’s boss and manage your symptoms better. You just need to understand how hay fever works, what triggers it in you and how pollen levels fluctuate.
Is it hay fever?
You’re likely to be diagnosed with hay if you get symptoms at specific times of year when certain pollens are high6.
But your symptoms could be something else. For example, if you think you have hay fever at night, it could be due to dust, dog or cat allergies. Dust mites are especially common in bedding, so they’re more likely to affect you at night7.
Unsure if your symptoms are caused by hay fever? Ask your pharmacist or doctor.
Can hay fever get worse at night?
For some of us, hay fever symptoms at night can be even worse than during the day. It depends on the weather, type of pollen you’re allergic to, and your routine. Some pollen counts get higher in the evening and at night8. Unfair? Yep. You want to sleep, pollen doesn’t.
Understanding what pollen triggers your allergy is a huge step to managing your symptoms. Airborne grass pollen9, a common cause of allergy10, can be as high at night as it is during the day. Birch pollen also remains high too. The result? A hay fever cough at night, with runny nose or congestion, itchy eyes and mouth. And not many quality Zzzzzzs.
Sleeping with the window open can worsen hay fever at night because it lets pollen into your bedroom. It’s basically like sleeping with the enemy… And if pollen has become attached to curtains or your bed linen during the day, this will also cause you problems when you hit the sack. The solution? Keep windows shut day and night when the pollen you’re allergic to is high.
Can hay fever be worse in the morning?
You wake up. You grab a coffee. Then hay fever hits. If you’re a hay fever sufferer, sneezing and a runny nose in the morning are common. This is partly because some pollen is released during the morning11.
Again, your hay fever may worsen in the morning depending on which pollen you are most allergic to. But the weather plays a part too. Prolonged heavy rain can decrease the amount of pollen in the air, while moderate wind can increase it12.
If your hay fever is worse in the morning, it's worth double-checking your routine to see if you’re not doing yourself any favours. You love that early hug with your cat, but if they’ve spent the night partying in local fields and gardens then their fur will be full of pollen. Or, if you throw the windows open first thing, you’re inviting pollen in.
What can I do to manage hay fever symptoms?
Whether your hay fever is worse at night, in the morning or (ouch) all day long, you can keep it in check. Result. And you’re not alone. In a study by Allergy UK and Kleenex13, 49% of people reported suffering with hay fever symptoms.
First up, find out which pollen you’re allergic to and when the hay fever season is for that pollen type. Tree pollen tends to be highest in spring (March to May), while grass and weed pollen peaks in summer (June to August)14.
Next, keep an eye on pollen forecasts so you can be aware when levels are high.
Finally, to help manage your hay fever symptoms on days when pollen is high, Allergy UK15 has the following tips:
- avoid rural areas – save those country hikes for another day
- change your clothes and shower after coming in from outdoors
- keep windows and doors closed
- consider buying an air pollen filter for the home
- choose a car with a pollen filter or use the air recirculate function
- use a mask when cutting grass or clearing up leaves (better yet, give the job to someone else)
- wipe your pets’ fur after they’ve been outside
- dry clothes indoors
If you need a helping hand with your hay fever, you can pick up some common treatments over the counter:
- nasal sprays
- eye drops
You may need to treat more severe symptoms with prescription medication. In some cases, desensitisation treatment that involves gradual, controlled exposure to allergens can help build your tolerance . Speak to your doctor or pharmacist for support to manage your hay fever symptoms at night and during the day.
Don’t let hay fever drag you down. Take action! Discover what triggers your allergies and tell pollen to jog on.
6 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/ (see video)
The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment