Five Spring Cleaning Tasks to Prevent Allergies

It’s that time of year again: allergy season. Even if you’ve let weekly cleaning slide, spring cleaning is a great opportunity to regroup and significantly reduce allergens in your home on behalf of your family. Household allergens can be a problem for those with allergies but can also trigger allergic symptoms in people without allergies. Dust mites are only one issue – many harmful toxins and bacteria are carried by the dust on your floor, carpet, upholstery and bedding. Dust mite excretion, pollen, and pet dander are three common forms of allergens also found within dust. There are several measures you can take to reduce the impact of these allergens on your family – nip allergens in the bud with these five spring cleaning tasks.

  1. Dust your blinds

Cleaning blinds is a chore that is oft forgotten or neglected but is important. When left neglected, they can get layered with dust, pet fur, skin cells, and dander. While it has been recommended to get rid of drapes and blinds altogether, as they trap both dust and allergens, where you can switch to roll shades, there are measures you can take to mitigate the dust issue with blinds. Clean blinds each month with a microfiber cloth or a microfiber blind cleaner. You can also  use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment. Remember that with all items in your house to dust weekly and vacuum regularly.

  1. Flip and air out your mattress

Flipping and airing out your mattress is so important as no matter how you clean your sheets and vacuum your mattress, your mattress will eventually accumulate thousands of dust mites and other microbes that cause allergy problems. Many mattresses, especially memory foam, trap heat which make it the perfect warm, damp breeding environment for bacteria. So what can you do? Picking out a mattress that is less conducive to dust mites is key. Vacuuming your mattress regularly is key as well. Since dust mites thrive in warm, damp places, flipping your mattress and airing out your mattress regularly helps significantly. If you have had your mattress for over 10 years, it’s likely soiled with all types of allergens. It might be best to get a new mattress all together.

  1. Get special bedding

Spring cleaning is a time when you can and should consider special investments and upgrades that promote an allergen free household. You might want to consider special bedding for your mattress. Consider dust-proof covers on your mattress and pillows to keep dust mites out. It may seem like a splurge, but mattress covers and bed sheets when uncleaned can be covered with human and pet hair, dander, pollen, and dust mites.

  1. Get an air purifier

Another great investment to make during spring cleaning is purchasing an air purifier. A HEPA air purifier is said to eliminate 99% of allergens in your home. Make sure you clean them every three to six months and clean the filter outside of your home rather than inside. It helps the purifier continue to do its job if you keep doors and windows closed tight during pollen season.

 

  1. Wipe off your pets

Spring cleaning is all about beginning new positive habits, one of which is wiping off your pets. In particular, wiping off a pet’s paws when they come inside the house from the backyard is a must. Allergens like pollen love to cling to paws and fur. Consider a packet a pet wipes to keep handy next to each door to the house, especially before they get on your bed. For that matter, it is suggested that you keep pets out of the bedroom. That can be really tough if you already have norms and a routine set where your dogs sleep with you, but keeping them off the bed protects you from dander. Also, if you have pet allergies, it is essential you do not let dogs sleep with you.

 

Remember that spring cleaning just like spring itself, is a time for new beginnings, especially when it comes to cleaning routines and practices. Get this spring started off right by putting into place new cleaning habits that lead to a healthier household.

Written By Guest Blogger: Lisa Smalls

Does Everyone Need Eight Hours of Sleep?

 

Everyone wants to know—how much sleep to I really need? While everyone might not need exactly eight hours, the average adult does need seven to nine. Without that important time for the body to rest, recharge, and heal, mental and physical capacities start to suffer. The good news is there are many habits and behaviors that can be developed to increase both sleep quality and amount.

Sleep plays an important role in the learning process by helping with the acquisition and consolidation of memories. During sleep, the brain strengthens neural connections to consolidate and solidify memories. If a person enters a state of sleep deprivation, which occurs when they get six hours of sleep or less, the mind begins to wander, neurons cannot work efficiently, and the coordination of information and memories begins to slow.

Memories aren’t the only area of the brain affected by sleep loss. Without enough sleep, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions, becomes over sensitive to negative thoughts and events. At the same time, activity goes down in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that applies logic and reasoning to emotions. Irritability, anger, and aggression become much more common as the number of sleep hours go down.

Other systems slow down and decrease their efficiency during sleep loss too. The immune system, in particular, takes a hit in a couple of different ways. First, the immune system goes to work healing and rejuvenating cells while you sleep. A shortened sleep period makes it hard for the body to reach a state of health and equilibrium.

Secondly, the process through which cells create energy is linked to the timing of circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms control the sleep-wake cycle. If the circadian rhythms get disrupted, cell energy production is also disrupted resulting in fatigue. Less cell energy comes back to further disrupt the circadian rhythms, creating a vicious cycle of sleeplessness and fatigue that continue to feed one another.

To boost memory and learning, stabilize emotions, and increase energy levels, sleep has to be a priority.

 

Better Sleep Through Better Habits

Allergies can cause some issues that make getting a good night’s rest more challenging, but with consistent effort, better, more efficient sleep may only be a few good habits away. Allergens in the bedroom like dust, pet dander, and pollen present the biggest problems. Swollen airways and excess mucus can cause sleep apnea and other breathing-related sleep disorders.

Remove as many allergens from the bedroom as possible by:

  • Keeping windows closed when pollen counts are high
  • Regularly vacuuming mattresses
  • Using plastic casings for pillows and mattress
  • Washing sheets every week in water over 130 degrees and drying them in the dryer (not outside)
  • Buying allergy-free pillows

Healthy sleep habits can also improve sleep efficiency (the amount of time spent in bed versus actual time slept) and overall sleep hours. A few ways to get ahead on sleep include:

  • Getting Comfortable: A bedroom that’s kept completely dark with the temperature between 60 to 68 degrees creates optimal sleep conditions. Comfort may also come in the form of a therapeutic pillow, weighted blanket,  or breathable natural fiber sheets.
  • Be Consistent: A regular wake up time and bedtime help the body adjust the release of sleep hormones.
  • Avoid Stimulants and Electronics: Stimulants, like caffeine, block sleep hormones while electronics give off a blue light that suppresses them. Avoid both in the hours before bed.

While everyone might not need eight hours of sleep, everyone needs at least seven hours on a consistent basis. If it is a priority, both mind and body will function at their best.

 

Article provided by:

Tuck is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NBC News, NPR, Lifehacker, and Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.