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National Sleep Foundation Survey Asks Consumers About Allergens and Scents.

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Sneezing, wheezing, sniffles and stuffy noses are the bane of many people’s existence—and can pose a significant obstacle to getting a good night’s sleep, especially now when allergy season is in full bloom. Trusted sleep authority the National Sleep Foundation is stressing the importance of a clean and fresh bedroom to create an optimal environment conducive to a better night’s sleep.

National Sleep Foundation spokeswoman Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D. says that a great night’s sleep can be dramatically impaired by allergy symptoms and that the degree of impairment is related to the severity of those symptoms.

“Everyone wants to wake up feeling great, and what you breathe while you sleep can affect how you feel the next day,” explains Dr. Dautovich, the National Sleep Foundation’s Environmental Scholar. “Allergens in the bedroom environment may include pollen, molds, dust mites or pet dander. In people who are allergic to them, these particles trigger the release of a chemical in the body that causes nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose. These symptoms can lead to poor sleep, which can result in significant daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

“Allergic rhinitis—allergies—may occur year-round or seasonally,” Dr. Dautovich adds. “This time of year, it is usually caused by airborne particles from trees, grass, ragweed, or outdoor mold.”

According to Dr. Dautovich, the best way to cope with allergies is to avoid the allergens and irritants that trigger symptoms. “If you have allergies, take steps to protect your sleep,” she asserts. “Allergy symptoms caused by dust mites in bedding and mattresses may be reduced by washing sheets and blankets once a week in hot water that is at least 130 F and dried in a hot dryer. Most pillows also are washable, even some made of feathers and down. Keeping your sleep surfaces clean, with a pleasing scent, may make the bedroom more inviting and help your body relax and sleep peacefully.

“To minimize your exposure to dust mites and pet dander, it is important to fit your mattress, box spring, and pillows with protective coverings that seal them completely—not just on the top—to keep mites from taking up residence in your bed,” Dr. Dautovich continues. “In addition, you should vacuum frequently; change air filters monthly; keep your windows closed and the air conditioning on to prevent pollens and pollutants from entering; use a dehumidifier to help prevent to accumulation of mold spores; wash pets regularly and do not sleep in the same room with them; and use vacuums and air cleaners rated for their ability to remove allergens from the air.

“Finally, it is important to allow time for sleep,” she adds. “Being sleep deprived may affect your overall health and prevent your body from defending itself against the allergens that cause your symptoms. Also, try this tip before bedtime: take a hot shower, which may be relaxing and also may help open nasal passages; a hot shower also can wash away allergens in the hair or on the skin.”

Recent findings from the National Sleep Foundation’s annual Bedroom Poll indicate that 63% of Americans say “fresh air, free of allergens” is important to a getting a good night’s sleep, and 37% say that allergies have a detrimental impact on their sleep. Additionally, 78% of Americans say they are more excited to go to bed if their sheets have a fresh scent and about three-quarters of those surveyed—71%—agreed that they get a more comfortable night’s sleep on sheets with a fresh scent. About two-thirds—66%— rated a clean bedroom as important in getting a good night’s sleep.

Notably, those who agreed that they get a more comfortable night’s sleep on sheets with a fresh scent were much more likely than their counterparts to agree that they are more excited to go to bed on sheets with a fresh scent—93% versus 49%. Also, women were much more likely than men to agree with this statement—82% of women versus 70% of men. Furthermore, those living in urban areas were much more likely than those living elsewhere to rate sheets with a fresh scent as important —66% urban versus 54% suburban and 51% rural.

About three in ten survey respondents—29%—agreed that they go to bed earlier on sheets with a fresh scent. And when it comes to romance, about two-thirds of respondents, 68%, rated a clean bedroom; 61% rated fresh air, free of allergens, and 57% rated sheets with a fresh scent as important to creating a romantic environment.

National Sleep Foundation chief executive officer David M. Cloud says that the NSF and its Official Licensed Products program are working to bring Americans the best sleep products on the market, as well as disseminating useful sleep health information to educate consumers about the importance of sleep and how to create a bedroom environment that is conducive to a better night’s sleep.

“Controlling nighttime allergies is a great way to improve your sleep, and the National Sleep Foundation encourages everyone to use mattress, box spring and pillow protectors,” Cloud points out. “These products can help consumers rest assured that they are doing all they can to promote a healthy and safe sleep environment.”

The PureCare line of mattress, box spring and pillow protectors are Official Products of the National Sleep Foundation, and include Antibacterial Silver, PureCare Celliant and PureCare Aromatherapy protection products, which offer premium bedding protection.

“PureCare mattress, box spring and pillow protectors can help consumers preserve their bedding and protect themselves and their families from allergens, dust mites, mold, mildew and moisture,” notes Sean Bergman, chief marketing officer for PureCare. “The PureCare product line combines superior technology, innovation and the highest quality materials, and represents a revolution for today’s health- conscious consumers and allergy sufferers. Our goal with these products is to offer consumers the essential elements to create a healthy sleep environment, helping make their bedrooms as free of allergies and other irritants as possible.”

Along with overall bedroom air quality, certain scents also may have an impact on sleep. Historically, for example, lavender has been associated with a soothing and relaxing bedroom environment; eucalyptus is believed to help relieve irritated sinuses and congestion; warm milk and honey evokes comforting memories; and jasmine is considered a scent conducive to romance.

According to Dr. Dautovich, “Having pleasant smelling oils, candles, or sachets in your room could be a calming part of your bedtime routine. Surrounding yourself with the scent you like could help you drift off and, in fact, one study found that smells—both good and bad—influence our dreams. It is also important to keep your room clean and use products with a pleasing smell that make you feel comfortable and calm.”

The National Sleep Foundation is working with consumer products company giant Procter & Gamble on another Official Product, the Febreze Sleep Serenity collection, a line of scents specifically designed for the bedroom. The Febreze Sleep Serenity collection’s calming scents include Quiet Jasmine, Moonlit Lavender and Warm Milk & Honey. The scents are available in a bedside diffuser, bedroom mist, bedroom diffuser and bedding refresher.

“The Febreze Sleep Serenity collection helps consumers incorporate fragrance into their bedtime routines to create a more peaceful and relaxing bedtime atmosphere, which is why it has been selected as an Official Product of the National Sleep Foundation, ” Cloud remarks. “The National Sleep Foundation is dedicated to helping people create bedrooms that contain all of the right components to create an optimal sleep environment.”

Other official Products of the National Sleep Foundation include Perfect Sleeper mattresses by Serta; Live Comfortably bed pillows and mattress toppers by Hollander Sleep Products; Sound Asleep room darkening curtains by Ellery Homestyles, and Dohm sound conditioners by Marpac.

The National Sleep Foundation and its Official Licensed Product partners work together to disseminate information about better sleep through a series of consumer brochures, marketing and merchandising programs, all of which offer consumers a wide variety of sleep informational tips designed to help achieve a better night’s sleep. Brochures offering sleep tips and information are distributed to consumers in Official Licensed Products packages sold through leading retailers.

The National Sleep Foundation’s website, http://sleepfoundation.org, is the Internet’s top destination for sleep health information and includes a sub-site centered on the bedroom environment, “Inside Your Bedroom” (http://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom) to help consumers get the information they need about sleep.

“This informational website looks at how the five senses can impact and influence sleep,” Cloud remarks. “The website is designed to pair information about sleep with practical advice on how to create the optimal bedroom environment for a healthy and restful night’s sleep. The website contains a wide variety of informational tools and tips designed to help people learn about sleep and sleep health.”

About The National Sleep Foundation: The National Sleep Foundation is dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. It is well-known for its annual Sleep in America® poll. The Foundation is a charitable, educational and scientific not-for-profit organization located in Washington, DC. Its membership includes researchers and clinicians focused on sleep medicine, health professionals, patients, families affected by drowsy driving and more than 900 healthcare facilities. To find out more about the National Sleep Foundation, visit www.sleepfoundation.org.

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