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I’ve had allergies for as long as I can remember.

As a kid, that meant I didn’t have to mow the lawn—but it also prevented me from earning the coveted Girl Scout camping badge. As an adult, my allergies have only worsened. I’m still sensitive to freshly cut grass. But I also know that off-gasses from new carpet, scented candles, my best friend’s dog and down pillows all aggravate my allergies.

And I’m not alone in my reactivity.

As a result, I’ve become more vigilant about my exposure to common, and often surprising, allergens. I began making smarter lifestyle choices to tame my allergy triggers—including my bed.

Here’s the skinny on how you can do the same.

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is a condition in which your body’s immune system reacts abnormally to an otherwise harmless environmental substance.

Those substances, called allergens, can include foods (think peanuts or milk); outdoor sources such as plant and tree pollen, or bee stings; indoor triggers like dust mites, pet dander, and mold; irritants like tobacco smoke, cleaning products, and perfume; and medicines such as penicillin.

Allergens can be seasonal or perennial and can cause a range of negative mild, moderate, or severe symptoms. Allergic rhinitis—aka hay fever—affects the eyes and nose, causing nasal congestion, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Eczema and contact dermatitis cause skin reactions like rashes. Asthma impairs the lungs creating breathing difficulty, coughing, and wheezing.

As in all health matters, prevention is preferable and superior to treatment. Allergies can interfere with the daily activities of life. Minimizing exposure to allergens is key to keeping your immune system from struggling.

Allergies are Widespread

Allergies and asthma are on the rise. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology estimates that 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, including six million children. According to the World Allergy Organization, asthma has increased by a whopping 50 percent every decade for the past 40 years. About 24 million Americans have asthma.

These conditions can be inherited, but genetics alone don’t explain such a significant global upsurge. In many cases, environmental conditions are a factor.

While spending so much time at home during the COVID-19 lockdowns, some people experienced a puzzling flare-up in allergies. Could the culprit be right under their heads?

Is Your Mattress Making You Sick?

If you have allergies, you already have a harder time falling and staying asleep. Allergy sufferers also report less restorative sleep and a greater likelihood of snoring. Coupled with anxiety and stress, poor quality sleep negatively affects whole-body health.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Over the past few decades, we’ve learned that pesticides used in food production can make us ill. Similarly, some of the materials used in mattress manufacturing can be an unexpected source of allergens. These components can actually harbor dander, dust mites, mold, and mildew. In addition, many mattresses are treated with perfumes or flame retardants, chemicals that can set off all kinds of allergic reactions.

What irony! Your mattress might be the reason you aren’t getting restful sleep.

Even if you don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of nightly sleep, our mattresses have become “command central” for many of us. Because we spend so much time in our beds—watching TV, coupling, gaming, and working—having a hypoallergenic mattress is vital.

Allergy-Friendly Materials

Buying a mattress is a significant financial investment. Unfortunately, like other big-ticket items, sorting out claims from facts can be confusing.

Allergy concerns further complicate the already bewildering buying decision. Simply put, the stakes are higher for us sensitive types. So we need to be savvy about the more recent advancements in the sourcing, fabrication, and technology of mattresses.

Mattresses are composed of many layers of materials. When evaluating mattresses, take your cue from Mother Nature. Mattresses made with naturally hypoallergenic materials will reduce allergen exposure and boost sleep quality. Plus, natural materials are non-toxic, sustainable, and better for the planet.

In my quest for the perfect, hypoallergenic sleep solution, I discovered the EcoSleep mattress by Brooklyn Bedding—specifically designed to resist dust mites, mold, and mildew. That’s because the EcoSleep mattress is made with breathable organic cotton, Joma™ wool, and Rainforest Alliance-certified latex, processed using biodegradable ingredients from renewable sources.

This hygienic blend of comforting materials combines to prevent allergens from building up in the EcoSleep mattress by wicking away moisture and minimizing heat retention—all of which means a healthier, more antimicrobial sleep experience.

Now that I’ve discovered how a chemical-free, “clean” mattress can safeguard my respiratory system, I’m sleeping a lot easier and can even—atchoo!—occasionally brave camping under the stars.

That’s a badge of honor.

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