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Sleep is important for everyone’s health, but when you have severe eczema, trying to go to bed can be extremely uncomfortable.

Without enough sleep, not only can it affect your health and mental well-being, but your eczema can get worse, too.

In a large 2015 study that surveyed nearly 35,000 U.S. adults, they found that people with eczema had a higher chance of having fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and insomnia.

The participants also reported more sick days and doctor’s visits related to disturbed sleep associated with eczema. They even found an increased risk of psychological conditions and workplace accidents.

But a good night’s sleep doesn’t have to elude you when you have severe eczema. Here are some tips you can try to catch more Zzz’s and get a better night’s sleep.

A number of things can lead to eczema flare-ups during the middle of the night. Potential factors that can cause worsening nighttime eczema include:

  • loss of skin moisture
  • body temperature changes
  • exposure to allergens

Scratching at night can also happen subconsciously. And when skin is scratched during sleep, it can lead to more itching.

Moisturizer applied after a morning shower will likely have worn off by the time bedtime rolls around, and this can also cause greater itching.

From bathing each night to using special moisturizers, there are several ways you can try to reduce eczema itch at night.

For starters, it’s important to reduce your eczema triggers. Triggers that lead to flare-ups vary from person to person, and it can be helpful to spend a few weeks or months identifying your triggers.

A journal can be a good place to keep track of flare-ups, noting when they occur. If, for example, your eczema flares when you’re stressed or if you have worn a new piece of clothing or tried a new body moisturizer or soap, write that down.

Once you’ve figured out your triggers, you can do your best to eliminate or at least minimize them. This will set you up well for trying some of the below tips.

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your health. Before going to bed each night, there are several ways you can ensure you’ll get the rest your mind and body need.

Adjust your thermostat

Body temperature and eczema are closely related. The hotter you become, the worse your eczema tends to be.

Many people wake up in the middle of the night because they become overheated, and their eczema-related itching worsens.

Here are a couple of methods you can use to keep cool at night:

  • Adjust your thermostat before you go to bed: This can include turning off a heater or turning down the temperature anywhere from 3–5 degrees.
  • Buy an automated temperature system: You can program these to decrease the temperature at a certain time every night. This cuts down on the guesswork and memory that’s required to keep your room cool.

By keeping tabs on the temperature levels in your room when you go to sleep, you may be able to reduce the severity of your eczema symptoms.

There’s no universal temperature that’s best for everyone, though. You may have to try different temperatures to find the one that’s the most comfortable for you while you sleep.

Choose soothing linens

The material of the linens you sleep on can also greatly impact your body temperature while you sleep.

Try making these adjustments to your linens and bed:

  • Purchase protective dust mite covers for your pillows and mattress: Dust mites are a common trigger of eczema for many people. If this is the case for you, using these covers on your mattress and pillows may reduce itchiness while you sleep.
  • Buy duvets, blankets, or quilts made from materials that can be easily washed and dried: Fabrics that are 100% cotton or bamboo are a good place to start. This means that you can wash them frequently to remove dust mites or skin debris that might otherwise affect your sleep.

Clean, soft linens made of breathable fabrics are usualy best for people with eczema who wish to sleep better at night.

Reduce nighttime scratching

Many people unintentionally scratch their eczema patches at night. To reduce the risk of scratching eczema patches and making them worse, keep your nails trimmed and neat.

You may also find it helpful to wear soft cotton gloves at night to cover your fingernails and cut down on any itching. Ideally, you can train yourself by wearing gloves to stop itching. Once you’re less likely to itch, you can take off the gloves at night.

Apply moisturizer before bed

If you go to sleep with dry skin, you’re likely to wake up several times because of it.

About 30 minutes to an hour before you go to bed, apply thick moisturizing cream to the areas affected by eczema.

Doing this an hour before you go to bed allows the ointment to better sink into your skin. It’s also a good idea to moisturize right after you get out of a bath or shower while your skin is still damp to lock in the moisture.

Practice good sleep hygiene

The same sleep habits that help people without eczema can apply to people with eczema.

Here are a few examples of these sleep habits:

  • Stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up time every day: This trains your body to go to sleep and stay asleep.
  • Use relaxation techniques about an hour before going to bed: Examples include meditating, bathing, listening to soothing music, or reading a book.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals, drinking caffeine, or smoking before going to bed: These habits are all associated with disrupted sleep.
  • Turn off all computer and phone screens before bed: The light emitted by electronics can trick your brain into thinking it isn’t time to go to bed yet. Visual cues like a dark room make you more likely to have a better night’s sleep.

These steps are all aimed at reducing feelings of stress and anxiety that can further affect sleep. As an added bonus, by reducing stress, you can also improve your eczema and reduce flare-ups.

Choose appropriate sleepwear

The clothes you sleep in can affect how well you rest, just like how the fabrics on your bed can affect your sleep.

Don’t wear clothing made of fabric that’s too rough, scratchy, or tight. Make sure you’re wearing appropriate clothing, depending on how hot or cold it is, so you can avoid sweating.

When choosing your pajamas, go for airy, loose, and breathable fabrics that absorb moisture. Pajamas that are made of 100% cotton are generally your best bet.

If you’re having trouble sleeping because of excessive nighttime itching, you can talk with a dermatologist about your eczema.

If you have a doctor monitoring your eczema, they may want to prescribe a special topical cream or suggest other lifestyle changes to try and reduce flare-ups that occur after bed.

If you’ve been having trouble with nighttime flare-ups for a long time and you’re not getting enough sleep, you may want to discuss possible treatments with your primary care doctor. A short-term sleep medication may be necessary. Or your doctor may suggest different holistic treatments for getting more sleep.

If you have symptoms like difficulty concentrating, severe daytime sleepiness, and sudden changes in mood, these are all signals that your eczema is disrupting your sleep.

Ideally, you should be sleeping around 7–8 hours per night. If you’re not achieving that amount of sleep, try the tips listed above to reduce your symptoms.

You should also consider talking with your doctor about ways you can adjust your medications to improve your sleep — and your skin.