About 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, which are caused by plant pollens. Pollen is a fine powder that is produced by male conifers (plants whose seeds grow inside cones) and flowering plants. Also called flower sperm, pollen carries the plants' male gametes (reproductive cells) of seed plants to the pistils (the female parts) of the same plant or of other plants of the same species. This pollination is how the plants are fertilized and able to produce seeds. But when the wind carries pollen, it also causes an allergic reaction in many people when their immune systems react to the pollen they breathe in.

People with allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies) are more likely to have trouble sleeping than people who don't. In fact, close to 80 percent of seasonal allergy patients experience sleep problems. These problems lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating and poor performance at school and at work. In fact, more than 3.8 million days of school and work are missed every year due to seasonal allergies. Many seasonal allergy patients also suffer from irritability and depression. Researchers are not yet sure whether these mood changes are additional allergy symptoms or if they are caused by a lack of sleep.

If you have sleep problems due to your seasonal allergies you should discuss it with your allergist who may be able to help you. Don't treat yourself with over-the-counter antihistamines. Although these may help you fall asleep, you're likely to wake up when the drugs wear off four hours later. Get your allergies treated because the better controlled they are, the better you'll be able to sleep.