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Welcome to the sleep section!

Many people have sleep problems because of eczema that can leave you tired and irritable from lack of sleep. The next few pages will look at things that can help break the cycle of sleep loss.

This section will look at:

  • Why can’t I sleep?
  • Tips for helping you itch less at night
  • What can I do if I wake up scratching?
  • Tips for helping you sleep

Everyone is different so it’s about finding what works for you. This section may give you some ideas of new things to try until you find a routine that works for you.

Frequently asked questions

Why can't I sleep?

Eczema might be causing you to wake up at night if it is itchy. If your eczema is waking you up at night, it is a sign that it is getting out of control.

You may need a flare control cream to get control of the eczema. Check out the 'flare control creams' section from the menu above to find out more.

The next few pages will give you tips on reducing night-time scratching and getting a good night’s sleep.

How can I create an environment that will reduce itching?

Lots of people with eczema find that itching is the main thing stopping them getting a good night’s sleep. Itching can feel worse when you are hot.

Tips for helping you itch less at night:

  • Use a thinner duvet or just a few sheets in the summer.
  • Keep the bedroom cool by opening the window during the day.
  • If you are allergic to tree and grass pollen, you may want to close the window when it starts to get dark as pollen levels rise at sunrise and sunset.
  • Keep the central heating in your bedroom low in the winter.
  • Use plain cotton sheets if you can.
  • Loose fitting cotton pyjamas will help keep you cool.
  • Have a bath or shower about an hour before bed and use moisturising creams after. This can help soothe the skin during the night.

What can I do if I wake up scratching?

Some people find they wake up scratching. Sometimes this can break the skin and make it bleed.

  • Speak to your doctor or nurse if you have used your moisturising cream and flare control cream for more than a week and the eczema is still not under control. 
  • You can keep a moisturising cream near the bed in case you need it at night.
  • Some people prefer to keep their moisturising cream in the fridge so that it is cool and soothing.
  • Taking off some of the bed sheets or turning them over can be refreshing in the night and can keep you cool.
  • If you are scratching so much the skin bleeds, you may find your skin can stick to the sheets. Some people find it useful to wear loose clothing or use special bandages to protect the skin area. It would be best to speak to a doctor or nurse about using bandages.
  • You can find out more about scratching in the ‘ Beat the Itch ’ section, which you can get from the ‘ living well with eczema ’ menu above.

Tips for helping you sleep

Many people without eczema have trouble sleeping and eczema may not be the reason for waking up often. If there is no difference between when eczema is clear and when there is a flare, then it is likely there are other reasons for poor sleeping.

Other people have told us that scratching can happen right before falling asleep, especially during stressful times or if you’re feeling wide awake.

Click on an option below to find out more about tips that others have found useful to help them get to sleep:

Wind-down time

Many people find winding down before going to sleep helps with de-stressing either by:

  • Reading

  • Listening to music

  • Screens off an hour before sleep time

  • Relaxation techniques – You can find out about some of these techniques in the ‘ stress and eczema ’ section, which you can get from the ‘ living well with eczema ’ menu above.

Antihistamines (medication for hay fever)

Antihistamines are medicines used to make the symptoms of allergies better. You may have heard about people with eczema using antihistamines before going to sleep.

There is no strong evidence that antihistamines help with going to sleep. Although, some people with eczema find it helps.

If you do decide to take antihistamines before bedtime they should be taken about an hour before. They should only be used for a few days at a time. This is because people get used to them quickly and they stop working as well.