Whether you’ve got a stuffy nose from a cold, flu or allergies, sleeping through the night can be a challenge with all that congestion. Read on for tips on how to sleep better when you are congested.
- Elevate your head. Congestion tends to be worse when you lie down because it is harder for the nose and sinuses to drain in that position. Excessive mucus makes it harder to breathe and may even trigger a sinus headache in the morning. To combat this, try elevating your head with a few pillows to help drain the sinuses more easily.
- Use a humidifier to moisturize the air, prevent excessive dryness and reduce the pain of breathing when you’re congested. You may try adding essential oils, such as peppermint or eucalyptus, to the humidifier. NOTE: Clean humidifiers regularly, as moisture can promote the growth of bacteria and fungi. It is best to read the machine’s instructions on cleaning and disinfecting it.
- Use a saline spray or rinse, which contains a small amount of salt mixed into sterile water. Saline rinses can help flush out congested sinuses as well as help relieve irritation and swelling so you feel less congested at night. Find saline rinses that do not contain drugs. These are safe to use several times per night.
- Try a spoon of Manuka honey. A 2014 study compared (plain) honey with a placebo and the bronchodilator drug salbutamol in children with a common cold. Honey was found to be the most effective option for easing symptoms. Honey also coats the throat, easing discomfort and dryness from breathing through the mouth when you have a stuffy nose. Furthermore, Manuka honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Keep a box of tissues, saline spray, wastebasket, bottle of water, etc. by the bed to make nightly interruptions shorter and more comfortable.
- Take a warm shower before bed. Steam loosens the dried mucus and can help the nose drain before bed, reducing pain and congestion. Try gently pressing or massaging the skin covering the sinuses to promote further drainage.
Remember to seek medical help if:
- A person with a weak immune system, such as an older adult or a baby, develops flu symptoms.
- A baby has signs of congestion. Babies under 2 months only breathe through their noses, so congestion can quickly cause serious breathing issues.
- A person finds it impossible to breathe or shows signs of breathing problems, such as a fast heart rate, blue lips, rapid breathing, dizziness or severe changes in mood or personality.
- A person has congestion for longer than 2 weeks or finds that it gets progressively worse over several days.
- A person has a high fever of 103.1°F (39.5°C) or a fever that lasts for longer than a few days.
- A person has a stuffy nose along with signs of an asthma attack, such as sudden difficulty breathing, wheezing or gasping for air.