16 Tips on How to Sleep With a Stuffy Nose
Written by Dreamcloud Editorial Team
Last Updated on Jan 31, 2023
Winter chills bring less humidity, and drier air can make you susceptible to cold, leading to a blocked nose. And if you are frustrated with a stuffy nose at night hindering your resting hours, you landed on the right article.
Sleep is vital for recovering from ailments that are causing you a stuffy nose at night; any disturbance can hinder the recovery process. So keep reading further to know how to sleep with a stuffy nose and tick out some of its causes.
Water is lost through sweat, urine, stool, and tears. But did you know besides urinary and kidney problems, dehydration can also trigger colds and a blocked nose? When a person is dehydrated, the mucus inside the sinuses becomes thick, making it harder for the cilia– hair-like projections that help clear out debris, bacteria, and viruses, to push the mucus along. Staying hydrated will allow the cilia to do their job by helping loosen up the mucus inside the nose.
Eat Spicy Foods
Consuming something hot is another answer to a stuffy nose at night. Jonathan Bernstein, MD, a University of Cincinnati allergy researcher, explains that hot chili peppers may help clear specific sinus inflammation. Chilies contain a component called capsaicin, which produces a hot sensation, and is one of the active ingredients in many topical medications used for temporary pain relief. And the study concluded that people who used a nasal spray with Capsicum reported faster relief than the control group.
Try Cough Drops
For people trying to sleep with a blocked nose that is probably associated with the common cold, try cough drops. Menthol is a common ingredient used in various medications, including as a constituent remedy for colds associated with acute upper respiratory tract infections and allergies. However, even though Menthol is often employed in the medicines used for treating common cold, they do not decongest. Instead, they provide an increased sensation of nasal airflow, which helps make breathing easier during the common cold.
Keep Track of Household Humidity
Keeping the house humidified is another great way to treat a stuffy nose at night. A humidifier can increase the air's moisture, eliminating the dry air that can irritate the nose and throat airways. Humidified air can help relieve colds, flu, and stuffy nose by loosening up the mucus. However, there are certain factors to remember when using a humidifier:
- According to the American National Standards Institute, set the density of water vapor relative to room temperature is between 30% to 50% humidity.
- Use a cool mist humidifier.
- Clean the humidifier to decrease the chances of bacteria growth.
Avoid Blowing Your Nose
You may think that the easiest way on how to sleep with a stuffy nose is by having a good blow, but in rare cases blowing your nose may cause more adverse effects than you expect. Experts explain that blowing your nose creates pressure that can cause severe headaches from the force, rupture of the esophagus, fracture in the base of eye sockets, or it can force air into the tissue between the two lobes of the lung.
Besides affecting sleep quality, drinking alcohol before bed when you have a stuffy nose can worsen the symptoms of congestion. Ingesting alcohol can reduce the amount of ADH– a hormone that helps blood vessels constrict and helps the kidneys control the amount of water and salt the body makes, subsequently increasing the amount of urine production. This causes the body to lose water, which can affect congestion. What's more, it can also weaken the immune system.
Drink Calming Tea
Tea is quite a popular beverage, and with each passing day, the evidence regarding the health benefits of tea keeps increasing. For example, there is data showing the cancer-preventive properties of green and black tea. Similarly, drinking something hot, such as tea, with good antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, can help relieve nasal congestion.
Take a Hot Shower
Warmness is always more comforting than cold when sick. Taking a hot bath or shower can help temporarily alleviate the congested nose. The steam and comforting temperature of the hot bath water loosen up the mucus, making it easier to breathe.
Wear Nasal Strips
Wearing a nasal strip is one of the easiest ways to breathe through a stuffy nose at night. The nasal strips are spring-like bands that fit right on the skin between the bridge and the tip of the nose. They work by lifting the outside of the nose to open the nostrils. This opens up the narrowest part of the nostril, thereby improving airflow. Research says that nasal strips can improve stuffy noses and sleep quality.
Take Allergy Medicine
Often stuffy nose can be due to allergic rhinitis or inflammation of the nasal passages. Varying symptoms like itching, sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, and postnasal drip can lead to such inflammation. Antihistamines, the carefully assessed medicine and adequately designed by the clinical trials for the treatment of congestion, can offer relief from consistent sneezing, congestion, and other allergy symptoms.
Turn on the Air Filter
Allergic rhinitis can be easily triggered by pollution and particles in the air, which can lead to a stuffy nose at night. And according to a research study, the use of air purifiers with HEPA filters (air purifiers equipped with high-efficiency particulate air designed to remove indoor pollutants that can trigger allergic rhinitis) significantly reduced medication requirements for patients with house dust mites-induced allergic rhinitis.
Gargle With Salt Water
Even though gargling with salt water may not help with the stuffy nose at night, it is still advisable to do so because it can help relieve sore throat and flush out toxins. Just remember to mix a quarter spoonful of salt in warm water.
Take a Ginger Shot
Ginger is a potent remedy used for thousands of years to treat numerous ailments, such as cold, nausea, migraines, and arthritis. Physicians have advised it because of its substantially beneficial effects. However, experts advise limiting the ginger intake to 3 to 4 grams a day because too much ginger can lead to heartburn and diarrhea.
Apply a Vapor Rub
Vaporub is a menthol ointment containing ingredients like camphor and eucalyptus oil, which are associated with pain relief and other benefits. And as previously mentioned in the article, since Vaporub is a menthol ointment, they do not decongest the nostrils. But provide an increased nasal airflow sensation, making breathing easier with a stuffy nose at night.
Use Essential Oils
The antibacterial effect of essential oils is widely used in cosmetics, health care, traditional medicine, and the food industry, which could be one of the promising solutions for this global problem and the stuffy nose at night. They are a mixture of volatile compounds, meaning essential oils easily evaporate at normal temperatures. And essential oils like eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, clove, peppermint, and rosemary are effective as aromatherapy agents.
Sleep in a Cool, Dark Room
When a person is recovering from ailments, small things like the darkness in the room matter, humans have a built-in internal clock called circadian rhythm that keeps them active during the day and urges them to rest at night. And research has profoundly highlighted the negative impact of light on the quality and quantity of a person's sleep.
Moreover, experts recommend sleeping in a dark room; if that's not possible, you can use blackout shades or eye masks. In addition to the light, try to keep the room temperature comfortable.
What Causes a Stuffy Nose
If you are wondering why does my nose get stuffy at night, then look through the following causes.
Allergic rhinitis is one of the reasons why people get congested noses. It is an atopic disease associated with symptoms of sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, and nasal inflammation. Allergic rhinitis can be easily triggered by pollen from trees, grass, weeds, house dust mites, pets, mold, wood dust, flour dust, and latex. They can be seasonal, have a family history of allergic rhinitis, or have a personal history of asthma.
Upper respiratory infection
Upper respiratory infection is the common reason associated with congestion. It is an infection affecting the nose, mouth, windpipe, throat, and voice box. About 80% of people complaining of nose congestion have an upper respiratory infection. It is caused when a virus or bacteria enters your system through the nose or by hands that has previously touched an infected surface.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Although gastroesophageal reflux disease was not a direct cause of stuffy nose, both conditions have been reported to occur more frequently than expected. This is due to the esophageal-nasal reflex, particularly concerning mucus secretion because of acid reflux. In this case, the best sleeping position will be propping up the upper body with appropriate pillow height.
The deviated nasal septum is one of the common causes of nose obstruction; it occurs when the thin wall between the nasal passages is displaced to one side. And in addition to nasal obstruction, it can lead to mouth breathing, snoring, and external nasal deformity.
When to See Your Doctor
Nasal congestion isn't a cause of concern, as seasonal allergies, the common cold, and the flu can cause it. And even though stuffy noses can be treated at home most of the time, there are certain groups, like children, 65 years and older adults, and people with weak immune systems should see their doctor for a diagnosis.
Sleep with a stuffy nose at night can be uncomfortable, and the best solution is to take steps throughout the day to prevent and treat stuffiness. Start by avoiding anything that can trigger or worsen the symptoms, and consult the doctor if the symptoms last more than a week or get worse.