Having a stuffy nose can make sleeping difficult, sometimes even impossible. The common cold, the flu, and even allergies can be a cause of a stuffy nose. It becomes difficult to breathe when you have a stuffy nose. You might also end up waking several times since you cannot breathe properly. A stuffy nose makes it difficult to fall asleep, and sleep is crucial for your body’s wellbeing and for healing the wear and tear of your body. Here are some tips to sleep better with a stuffy nose.
Tips to Sleep Better with a Stuffy Nose
Use a Humidifier
Humidifiers are used to add moisture and some heat to the air in your bedroom. Even though studies have not found any substantial benefits of using a humidifier to treat cold symptoms, nevertheless, they have been found to make it easier to breathe when you have a stuffy nose.(1)
When you have a stuffy nose, your nose can start feeling sore and sensitive due to mucus. Humidifiers add moisture to the air and prevent excess dryness. This reduces the pain of breathing while you have a stuffy nose.
Many people choose to add essential oils such as eucalyptus and peppermint, to their humidifier.
However, if you are using a humidifier, then you must clean it regularly since moisture can lead to the growth of fungi and bacteria. Read the instruction manual that came with the humidifier to understand how to best clean and disinfect it.
Sleep With Your Head Elevated
When you have a cold, then congestion often seems to get worse at night. This is because it becomes more difficult for the sinuses and nose to drain. This causes the mucus to collect in the head, making it harder for you to breathe. This may also lead to a sinus headache in the morning.
When you sleep with one or two pillows propped under your head, then this can help drain the mucus and also relieve pressure on the sinuses.(2)
Sleeping on your back with an extra pillow under your head can help you sinuses drain more effectively. Many also find relief by sleeping on a recliner or a couch.
Avoid Blowing Your Nose
When you have a stuffy nose, it is normal to reach for a tissue to blow your nose. However, blowing your nose is surprisingly, not recommended.
This is because research shows that blowing your nose generates extra pressure in the nasal cavities. This can cause the fluid present in the nose to go into your sinuses and accumulating there.(3)
So instead of blowing your nose, try to use a tissue to dab at a runny nose. If you must blow your nose, then also try to blow one nostril at a time and that too gently.
Drinking sufficient fluids during the day will help loosen the mucus. When mucus becomes too thick, it will start sticking to your nose, which further aggravates your congestion.
If you have a cold and a stuffy nose, then you should try to drink at least 11.5 cups of water if you are a woman, and 15.5 cups of water if you are a man. If you have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, then this amount will be even more.(4)
Have Some Honey
Having a stuffy nose can cause people to start breathing through their mouth. This leaves the throat sore and dry. If you also have a sore throat or cough, then this can make it more challenging to sleep. Taking honey helps coat the throat, easing some of your discomforts.
Honey is also known to work as a cough suppressant, and a 2014 study found that honey was most effective in relieving coughing symptoms when compared to the short-acting bronchodilator salbutamol and placebo in children who have a common cold.(5)
Children are also more likely to have honey easily as compared to cold and cough medications.
It is normal to experience a stuffy nose when you have a cold. Antibiotics and other medications are not going to help when you are infected with the cold virus. This is why following these tips can help alleviate your symptoms and ease your congestion.
Sleeping can be a challenge with a stuffy nose, but these simple tips will help you get relief. Remember to see a doctor if your symptoms don’t go away or become severe.
- Singh, M., Singh, M., Jaiswal, N. and Chauhan, A., 2017. Heated, humidified air for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews,(8)
- Publishing, H., 2020. What To Do About Sinusitis – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: <https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-to-do-about-sinusitis> [Accessed 21 April 2020].
- Gwaltney Jr, J.M., Hendley, J.O., Phillips, C.D., Bass, C.R., Mygind, N. and Winther, B., 2000. Nose blowing propels nasal fluid into the paranasal sinuses. Clinical infectious diseases, 30(2), pp.387-391.
- Nationalacademies.org. 2020. [online] Available at: <http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2004/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-Water-Potassium-Sodium-Chloride-and-Sulfate.aspx> [Accessed 21 April 2020].
- Waris, A., Macharia, W.M., Njeru, E.K. and Essajee, F., 2014. Randomised Double Blind study to compare effectiveness of honey, salbutamol and placebo in treatment of cough in children with common cold. East African medical journal, 91(2), pp.50-56.
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