How To Sleep With A Blocked Nose

How To Sleep With A Blocked Nose (2024)

Last updated: 31.10.2023 Reading time: 3 Min.

Sleeping with a blocked nose can be an absolute nightmare! 🤧

A nose blocked at night can make it hard to drift off, leaving you exhausted and cranky the next day. 😩

But there are plenty of ways to reduce congestion and sleep better at night.

Below are 10 tips on how to sleep with a stuffy nose. 👇

Person unable to sleep because of a blocked nose

What causes a blocked nose at night?

A blocked nose when sleeping is a common nuisance caused by excess mucus [1] from a common cold or flu, which can affect those with a weakened immune system.

Allergies and hay fever can also play a role, but not all stuffy noses are due to allergies. 👃

Woman with allergies

Nonallergic or vasomotor rhinitis [2] can cause persistent congestion without a clear cause.

Those with acid reflux may also experience the symptoms of a blocked nose in bed.

Whatever the cause, the below tips will show you how to unclog your nose at night for a more rested sleep. 👇

Unblocking your nose before bed

A blocked nose is no fun when you're trying to get some rest.

Before you hit the hay, try these tips to help relieve the symptoms of a stuffy nose:

Take medicine

Over-the-counter cold and flu medicines, decongestants or antihistamines can help with the symptoms of a nose blocked at night. 💊

Woman sleeping after taking medication
Non-drowsy cold and flu medication can help with a stuffy nose at night.

But you should avoid non-drowsy products containing caffeine before bed.

Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals, and you should always seek advice from your GP before making decisions about medication.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep your throat moistened. 💦

woman drinking tea
A warm non-caffeinated drink before bed can help with flu symptoms.

A warm tea, particularly with lemon or honey, or a herbal tea (such as peppermint or chamomile) can soothe a sore throat and ease cold symptoms. 🫖

Gurgling salt water is also a great way to relieve throat pain and reduce nasal congestion.

Use a saline rinse

Clear your nasal passages with saline sprays or homemade solutions.

Mix iodide-free salt and baking soda, then add it to lukewarm boiled water.

Use a bulb syringe to gently squirt the solution into one nostril while holding the other closed. 💉

You could also use a neti pot to thin and flush out mucus.

Take a hot shower or facial steam

Steam from a hot shower can thin mucus in your sinuses.

Man having a shower
A steamy shower can relieve the symptoms of a nose blocked at night.

Alternatively, you can inhale steam from a bowl of boiling water with a towel draped over your head for five minutes. 🧖

Take deep breaths and keep a safe distance from the water.

Eat spicy food

Spicy meals with chilli peppers, wasabi, or horseradish can open nasal passages, ease sinus pain, and release blocked mucu from a stuffy nose at night.🌶️

How to sleep with a blocked nose

You should feel some relief from a stuffy nose using the above suggestions.

But the following tips can help lessen the symptoms of a blocked nose during sleep:

Prop up your head

Elevate your head with an extra pillow or use a V-shaped pillow.

man using a v pillow
Elevating the head during sleep can relieve the symptoms of a cold or cough.

This will help drain mucus and relieve sinus pressure. 🎢

Use nasal spray/strips

Nasal strips and sprays open your nasal passages and shrink the blood vessels in your nose, improving nasal congestion and making breathing easier at night. 🌬️

Nasal strips have also been known to help with symptoms of snoring.

If snoring is a problem in the bedroom, dive into our guide on the best anti-snoring pillows.

Sleep on your back

The best position to sleep with a blocked nose is on your back, with your head elevated to help drain mucus effectively.

Man sleeping on back
Sleeping on your back is the best sleeping position for a blocked nose in bed.

Back sleeping is also considered the healthiest sleeping position that puts the least pressure on your spine and joints. 🛌

Use a humidifier

Dry air can exacerbate your throat and nasal passages, worsening your blocked nose when sleeping. 🤧

woman coughing
Dry air can worsen the symptoms of a blocked nose.

Consider using a humidifier in your bedroom to add much-needed moisture to the air and alleviate irritation.

Use a menthol chest rub

The menthol odour tricks your brain into thinking your nose is unclogged, and the menthol can make nighttime breathing easier.

When should you see a doctor?

While a blocked nose can be a frustrating hindrance to a good night's sleep, there are numerous methods you can try to alleviate the discomfort.

However, it's important to consult a doctor for any of the following:

  • Your symptoms persist for more than 10 days
  • You have a high fever
  • You have green or yellow mucus
  • You are experiencing facial pain
  • Your mucus contains blood

Severe and ongoing symptoms of a blocked nose could be a sign of a more serious illness, such as a sinus infection.

A bad sinus infection could even lead to a ruptured eardrum (especially in younger children).

For children, seek medical advice if their symptoms don't improve or if babies experience breathing difficulties.

Remember, your health and well-being come first, so don't hesitate to contact a healthcare professional when in doubt. 👩‍⚕️

So, can you sleep with a blocked nose at night?

Dealing with a blocked nose during sleep can be challenging, but it's not an insurmountable obstacle. 😅

The 10 tips we've outlined in this article, from adjusting your sleeping position to using a humidifier, are effective ways to help you sleep better with a blocked nose.

Ultimately, taking care of your health should always be your top priority, and a good night's sleep plays a key role in that.

Not feeling your best?

Take a look at our favourite comfort items for a pick-me-up:

Frequently asked questions

  • Is it dangerous to sleep with a blocked nose?

    Sleeping with a blocked nose is not dangerous but can disrupt your sleep.

    Use our above tips to help alleviate the symptoms of a blocked nose at night.

  • Which side to sleep on with a blocked nose?

    The best sleeping position for a blocked nose is on your back, with a couple of pillows to prop you up.

    This will help to drain mucus and clear a blockage.

  • Why do I have a blocked nose at night only?

     A blocked nose can feel worse at night for many reasons. 

    Our bodies are horizontal at night, which can prevent mucus from draining.

    Propping yourself up on a couple of pillows and laying on your back will help drain mucus more effectively when sleeping. 

    If allergies cause your blocked nose, you should ensure the bedroom is dust-mite-free and that no allergens (such as pet dander) in the room contribute to more stuffiness.

    Additionally, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, keep the windows closed at night to prevent your contact with pollen. 

    Scroll to the top of the article to get even more tips on dealing with a blocked nose at night.

  • How to unclog your nose instantly

    Looking for a fast solution on how to unclog your nose at night?

    You can unclog your nose instantly by following the tips in this video:

    If those methods don’t help, try the tips in our article to help alleviate the symptoms of a blocked nose at night.

    Combining these tips will help drain mucus and clear the nasal cavity, so you should feel better in no time.

  • References


Holly Matthews

Senior Content Writer

Holly has been a content writer at Sleep Hero UK since 2021. With an MA degree in literature and previous experience working at a leading UK bed retailer, she is committed to using her skills to guide others towards making better sleep choices.

Was this article helpful?
Please fill out

Great! Do you have any questions or feedback? We'd love to hear from you.

What would have made it better?

You may also be interested in:

    Yes, please!
    No, thank you. Take me to the UK site.

    We have an affiliate relationship with some manufacturers, where we receive a commission on sales if you click over from our site. This does not affect the purchasing price. In contrast: By using our discount codes, you'll get the best deal possible.