Waking Up with a Stuffy Nose? Here's What You Should Try

Everyone wants a fresh start to their day, but a stuffy nose first thing in the morning can make that difficult.

If you wake up feeling stuffy, there are some things you can try to open up your airways, clear congestion and breathe better.  

Read more to learn about why this can happen and to check out our suggestions to get rid of it.


What Causes A Stuffy Nose While You’re Sleeping?  

stuffy nose while asleep

Whenever you catch a stuffy nose, it often feels the worst when you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed. Sometimes, just laying your head down can make your nose feel more congested – why is this? 

First of all, you aren’t crazy. It is extremely common for nasal congestion to get worse when you go to bed. The main reason is simple– when you lay down, your nasal passages can become inflamed, making it harder to breathe nasally.

This happens because the normal sleeping position will cause your body to increase blood flow to the brain and nose. Unfortunately, most people don’t sleep standing upright, so this inflammation is harder to avoid.

When you are standing upright, your body naturally drains mucus from the sinuses, but when you lay down it becomes much more difficult. This can build up congestion, especially when you are experiencing cold or allergy symptoms.

Surprisingly, studies also show that patients with acid reflux can experience worse congestion when lying down. This can happen due to a flow of stomach acid towards nasal passageways that occurs when laying down.


Potential Remedies to Help Clear Up Nasal Congestion to Prevent Waking Up with a Stuffy Nose

clear congestion

Nobody likes to wake up feeling stuffy, so if there are ways to prevent late-night congestion, it may be worth trying. We wanted to share some potential remedies for you to try to help prevent waking up with a stuffy nose.

Elevate Your Pillows

Laying down has many effects that will worsen congestion, so if you don’t want to sleep standing up, elevating your head may be an easier solution. You can do this by stacking on an extra pillow before bed. This will allow you to sleep with your head propped up, which can promote the draining of mucus in the nasal passageways. Sleeping with your head elevated can also work to relieve the pressure on your sinuses.

Avoid Caffeine & Alcohol Past Noon

Drinking caffeine and/or alcohol can increase your symptoms and make it harder to get a good night's sleep. Both of these can also dehydrate you, which will make it harder for your sinuses to flow well. Instead of drinking alcohol or coffee, try drinking hot (non-caffeinated) tea before bedtime to hydrate. Hydrating will help thin the mucus in your passageways so you can breathe better.

Essential Oil Remedies

Over the years, plenty of research has shown the beneficial effects of essential oil inhalation and aromatherapy. Studies show that essential oils can improve sleep and respiratory issues. We recommend trying a nasal inhaler to open your nasal passages naturally, so you can breathe better at night.

Clear Allergens In Your Space

If you are sleeping in an environment surrounded by allergens, it can trigger inflammation and lead to a stuffy nose, especially at night. Before bed, try to clear your room of allergens by cleaning, vacuuming carpets, washing your linens, and eliminating any other potential allergens.

 In addition, try some of these strategies:

  • Buy an allergen cover for your mattress to separate yourself from any triggering materials, as well as things like dust mites and mold.
  • Shower at night to eliminate any pollen or allergens that may have traveled inside with you from the outdoors.
  • Reduce pet dander in your room by placing your pet’s bed outside.
  • Tobacco smoke may also inflame your nose - if you do smoke, smoke outside and away from any windows or doors.

Use A Humidifier

Humidifiers can help make it easier for you to breathe at night, by adding moisture to the air. When you are breathing in dry air, it can worsen symptoms and irritate your nasal airways (causing inflammation or congestion). Sleeping with a humidifier ensures that you have some moisture in the air to avoid further irritation. 

Tip: Make sure to buy one with a certified hepa filter.


Tips To Improve Your Nasal Breathing

improve nasal breathing

If you hate feeling stuffed up, you can greatly benefit from learning how to improve your nasal breathing. There are many different ways to improve, so we wanted to share some of our top tips.

1. Practice Nasal Breathing Techniques

When you practice deep breathing techniques through the nose, it can improve your body’s function and allow an easier transition to more natural nasal breathing.  

It’s helpful to practice nasal breathing patterns before bed, in the morning, or during exercise. Start by practicing this exercise, called alternate nostril breathing: 

This exercise is common in Yoga classes - you might hear it identified in Sanskrit as nadi shodhana pranayama. To engage in this practice, start by positioning yourself in a seated position with your back straight. Maintain this tall posture throughout the breathing exercise

Once you’re seated, relax your shoulders, relax your neck, and relax your tongue. Place your left hand on your left knee, and press your right thumb onto your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril, hold your breath, and then move your ring finger and right pinky to your left nostril. (You may also hold your right pointer finger and middle finger between your eyebrows during this practice.)

Exhale your breath through the right nostril, then inhale through your right nostril to repeat the exercise.

2. De-Stress Your System

Reducing your stress levels can help you transition your breathing pattern to a calmer, slower rhythm which will make it easier to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.

Take a moment to de-stress right now: lower your shoulders, relax your jaws, and release the tongue from the roof of your mouth. Inhale a slow, deep breath in and out of your nose. You feel better already, don’t you?

3. Regular Exercise

Studies have shown that getting regular exercise while practicing nasal breathing can help you stop mouth breathing. Research shows that patients with asthma have shown improvement in their breathing techniques as a result of regular exercise.  

When you force your body to breathe nasally, especially during exercise, it can train your body to work harder to obtain oxygen. The more you practice this, it will improve your ability to breathe nasally.

Nobody remembers how uncomfortable having a stuffy nose is until they have one. That’s why it is always best to be prepared and kn
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