Updated at: 09-08-2022 - By: Jane

It is estimated that up to 30 million doctor’s appointments are made each year to treat coughing. The common cold and flu both have coughing as a symptom, thus many people may not seek medical attention if they experience coughing. As a result of a cough, you may find it difficult to fall asleep. The good news is that there are steps you can do to improve your quality of sleep.

Why Do I Cough More at Night When I’m Sick?

A nocturnal cough can occur for a variety of reasons, but the most common is a cold or the flu. Coughing is a defense mechanism used to clear the lungs, voice box, and windpipe of foreign matter. Regardless of the time of day or night, coughing serves the same purpose.

A postnasal drip can cause your cough to get worse at night if you’re unwell. Secretions that do not leave the nose trickle down the back of the throat and are referred to as “postnasal drip.” Colds, flu, allergies, and sinus infections are all common causes of this ailment. Postnasal drip can be exacerbated by lying on your back, which could explain why you’re coughing more at night.

Can't sleep at night, what to do? | Vinmec

The inability to sleep at night might be made all the more difficult by a persistent cough. Your issue will most likely be resolved if you can get rid of your cough. In the event that a cough refuses to go away, there are actions you can do, including as keeping your breathing passages wet, elevating your head, and creating an ideal sleep environment, that can help you overcome the hacking and enjoy some restful sleep.

Can You Sleep Off a Cold?

There is no treatment for the common cold, but doctors urge getting plenty of rest while you’re getting better. Because sleep and the immune system are intertwined, getting enough of both helps the body repair. Sleep has been shown to have a positive influence on the body’s hormones and the inflammatory response, according to studies.

Preventing the common cold by getting enough sleep before being ill may be your best bet. It is recommended that individuals need at least seven hours of sleep per night in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When it comes to the common cold, persons who don’t get enough sleep before to exposure are more likely to develop symptoms than those who get enough sleep. People who sleep less than five hours a night are twice as likely to develop symptoms as those who sleep seven or more hours a night, according to research. A cold is three times more likely to develop in people who sleep less than seven hours a night than those who sleep at least eight hours.

How Does a Cold Affect Your Sleep?

Sleeping more than usual during a cold is reported by 40% of people, yet it is typical to have difficulty sleeping when you have a cold. According to a survey performed in multiple nations, 46% of respondents said that a cold or the flu interferes with their ability to get a decent night’s sleep. 94% of those who were ill with the cold or flu said that their symptoms kept them awake at night.

Coughing is the most common cold symptom that wakes people up at night, but other symptoms like aches and pains, a sore throat, a runny nose, and the need to sneeze can all keep you up. Fever dreams are common in those who are sick with a fever. It’s possible that having these disturbing, pessimistic nightmares will make it more difficult to sleep while you’re sick.

How to Sleep With a Cough or Cold

It is possible that your symptoms will return, but there are some practices that can aid in your recovery and allow you to get a good night’s rest. In the event that your cough is exacerbated by a condition such as asthma or seasonal allergies, you may need to address these conditions as well.

Hydrating Your Breathing Passages

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1. Drink water during the day to stay hydrated at night.

Coughing becomes more frequent and/or more intense when the airways in the lungs are dry. Keeping your throat and nasal tissues wet at night is made easier by drinking water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated.

  • If you’re suffering from a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, it’s especially important to stay hydrated.
  • To avoid having to get out of bed to use the restroom, drink small amounts of water throughout the day rather than a big one or two glasses just before bed.
  • You can speed up your recovery time by drinking hot or warm water to help hydrate your body and loosen up any mucus in your lungs.

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2. Take a steamy shower or bath to wind down at the end of the day.

Your breathing passageways can be opened and moistened with the aid of steam. As a result, you’ll be able to sleep more soundly and cough less regularly.

  • Taking a warm bath or shower before bedtime can be a relaxing habit that helps your body prepare for sleep. Let your body know it’s time to sleep by making it a part of your nighttime routine! The problem with steam is that it might worsen an asthmatic’s cough!

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3. Enjoy hot tea with honey before bedtime.

Steam from a hot cup of tea can help lubricate, expand, and relax your airways, just like a hot bath or shower. Caffeine might make it difficult to drift off to sleep, so opt for a herbal or decaf tea instead.

  • Before going to sleep, having a cup of tea might help you relax your mind and body.
  • Because of its antibacterial characteristics and soothing effect on the respiratory tract, honey may prove to be an effective treatment option.

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4. Turn on a humidifier in your bedroom.

As you breathe in via your nose and throat, the humidifier hydrates your nasal and throat tissues. You’ll probably have an easier time sleeping if the air is more humid, even if you don’t cough.

  • A sleep environment with a relative humidity of 50 percent or higher is appropriate for the majority of people. You’re more likely to require a humidifier in the dead of winter than in the sweltering heat of summer.
  • To avoid the growth of bacteria, make sure that your humidifier is cleaned thoroughly and on a regular basis. Instead of helping with the cough, it could actually make it worse!

Improving Your Sleep Environmen

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1. Prop your head up under more pillows to aid mucus drainage.

At order to clear the airway, you cough because you feel a “tickle” in the back of your throat, which is caused by mucus. By elevating your head higher than usual, you can encourage more mucus to drain into your stomach as opposed to your throat.

  • Instead of sleeping with your neck bent at an unnatural angle, use a stack of pillows to support your upper body and neck as well. In order to avoid the dreaded stiff neck and cough, it’s best to avoid sleeping on your back.

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2. Make sure your room is comfortable for sleeping.

You’ll be able to sleep better even if you’re coughing, so make your bedroom a relaxing haven for rest. Blinds and drapes should be used to keep the room dark, the temperature should be set so that it’s comfortable, the mattress and pillow should be comfortable, and any distracting noises should be removed or blocked.

  • Temperatures of 60–65 °F (16–18 °C) are considered suitable for sleeping by most people.

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3. Set a normal sleep routine, and stick to it when you have a cough.

Your body responds well to a consistent bedtime pattern, which helps you overcome the disruption of a persistent cough. Maintaining a consistent sleep regimen, such as taking a warm bath, drinking tea, reading, and going to bed at the same time each night will help you get a good night’s rest.

  • At least an hour before going to bed, you should refrain from using your phone or reading your email, and you should avoid coffee and strenuous exercise for several hours.

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4. Lie in bed and use relaxation techniques to fall asleep.

Close your eyes and begin to inhale and exhale deeply and gently. Pay attention to each inhalation and exhalation. Try picturing a relaxing image that provides you peace and tranquility if you need additional aid These approaches can help you fall asleep in 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Coughing might disrupt your deep breathing and make it difficult to keep your attention on the task at hand.. Despite the coughing, do your best to retain your calm.
  • Get up short and try again if you’re still awake after 15 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, you may want to consider using a different strategy.
  • Get into a meditative state by following a sleep meditation.

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5. Get up, do something relaxing, and try to fall asleep again.

If you’re unable to sleep because of a cough, it’s normally best to get out of bed for a few minutes and continue the process. Start your day with a cup of herbal tea sweetened with honey and 15-30 minutes of quiet reflection or listening to mellow music. Next, try crawling back into bed to see if you can go off to sleep.

  • Begin your sleep process by allowing yourself 30 minutes. Get up for a few seconds and try again if you can’t get up. Your body will eventually give up, and you’ll drift off to sleep!

Suppressing and Treating Your Cough

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1. Take a spoonful of honey before bedtime.

It’s becoming more and more popular knowledge that honey may be used to treat coughs just as effectively as conventional over-the-counter drugs. Even if you’ve already had honey in your nighttime herbal tea, try swallowing roughly 2 tsp (10 g) of honey before you go to sleep.

  • Because of its antibacterial qualities and soothing effect on irritated respiratory passages, honey is a good choice as a topical antibiotic.
  • Cough suppressant drugs should not be given to children under the age of five, however honey appears to be particularly effective in this age group. As a precaution against botulism, children under the age of one should not be given honey.
  • For a similar effect, try sucking on a cough drop just before going to bed.

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2. Try cough or cold medications that specifically match your symptoms.

Taking a cough suppressant drug, for example, would be appropriate if your symptoms were limited to a cough. If you don’t have a specific ailment, don’t take medication for it.

  • Antitussives (cough suppressants), such as dextromethorphan (Robitussin, for example), and expectorants (to aid clear mucus), such as guaifenesin, are the most common over-the-counter cough treatments (Mucinex, for example).
  • When it comes to cough medicines, antitussives, fever reducers and analgesics are all common constituents. Find a drug that addresses all of your symptoms.
  • Not everyone can safely take over-the-counter drugs. The use of phenylephrine-containing oral decongestants should be avoided by people with high blood pressure, for example. You should always check your doctor or pharmacist before taking or utilizing any type of medication.
  • Please follow the instructions on the prescription label or the advice of your healthcare provider when taking this drug.

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3. Get checked for sleep apnea if you have a persistent nighttime cough.

Coughs that linger for more than two weeks should be discussed with your physician. If your chronic cough worsens at night and is interfering with your rest, you may want to consider getting tested for sleep apnea.

  • Breathing stops for small periods of time during sleep for those who suffer from sleep apnea. Treatments such as CPAP masks while sleeping can be extremely beneficial in the treatment of this illness.
  • In addition, the use of a CPAP mask can reduce nighttime coughing that is linked to sleep apnea, as well.
  • If you’re being tested for sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend that you have a sleep study performed.

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4. Tell your doctor if your cough has caused a fear of sleeping.

Suffocation can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night if your cough is very persistent and mucus-heavy. The fear of falling asleep that results from this can motivate some people to take extreme measures to keep themselves awake at night. If your nightly cough is affecting you in this way, contact your doctor immediately.

  • When a nighttime cough is accompanied by a fear of falling asleep, it may be an indication of a condition like whooping cough that might otherwise go unnoticed.

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