1. Make a few adjustments to your sleeping position
Are you a side sleeper? Even though sleeping on your side is considered the best sleeping position for spine health, doctors recommend switching things up when you have a runny nose. Rather than sleep on your side, which can block one or both of your nostrils, try sleeping on your back when you've got the sniffles. This way, all the congestion will be able to run down instead of clogging up your sinuses and airways.
To facilitate mucus drainage even further and prevent that feeling of pressure in the sinuses at night, it’s a good idea to prop up your head with a few pillows.
2. Keep these diet tips in mind
When you’re sick and your nose is stuffy, it’s key to work with your body instead of hindering the recovery process. Rule number one of remedying a stuffy nose (and getting over a cold, in general) is to stay hydrated. The extra water will help loosen up the mucus and make it easier for you to breathe. When you’re sick, doctors recommend drinking no less than 11.5 cups of liquid for women and 15.5 cups for men every day.
If you have a fever, or experience vomiting or diarrhea, you should drink even more. Now, remember that any drink or liquid food counts. Herbal teas with honey and chicken soup are well-known cold remedies for good reason. The reason why tea and soup are helpful for a stuffy nose is that they are both hydrating and nutritious. The vitamins and antioxidants present in tea, chicken broth, and honey have proven anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects.
At the same time, doctors advise against drinking dehydrating drinks like alcohol and coffee when you’re sick, especially after 2 PM, as these beverages have the opposite effect.
One last food tip - If you enjoy spicy food, consider eating some when your nose is stuffy. Spicy foods contain capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers spicy. Apart from having a variety of health benefits, capsaicin has temporary decongestant properties, so it will help clear your nose, even if only for a short time.
3. Keep air humidity high
When you have a stuffy nose, moist air is your friend. The reasoning behind it is identical to why you should drink more - moist air makes mucus runnier, which will prevent it from blocking your nose. There are few ways you can increase air humidity and achieve much-needed relief before sleep:
- The most straightforward method is using an air humidifier in your bedroom or hanging a damp towel near a heater in the bedroom.
- Alternatively, you can take a hot shower before bed. While you’re in the shower, massage your sinuses to promote drainage.
- Lastly, you can place a warm towel on your forehead or sinuses before bedtime.
4. Use nasal strips
Nasal strips are small sticky strips that you attach to the bridge of the nose before bedtime. These strips slightly pull the nostrils out, helping you open the nasal passages. Nasal strips are usually used to prevent snoring, but they can also improve breathing when you’ve got the sniffles. You can easily find these strips at most pharmacies.
5. Don’t forget about medications and home remedies
Even if you prefer not to take medications during the day because it makes you drowsy, consider doing so before bed. Apart from the obvious flu medicine, or decongestant sprays and corticosteroid sprays that work topically to relieve nasal congestion, consider taking antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Claritin (loratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine), and Zyrtec (cetirizine).
Histamine is a hormone that triggers an allergic reaction, and antihistamines are drugs that block the effects of histamine. As a result, you will experience less sneezing, swelling, congestion, and pressure in the sinuses after taking antihistamines. Many antihistamines are available over-the-counter. Note: any medication can interfere with other medications and may not be advised if you have certain health conditions, so it’s always important that you consult a doctor before taking any new medication.
Apart from medications, you can also apply a menthol chest rub before sleep. You can even make one at home by mixing a tablespoon of neutral oil with a few drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, or tea tree oil.
Lastly, you can use a saline rinse spray or neti pot to clear the sinuses. Saline solutions are not only drug-free and carry no risk of addiction, but they are also easy to make at home: distill 1 cup of water by using a distiller or boiling for 10 minutes and then cooling it, add ½ teaspoon salt, and you’ve got a saline solution. You can use this solution as many times a day as you need.
6. Keep pets out of the bedroom
If you suspect that your stuffy nose is caused by allergies, it may be due to pet dander. Even minor pet allergies often manifest through itchy eyes and a stuffy nose, so it’s a good idea to keep your pets out of the bedroom to reduce your symptoms. Likewise, it’s important to switch out bedlinens more often - about once a week - and wipe down your couch regularly to prevent pet dander from accumulating on textiles and irritating your nose.
7. Keep supplies within arm’s reach
Lastly, we’d like to stress the importance of having things like tissues, water, and nasal sprays close at hand at night. Oftentimes, one’s sleep is interrupted not by the nasal congestion itself, but by the action of having to get up from bed and search for the items you need in the middle of the night.
So take the time to gather all the supplies you need, such as a box of tissues, medications, water, and a wastebasket, and within arm’s reach to save yourself the effort of getting out of bed. This way, even if you do wake up, it will be less stressful and you’ll be more likely to fall asleep quicker, too.
Please share these tips with others!