Coughing is a normal function meant to clear the lungs of irritants or germs to prevent infection and is also a necessary means of getting rid of excess mucus.
The occasional cough happening during the day we rarely think much of it. But excessive coughing when you’re trying to sleep is another story. Coughing and hacking away in the middle of the night not only disrupts sleep but prevents getting a good night’s sleep.
What’s a person to do who is experiencing nighttime coughing? Here are several approaches one can try to quiet a nighttime coughing spell:
1. Reduce allergens
One of the first steps is to reduce exposure of what is causing irritation to begin with. There’s a good chance a nighttime cough is being triggered by an allergy. Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to substances causing sneezing, stuffiness, and coughing. The allergen could be pet dander, mold, dust, or some other substance.
When a person is having difficulty with nighttime coughing but not so much at other times of the day, there is most likely something in the bedroom triggering the reaction. To decrease allergy related coughing in the bedroom try the following:
· Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter weekly to remove dust
· Remove from the bedroom magnets for dust such as magazines, books, and trinkets
· Wash bedding in hot water once a week
· Shower before going to bed to get rid of outdoor allergens like pollen
2. Drink tea with honey
To soothe an irritated throat, try drinking hot tea with honey. This can help loosen up mucus while thinning out any buildup.
3. Use a humidifier in the bedroom
Sleeping in a room with dry air will make a cough worse. No matter what time of the year, air conditioning and heating systems can make the environment dry.
Humidifiers add moisture to the air which can be very helpful in soothing the throat preventing coughing. But be careful not to get too much moisture in the air as this can promote mold growth which is an allergen.
4. Elevate your head
For some people, coughing becomes worse at night because they are lying flat in bed. This can lead to mucus pooling in the back of the throat causing coughing.
To prevent this, elevate the head by propping up pillows. This change in sleep position allows mucus to flow decreasing postnasal drip without causing coughing.
5. Try a saline nasal spray
The excess mucus accumulating in the back of the throat requires something to dry and thin it out while washing away irritants and allergens from the nose. A saline nasal spray containing salt and water can be a good method for taming a nighttime cough.
6. Don’t smoke
Smokers know all too well that a major cause of nighttime coughing is their addiction to cigarettes. Quitting smoking will help reduce coughing over time in addition to reducing risk of serious health conditions.
7. Use menthol or honey lozenges before bedtime
Try sucking on lozenges before bed providing moisture to the throat helping thin out mucus.
8. Use an over-the-counter cough suppressant
There are several different types of cough medicines that can help suppress a nighttime cough. Most work by blocking your reflex to cough, clearing a stuffy nose or to stop sneezing and a runny nose. Be aware that cough suppressants can make some people drowsy so they are best taken at night before bedtime.