How to Stop Coughing at Night
Coughing at night can be annoying for your bed mate, and keep you up at night. Some nighttime coughs can be a sign of other respiratory issues like a cold, bronchitis, whooping cough, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, asthma, or GERD. If your cough doesn’t improve at night after a week or so, see your doctor. Most nighttime coughs are a symptom of allergies or congested airways, and can get better with the right remedy.
Method 1: Adjusting Your Sleep Habits
Sleep on an incline. Prop yourself on pillows before you go to sleep and try to sleep on more than one pillow. This will prevent all the postnasal drainage and mucus you swallow during the day from backing up in your throat when you lay down at night.
- You can also place wooden blocks under the head of your bed to raise it by 4 inches. This angle will help to keep acids down in your stomach so they won’t irritate your throat.
- If possible, avoid sleeping on your back as this can put strain on your breathing at night and cause you to cough.
- Sleeping on an incline with increased number of pillow is the best way to cure a cough from congestive heart failure (CHF) at night. The water collects in the lower lung fields and does not affect breathing.
2 Have a hot shower or bath before bed. Dry airways can make your coughing worse at night. So, immerse yourself in a steamy bathroom and soak up some moisture before bed.
- If you have asthma, steam can make your cough worse. Do not try this remedy if you have asthma.
3 Avoid sleeping under a fan, heater, or air conditioner. Cold air blowing on your face at night will only make your coughing worse. Move your bed so it is not under an air conditioner or heater. If you keep a fan on in your room at night, move it to a spot opposite of your bed.
4 Place a humidifier in your bedroom. Humidifiers can help keep the air moist, rather than dry, in your room. The steam opens airways and allows for better air flow. This moisture will help to keep your airways moist and less prone to coughing.
- Keep the humidity levels at 40% to 50%, as dust mites and mold thrive in damp air. To measure humidity in your bedroom, pick up a hygrometer at your local hardware store.
5 Wash your bedding at least once a week. If you have a persistent night cough and are prone to allergies, keep your bedding clean. Dust mites, tiny creatures that eat dead flakes of skin, live in bedding and are a common allergy trigger. If you have an allergy or asthma you may be at risk for dust mites. Make sure to wash you sheets and try using sheet covers for the bed.
- Wash all your bedding, from your sheets and pillowcases to your duvet cover, in hot water once a week.
- You can also wrap your mattress in plastic to keep dust mites away and your bedding clean.
6 Keep a glass of water on your bedside table. This way, if you wake up with a coughing fit during the night, you can clear your throat with a long sip of water.
7 Try to breath through your nose when you sleep. IBefore you go to sleep, think of the proverb: “The nose is for breathing, the mouth is for eating.” Train yourself to breath through your nose as you sleep by doing several rounds of conscious nose breathing. This will put less stress on your throat and hopefully lead to less coughing at night.
- Sit up straight in a comfortable position.
- Relax your upper body and close your mouth. Rest your tongue behind your bottom teeth, away from the top of your mouth.
- Place your hands on your diaphragm, or your lower belly area. You should try to breath from your diaphragm, rather than from your chest area. Breathing from your diaphragm is important because it helps your lungs with gas exchange and it massages your liver, stomach and intestines, working the toxins out of these organs. It will also relax your upper body.
- Take a deep breath in with your nose and inhale for 2-3 seconds.
- Exhale through your nose for 3-4 seconds. Pause for 2-3 seconds and breathe in again through your nose.
- Practice breathing like this through your nose for several rounds of breaths. Extending your inhales and exhales will help your body get used to breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth.
Method 2: Using Professional Remedies
1 Take over the counter cough medicine. ver-the-counter cough medicine can help in two ways:
- An expectorant, like Mucinex DM, helps to loosen mucus and phlegm in your throat and airways.
- A cough suppressant, like Delsym, blocks your body’s cough reflex and reduces your body’s urge to cough.
- You can also take basic cough syrup, or apply Vick’s Vapor Rub on your chest before bed. Both medicines are known to help reduce coughing at night.
- Read the label of the medicine before you use it. Ask your pharmacist if you are not sure which type of over-the-counter cough medicine is right for your cough.
2 Use cough lozenges. Some cough drops use a numbing ingredient, like benzocaine, which can help to calm down your cough long enough to help you fall asleep.
3 Talk to your doctor if your cough does not go away after 7 days. If your nighttime cough gets worse after several treatments or remedies or after 7 days, see your doctor. Causes of a cough at night include asthma, the common cold, GERD, taking ACE inhibitors, a viral syndrome, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis, or cancer. If you have a high fever and a chronic night cough, see your doctor as soon as possible.
- The evaluation of a chronic cough begins with a good history and physical. The doctor may want to order a chest x-ray to see if there is underlying pathology. Other tests for GERD and Asthma may be necessary.
- Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe a decongestant, or a more serious medical treatment. Cheratussin with Codeine is the most commonly prescribed cough suppressant. If you already have a more serious medical issue that causes you to cough at night, such as asthma or persistent colds, talk to your doctor about specific medication you can take to treat this symptom. Dextromethorphan, morphine, guaifenesin, and gabapentin may be prescribed.
- Talk to your doctor if you are taking an ACE Inhibitor, since coughing can be a side effect.
- Some coughs, especially if they are persistent and chronic, can be a symptom of a more serious illness, like heart disease and lung cancer. However, these diseases usually also come with other more pronounced symptoms, like coughing up blood or a history of existing heart problems.
Method 3: Using Natural Remedies
1 Have a spoonful of honey before bed. Honey is a great natural remedy for an irritated throat, as it coats and soothes the mucous membranes in your throat. Honey also has antibacterial properties, thanks to an enzyme added by bees. So if your cough is due to a bacterial illness, honey can help to fight off bad bacteria.
- Take 1 tablespoon of organic, raw honey 1-3 times a day and before bed. You can also dissolve honey in a cup of hot water with lemon and drink it before bed.
- For children, give them 1 teaspoon of honey 1-3 times a day and before bed.
- You should never give children under the age of 2 years honey due to the risk of botulism, a bacterial infection.
2 Drink licorice root tea. Licorice root is a natural decongestant. It soothes your airways and loosens mucus in your throat. It also soothes any inflammation in your throat.
- Look for dried licorice root at your local health food store. You can also buy licorice root in tea bags in the tea aisle of most grocery stores.
- Steep the licorice root in hot water for 10-15 minutes, or as specified on the tea bags. Cover the tea as it steeps to trap in the steam and oils from the tea. Drink the tea 1-2 times a day and before bed.
- If you are on steroids or have problems with your kidneys, do not consume licorice root.
3 Gargle salt water. Salt water can ease discomfort in your throat and clear out any mucus. If you are congested and have a cough, gargling salt water can help to dislodge any phlegm in your throat.
- Stir 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water until it is dissolved.
- Gargle the salt water for 15 seconds, being careful not to swallow any of the salt water.
- Spit the water out in the sink and gargle again with the remaining salt water.
- Rinse your mouth with plain water once you are done gargling.
4 Steam your face with water and natural oils. Steam is a great way to absorb moisture through your nasal passages and prevent a dry cough. Adding essential oils like tea tree oil and eucalyptus oils also gives you anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Boil enough water to fill a medium sized heat proof bowl. Pour the water into the bowl and let it cool for 30-60 seconds.
- Add three drops of tea tree oil and 1-2 drops of eucalyptus oil to the bowl of water. Give the water a quick stir to release the vapors.
- Lean your head over the bowl and try to get as close to the steam as possible. Not too close though, as steam can burn your skin. Place a clean towel over your head, like a tent, to trap the steam. Breath in deeply for 5-10 minutes. Try to steam with essential oils 2-3 times a day.
- You can also rub essential oils on your chest or your child’s chest to prevent coughing at night. Always mix essential oils in organic olive oil before applying it to your skin, as essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin. An essential oil chest rub will work as well as Vick’s Vapor Rub but will be free of petrochemicals and all natural. For children younger than 10, check the label on the essential oils for safety notes or warnings.
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