Skip Nav

Why Is a Cough Worse at Night

There's a Reason Why Your Cough Feels So Much Worse at Night

One of the most important aspects of recovering from a cold is rest. Your body desperately needs rest in order to give your immune system time to recharge while fighting the infection. While this may be true, it's a little hard to put into practice when every time you lay down to get some shuteye, you find yourself coughing up a storm that leaves you awake for most of the night.

If you've been wondering why you're stuck in a sleepless catch-22 all cold and flu season, you can wonder no more because we got to the bottom of it, with the help of Clinical Director of London Doctors Clinic, Dr. Preethi Daniel.

Why is your cough worse at night?

According to Dr. Preethi, it's not all down to your imagination, the medical reason behind your cold being worse as soon as you fall asleep is simply down to gravity, saying, "when we lie down, mucus begins to pool and drip down the throat and tickle nerves that trigger coughs."

ADVERTISEMENT

It also doesn't help that the air is drier at night, she explains, "Drier air due to radiators doesn't help. Paradoxically, our airways and mucus membranes work harder to keep everything moist when there is dry air at night. More mucus production when you have a cough and cold means more congestion, more post-nasal dripping, and more cough."

What can you do to avoid it?

While you might not be able to completely get rid of your nighttime cough, there are ways to lessen how much it affects your sleep. Dr. Preethi suggests the following tips: "prop your pillow up a little, steamy bath or shower before bed, decongestant nasal spray, or good old Vicks rubbed on your chest will help. Olbas oil drops on a damp towel on the radiator is a good cheap alternative to an expensive humidifier — which, of course, is also a recommendation. Menthol cough lozenges or syrups work well at night for temporary relief and if you get the drowsy kind, it will help you get better sleep."

Latest Health & Fitness