Everyone gets a cough now and then, and sometimes people cough more at night than during the day.
This cough is called a nocturnal cough, and it is very common among asthmatics, and when this happens, it can become very difficult to sleep.
Why do you cough more at night?
According to the Sleep Foundation, coughing generally performs the same function whether it occurs at night or during the day, to remove mucus and foreign bodies from the windpipe, voice box and lungs.
“When you are sick, your cough may be exacerbated at night by postnasal drip,” the site adds.
Postnasal drip refers to secretions that run down the back of the throat instead of out of the nose.
“This condition often accompanies colds, as well as influenza, allergies, and sinus infections,” the foundation explains.
Sleep experts have pointed out that lying on your back can worsen postnasal drip, which may be why you notice a worse cough at night.
The cough usually goes away on its own within three to four weeks, but one of the things that speeds recovery is getting plenty of rest.
And if your cough is caused by a cold or flu rather than smoking, heartburn or allergies, you’ll need to get enough sleep to help you recover.
Sleep is closely related to the immune system, and sleep promotes healing and improves immunity, so it is an essential part of overcoming a cough.
So what do you do if you’re struggling to fall asleep with a cough?
There are four ways to get a better night’s sleep with a nighttime cough:
Honey can help prevent respiratory infections such as a cold that may cause a cough.
Honey is antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial and can reduce the number and intensity of nighttime coughs.
This makes honey an ideal bedtime drink when suffering from a cough. And honey may work better than cough medicine because cough medicine can actually prevent a cough and make it harder for you to recover from your illness.
The same is true for nasal decongestants, which can also cause insomnia and lead to horrific side effects such as headaches, nausea and dizziness.
Drinking hot liquids such as hot tea or chicken soup can reduce nasal congestion and help you breathe easier.
A 2008 study found that consuming a hot drink or beverage at room temperature can improve coughing, runny nose and sneezing, but the hot drink makes you feel less cold and tired and soothes a sore throat.
So sip on a hot cup or sip on hot soup in the evening if you’re worried about coughing in bed, as it can help you feel better and improve your sleep.
Raise your head and neck:
Postnasal drip increases if you lie flat due to gravity, so supporting your head and neck with pillows may help manage this condition.
The Sleep Foundation recommends using a wedge pillow or multiple bed pillows to keep you comfortable while lying in a position that keeps your head above the rest of your body.
Some studies suggest that higher humidity levels may help clear your nasal passages if your room is too dry.
Apply a humidifier to 30 to 50% using distilled water and leave it on the bedside table.
And if the device has a timer, set it for a few hours so that it turns off while you sleep.