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How To Sleep With A Blocked Nose?

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Written by Alex Petrović

Sleep Consultant

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8 November 2023 9 min read

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could learn how to sleep with a blocked nose instead of struggling all night?

There comes a time, usually around spring, in everyone's life when we lie down in bed and ponder the question – how to sleep with a blocked nose?

Some of us have struggled with this issue for a better part of our lives. We've tried all kinds of nasal sprays and home remedies until we finally realised it was time to pay the old doc a visit.

Now, you don't have to go through the same thing we did. We've gone through trial and error and because of it, we've come up with a fool-proof guide on how to make sleeping with a stuffy nose ten times easier.

So, don't do what we did. Learn from our experiences, or better yet our mistakes and get a full night of restful sleep!

The causes of blocked nose

First things first, we have to talk about the causes. A nasal congestion doesn't just appear out of thin air – although it might seem like it does.

There are several reasons why your nose might be blocked during the day or when you go to bed at night. Here are the most common ones:

An image of a woman holding her nose due to an unpleasant musty smell.

Upper respiratory infection

Upper respiratory infections are the most common cause of a runny nose or sinus pain. These include colds, flu, and sinus infections.

A common cold is the most common type of upper respiratory infection. It's caused by a virus and usually lasts for about a week.
Flu, on the other hand, is caused by a different virus and symptoms tend to last longer than cold symptoms. They are also more severe.

Sinus infections are usually caused by bacteria and they can last for several weeks – especially if you're dealing with streptococci. If that's the case, expect to take antibiotic nasal drops for about two weeks.

Related reading:


If you have allergies, you're probably no stranger to the not-so-occasional stuffy nose. Allergies can be caused by a variety of things like dust, pollen, pet dander, and even certain foods.

They can also be seasonal, which means you'll only have them during certain times of the year. For example, hay fever is a type of seasonal allergy that's caused by pollen.

But also, you could be allergic to dust, which is a year-round problem, but thankfully, hypoallergenic pillows and other bedding can help with that.

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Deviated septum

The septum is the bone and cartilage that divides your nostrils. But sometimes, the septum can be pushed out of place. This is called a deviated septum. A deviated septum can be caused by a variety of things like an injury, birth defects, or even the ageing process. It can also make it difficult to breathe and can cause a blocked nose. Thankfully, a routine surgery will fix the issue rather easily.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

While GERD is more commonly known to cause heartburn, it can also cause a blocked nose – or at least a similar sensation. Namely, symptoms of GERD often coincide with symptoms of sinusitis – which is an inflammation of the sinuses.

This is because the stomach acid that's being regurgitated (acid reflux) can inflame the lining of the throat, causing you to constantly try to clear your irritated and sore throat, just like you would if you were suffering from nasal drip caused by sinusitis.

How to sleep with a blocked nose and get enough sleep?

Alright, now that we've established the most common causes of a stuffy nose at night, it's time to talk about how you can get some relief and actually get some sleep.

An image of a woman sleeping on a couch with a limited space.

Use hypoallergenic bedding covers and pillowcases

If allergies are the bane of your existence, you can't afford to be picky when it comes to bedding. Opt for hypoallergenic materials like bamboo and make sure to wash them frequently – whether we're talking about pillowcases, duvet covers or fitted sheets. Keeping dust mites and other allergens at bay will do wonders for your blocked nose.

This way, you'll create an allergy-free oasis where you can finally get some rest.

Lift your head up (sleep on a slight incline)

Keeping your head up high is not just a piece of good general life advice but also a great way to get some relief when you're struggling with a blocked nose.

When you sleep on your back, gravity pulls the mucus down and it can block your nostrils. But when you sleep on an incline – whether that's with extra pillows or a wedge pillow – gravity does half the work for you and the mucus can drain more easily.

An image of a woman sleeping on couch with elevated head.

Increase humidity in your room

If you live in a dry climate or if the air in your home is particularly dry, using a humidifier can make a world of difference – especially when your nose is blocked.

The humidifier will add some moisture to the air and will help thin out the mucus, making it easier to breathe. Plus, the increased humidity will also prevent your nose from drying out – which can dry out your nose and make the problem even worse.

And, even if you don't struggle with a blocked nose – a humidifier is a very good investment if you live in a particularly dry area. Put some essential oils inside of that thing and have a spa day.

Use nasal spray

Nasal sprays are a short-term solution, but boy are they an effective one.

If you use them before bed, they can help clear your nose and make it easier to breathe. Just make sure not to use them for more than a few days in a row as they can actually cause more irritation if used too frequently.

A female holding a nasal spray.

Also, don't go for the hard stuff right away. Look for a saline nasal spray first as it's much gentler on the nose. The harsh ones will eat away at your nostrils if you're not careful.

Get an air purifier

If you have allergies, an air purifier can be a godsend. Just like humidifiers, air purifiers are a great way to improve the air quality in your home – apart from the lavender oils and stuff. It will take care of the pollen, dust, and other allergens floating around in your home, making it easier to breathe and, as a result, making it easier to sleep.

an image of a woman setting up an air purifier

Use nasal strips

A nasal strip is very effective when it comes to helping you get a good night's sleep with a stuffy nose. The nasal strips are made of flexible, spring-like bands that fit above the nostril flare. They work by lifting the nasal passages and making it easier for the air to flow through. And, while they're not a long-term solution, they can help you get some relief when you need it the most.

Stay hydrated

Water's your friend, especially when you have a cold or allergies. Drinking plenty of fluids will help thin out the mucus, keep your nasal passages moist and make it easier to breathe. And, even if you're not struggling with a stuffy nose – staying hydrated is always a good idea.

An image of a man drinking a glass of water in his bed before the bed time.


And, here's another good use of water – steaming. Boil some water and pour it into a bowl. Lean over the bowl, making sure to cover your head with a towel, and breathe in the steam. The steam will help thin out the mucus and make it easier to breathe. And oh, you can make this even better by adding chamomile tea to the water.

Do it for 10-15 minutes, or until the water cools down. And, if you don't have time to boil water – take a hot shower. The steam from the shower will do the same.

Take allergy drugs before sleep

Finally, if none of this works and you're still struggling with a blocked nose, take some allergy medication before bed. There are plenty of options out there, so talk to your doctor to see which one would be the best for you. And, if you're dealing with a cold, there are also some great over-the-counter medications that can help.

an image of drugs and medications

When to visit a doctor?

Like we said in the intro, sometimes, there's only so much you can do all by yourself. Sometimes the problem's a bit more serious and you just have to talk to your physician. Here's when to go and pay them a visit.


First we will answer the question do we sneeze during the REM phase. No, we do not sneeze during REM phase because those are deeper stages of sleep when the nerves responsible for sneezing are turned off, as well as those nerves that make us feel tickling. We can sneeze during non-REM sleep, which is a period of light sleep and we are about to wake up any moment.

Facial pain, green and smelling nose discharge

If you're dealing with any of these – it's time to see a doctor. These might be the signs of a sinus infection and, trust us, you don't want to mess with that. If it hurts, it's probably not good. You know that much. But also, a green or yellowish-green discharge is usually a sign of an infection, as is a bad smell. So, if you notice any of these – make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.


A fever is never a good sign and sleeping with a fever is not pleasant at all. If your temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius – you need to see a doctor. A fever is usually a sign of an infection, and you definitely don't want to leave that untreated – whether it's caused by the common flu or something a bit more serious.


Nosebleeds are usually harmless if you get them once a year or once every few years.
However, frequent nosebleeds coupled with a blocked nose, well, that's not something we'd mess around with. There are pretty much numerous conditions that could cause this, so it's best to visit your doctor and rule them all out. Don't guess and don't visit WebMD. If you do, you'll leave thinking you have cancer and a few weeks to live, which is almost never the case.
Just go to the doctor's office.

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