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How To Sleep With a Sore Throat & Still Get Enough Sleep?

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

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3 April 2024 4 min read

Sleeping with a sore throat is quite difficult, but we might just have a few solutions up our sleeve. Learn how to sleep with sore throat better.

A sore throat is a problem most people face at least once during the year. Now, apart from the constant scratching and annoyance, a sore throat can be a real nuisance once the lights turn off.

Namely, it's quite difficult to sleep when you're dealing with throat pain. You toss and turn, trying hard to fall asleep, but even if you manage to do so – coughing wakes you up. 

So, today, we're trying to answer the age-old question – how to sleep with a sore throat and still get enough sleep? Well, let's find out!

What can I do to ease my sore throat?

A sick woman having problem with sore throat.

Sore throats cause many sleepless nights all over the world. Whether it's just an itchy throat, nasal congestion, or a severe sore throat – the outcome's the same – you can't sleep.

However, there are quite a few things you could try to ease the persistent sore throat and aid in falling asleep.

Keep in mind, this is not professional medical advice, nor is this medically reviewed advice, but just a mere set of general tips to help you sleep and breathe easier.

Steam inhalation before the sleep time

A woman steam inhaling herself on diffuser

Steam inhalation can reduce swelling and ease the pain of a sore throat. Whether you go for prescription inhalations or you just enjoy some peppermint, or eucalyptus tea steam is up to you and the severity of your throat soreness. Either way, both should provide sufficient relief and help you fall asleep.

Drink cough syrup before the bedtime

A girl getting a cough syrup.

Drinking cough syrup can calm sore throat that can cause coughing, and that can keep you awake at night – especially if you're dealing with a dry cough. A single tablespoon of cough syrup will go a long way in soothing your scratchy throat, allowing you to sleep through the night.

Lie on your side

A young woman laying on side.

Runny nose and nasal congestion could cause throat pain. Sleeping on your side should be able to drain one of your congested nasal passages, allowing some level of pain relief and throat soothing. This is a common method of handling symptoms of a bacterial infection or the common cold.

Avoid hot and cold drinks

Both hot and cold drinks could cause your throat to flare up and cause even more pain, coughing and general discomfort. Despite what many say, drinking hot water with lemon or hot tea will not act as a pain reliever. In fact, it will only make matters worse, so it's advisable that you stick only to warm beverages before bedtime.

Take a shower before going to bed

a woman getting a shower before bed

Showering with hot water will not only relax your whole body and put you in the mood to sleep, but it will also help you soothe your throat and relieve congestion. A steamy shower is not a medical treatment, but it is one of the most common home remedies to relieve congestion, itchy throat, and other common flu symptoms.

Put your phone on silent to avoid disturbance

If you manage to fall asleep – it's best that you stay that way. Therefore, we'd suggest putting your phone on silent to avoid any disturbances that would wake you up.

Sleep on an inclined bed

Sleeping at an incline could help ease congestion, sore throat, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other symptoms associated with a common cold that usually keep you up at night. Whether you sleep on an inclined bed or just a wedge pillow at the head of your bed is up to you, but if you're comfortable sleeping in this position – give it a try.

Increase humidity in the room where you sleep

A humidifier for better sleep

Dry air is not pleasant while you're dealing with throat issues, so using a steamer or a humidifier in your bedroom could help you breathe easier. Moist air is pleasant on the irritated tissues in your throat and nose, allowing you to fall and stay asleep. Just make sure you regularly clean your humidifier to avoid worsening your state and compromising your immune system with aerosol germs.

Keep your sheets clean & fresh

Dirty sheets are a breeding ground for common household allergens that could aggravate your state and ruin your sleep schedule. Therefore, we strongly urge you to keep your sheets and bedding fresh and clean. Change them every two days while dealing with sore throat or any other flu-like symptoms.

Try recommended (over-the-counter) medications

If nothing else works, cold medications, over the counter lozenges, throat sprays, and other pain relievers for an achy throat will probably help you ease the pain and fall asleep easier. Most of these meds will be readily available, but if you're already using any other medication, we suggest that you consult with your doctor first.

Are there any natural remedies for sore throat?

Apart from the previously mentioned methods, there are also some other “quick-relief” natural remedies that could help you deal with an upset throat, stomach acid reflux, and other flu-like symptoms that cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. So, let's check them out.

Honey and warm tea

A glass of tea and honey spoon.

Mixing honey and warm tea is a common household remedy for an achy throat. According to some peer-reviewed studies, honey is more effective at calming persistent sore throat and coughing than some common over-the-counter medicaments.

Warm chamomile tea

Chamomile tea will put you to sleep whether you're sick or not. Its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent natural remedy for all kinds of flu-like symptoms. Also, while you're waiting for your tea to cool off, you may inhale chamomile tea steam to further soothe your aches.

Peppermint

A fresh peppermint and peppermint oil.

Just like chamomile, peppermint tea is another common natural remedy used to treat an array of symptoms. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral, making it more than a suitable candidate to help you sleep better while you're sick or coming down with a cold.

Warm salt water

Gargle warm salt water to ease congestion, loosen mucus and help soothe an aching throat to help you sleep better. Saltwater is generally considered one of the best home remedy replacements for nasal spray and will certainly help you drift away to the land of dreams.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar or ACV is known for treating many viral infections. Just like with salt and water, create a mixture of ACV and warm water and gargle with it. Also, don't be afraid to swallow a bit of it. Sipping ACV and warm water will help break down mucus and soothe an aching throat.

What if none of the methods above work?

A male doctor holding antibiotics in hand.

If you have a fever, swollen glands, and none of the above-mentioned practices don't seem to work or help, or if you have any of the following symptoms…

  • Painful swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Red spots at the back of the mouth

…you might suffer from strep throat.

 

If that's the case, treatment with antibiotics is necessary, and the aforementioned practices and methods won't do you much good on their own. At that point, going to the doctor is paramount. You'll need prescription medicine to go along with home remedies. With those combined, we're quite sure you'll be able to sleep through the night with no issues whatsoever.

So that's how to sleep with sore throat – if you have an alternative method that we haven't listed in here, please write us comments! We'll be more than happy to discuss it!

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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