With fall here and the weather fluctuating between summer heat and winter chill, a sensitive nose may get stuffy. With less humidity in the air and the radiators coming alive, the drier air can also leave your nose more susceptible to cold and flu season. You may even suffer from autumn allergies. Trying to sleep with nasal congestion is challenging. Let’s look at the best position to sleep well with a stuffy nose.

What Causes a Stuffy Nose?


If you experience seasonal allergies, you understand mouth breathing, sometimes even for months on end during hay fever season. 

And some people suffer from a stuffy nose year-round. Allergies to dust mites, pets, smoke, or laundry detergent can irritate a chronic allergy. Any kind of allergy that causes your sinuses to swell can contribute to a stuffy nose. Try these solutions to help your stuffy allergic nose:

  • Wash blankets and sheets often
  • Use allergenic pillowcases
  • Have your house often cleaned to remove dust
  • Don’t use perfumed candles or incense in your home
  • Let a relative or good friend keep your pets and have your house intensely cleaned to eliminate all dander. You may need a special-ordered spray that inactivates dander.
  • Don’t smoke or let others smoke in your house
  • Use free and clear laundry detergents

See your ENT doctor and set up allergy tests to determine your worst nasal stuffiness triggers. Knowing the culprit can help you find a better solution. Getting allergy treatments for your symptoms can help:

  • Reduce fatigue from the overactivity of your immune system.
  • Make your quality of living healthier.
  • Reduce your cost of office visits, medication, and loss of work and school.

Colds and Flu

Any kind of respiratory infection can bring on congestion in your nose. You may need a decongestant to help with the sinus blockage during a cold or flu. Taking the proper medications for your symptoms can ensure better sleep.

See your ENT doctor to care for your colds and flu. Ensure that you choose the correct medicines for your particular symptoms. Many cold and cough medicines have multiple ingredients for overall symptoms, but you don’t want to overmedicate. 

Nasal Decongestant Spray

Be careful of nasal decongestant sprays that cause stuffiness when you stop using them. If you use an over-the-counter nasal decongestant spray daily, your nose may need progressively more nasal spray to get the same effect. If you stop using the medication, your stuffy nose returns because you stopped the spray. This phenomenon is called a rebound effect. 

However, your nose will return to normal in a few days if you stop using the decongestant spray. To prevent the rebound effect, only use nasal decongestant spray on the days or nights you need it, up to 3 days in a row. 

This rebound effect with decongestant nasal sprays does not occur with steroid-based allergy nose sprays that recommend daily use.

Acid Reflux

Sometimes, acid reflux can also contribute to a stuffy nose. Individuals with acid reflux often face stuffy noses when lying down. Nasal passages get irritated with the acid that comes up your esophagus when you’re not upright. 

Consider propping yourself up a bit if you’ve just had a big meal within the last 2 hours. If you eat late at night, try moving your dinnertime earlier and giving your body time to digest food before hitting the sack. You can also prop the head of your bed up with wooden blocks for a DIY solution to every night acid reflux.

Talk to your doctor about medications that prevent acid reflux if yours does not settle down with these solutions.

Deviated Septum

Individuals with a deviated septum have a nasal septum that is off-center. The inside cartilage that separates the two nostrils is not in the middle of the nose. This deviated septum can cause difficulty breathing and nasal congestion for some people. According to WebMD, signs of a deviated septum include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Recurrent or repeated sinus infections 
  • Nosebleeds
  • Facial pain
  • Headache
  • Postnasal drip
  • Loud breathing and snoring during sleep
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sleep apnea (1)

Prop Yourself Up

No matter what causes your stuffy nose, staying more upright can help. “When a person lies down at night, there is more blood flowing to the head, leading to an increased congestion of the nasal lining,” says David Kim, MD, an otolaryngologist with Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California. (2)

When nasal passages become inflamed and your sinuses don’t drain properly, it is hard to breathe through your nose. Propping your head up on a high pillow can help keep your sinuses more open.  Or you could try sleeping in a recliner or on an adjustable bed with the head propped higher. The idea is to keep your blood flowing down away from your sinuses.

Humidify Your Environment

Often, just giving some humidity to your air can soothe inflamed sinuses. You can place a humidifier in your room running each night, or choose an essential oil diffuser that sends a cool mist into the air. Be careful of essential oils that might irritate your nose. 

For a concentrated stream of warm vapor, use a vaporizer and consider adding some Vick’s to help open those sinuses up. When humidity helps, you can sleep in any position without fear of a stuffy nose.

We Can Help

Many factors contribute to a stuffy nose. At Enticare, our ear nose and throat doctors help you determine what is causing your stuffy nose and find solutions to keep you breathing clearly. Whether you suffer from allergies, deviated septum, chronic colds and sinus infections, or acid reflux, our focus is your better health and good rest each night. Our extensive expertise in the area of sinus issues and our experienced team of surgeons can correct any sinus problem causing sleepless nights. Set up an appointment today and find out how we can help you. 

  1. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/deviated-septum
  2. https://www.insider.com/stuffy-nose-at-night


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