There’s nothing worse than being unable to fall asleep at night because you can’t stop coughing. Nighttime coughs can be triggered by allergies or colds and can impact your quality of sleep.
Why Are Colds Worse at Night?
Because your body operates on a circadian rhythm, your hormones fluctuate throughout the day. Among these fluctuating hormones is cortisol, which impacts immune function. More cortisol is present in your body during the day, which means that white blood cells are less active.
Your cortisol levels are lowered at night, allowing your white blood cells to detect and fight infections more easily. This causes symptoms of those infections, like fever, congestion, chills, or sweating, to occur, meaning you might feel sicker at night.
At night, there is less cortisol in your blood. As a result, your white blood cells readily detect and fight infections in your body at this time, provoking the symptoms of the infection to the surface. Therefore, you feel sicker during the night.
In addition to hormone levels, your body’s positioning at night versus during the day may affect how you feel. And, because you are less distracted at night, you may be more attentive to symptoms when you lay down to go to sleep.
Tips for Getting Rid of a Cough
Use a Humidifier
If the air in your room is dry and warm, it can further irritate your throat and make coughing worse. One cause of this can be turning on your heater – as it releases the pollutants that have built up in the heating ducts.
A humidifier can keep the air moist, preventing your nose and throat from drying out and helping you breathe and sleep better. If you don’t want to invest in a humidifier, taking a hot shower right before bed can have similar effects.
Try Tea or Honey
A hot drink can help loosen mucus buildup in your throat. If you’re coughing or have a sore throat at night, try drinking a cup of non-caffeinated tea before bed. You can also swallow a teaspoon of honey for a similar effect (Please note: You shouldn’t give honey to babies younger than one-year-old.)
Raise Your Head With a Pillow
If you sleep on your back or side, mucus can build up in your throat, causing you to cough. This can be avoided by elevating your head with a couple of pillows while you sleep. However, avoid elevating your head too much as it could cause neck pain.
Take a Decongestant
If your cough is caused by a cold, cough medication or nasal decongestant sprays can help you sleep more soundly. There are a variety of medications available over the counter that are specifically designed for nighttime cold remedies.