Coughing at night can be bothersome for your partner, and it can also prevent you from sleeping on your own. Some nighttime coughs can be a sign of breathing problems such as a cold, bronchitis, whooping cough, pneumonia, heart failure, asthma, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. If your cough does not improve after one or two nights, you should see a doctor. Most nighttime coughs are a symptom of allergies or congested airways, but this condition can be improved with the right remedies.
Method 1 of 3: Adjust your sleep habits
Step 1. Sleep reclined
Raise your head using pillows before bed and try to sleep using multiple pillows. This will prevent all the mucus you swallow during the day from going back to your throat while you sleep horizontally at night.
- You can also put wooden blocks under your mattress at head level to raise it at least 10 cm. This angle will allow you to prevent the acids in your stomach from moving up to your throat and irritating it.
- If possible, avoid sleeping on your back, as this can cause breathing tension which can cause coughing.
- Sleeping on an incline with multiple pillows is the best way to cure cough caused by heart failure at night. The water then goes down to the lower area of the lungs and no longer affects your breathing.
Step 2. Take a hot bath or shower before going to bed
You could also cough at night due to dry airways. You should then immerse yourself in a steam-filled bathroom and inhale some of it before going to bed.
If you have asthma, the steam can make your condition worse. Do not try this method if you have asthma
Step 3. Avoid sleeping under a fan, heater, or air conditioning
Cold air blown on your face at night can make your cough worse. Move your bed so that it does not end up under the air conditioning or the radiator. If you have a fan in your bedroom at night, set it up opposite your bed.
Step 4. Install a humidifier in your bedroom
Humidifiers can help you maintain humidity in the bedroom. Steam opens your airways and allows air to circulate better. This moisture will help keep your airways hydrated and less prone to coughing.
Keep a humidity level between 40 and 50%, because moths and molds thrive in humid air. To measure the humidity in your bedroom, get a hygrometer from a hardware store
Step 5. Wash your sheets at least once a week
If your nighttime cough is persistent and you are sensitive to allergies, wash your sheets regularly. Dust mites, small creatures that feed on dead skin on the skin, live in bed sheets and are a common trigger for allergies. If you have an allergy or asthma, you may also be at risk of being susceptible to dust mites. Make sure to wash your sheets and use a bottom sheet.
- Wash all your sheets in hot water once a week, not forgetting the pillow cases and the duvet cover.
- You can also wrap your mattress in plastic to prevent dust mites from settling in and to keep your sheets clean.
Step 6. Keep a glass of water on your nightstand
That way, if you wake up coughing at night, you can soothe your throat with a sip of water.
Step 7. Try to breathe through your nose while you sleep
Before you go to bed, remember that the nose is for breathing and the mouth for eating. Practice breathing through your nose while you sleep by consciously forcing yourself to breathe through your nose several times. This will less stress your throat and possibly ease your nocturnal coughing fits.
- Sit with your back straight in a comfortable position.
- Relax your upper body and close your mouth. Rest your tongue behind your lower teeth, away from the palate.
- Place your hands on your diaphragm or on your stomach. You should try to breathe using your diaphragm rather than your torso. It is important to breathe through the diaphragm, as it helps the lungs during gas exchange while massaging your liver, stomach and intestines, which helps flush out the toxins they contain. It will also relax your upper body.
- Breathe in deeply with your nose for 2-3 seconds.
- Exhale through your nose for 3 to 4 seconds. Pause for 2-3 seconds and breathe through your nose again.
- Repeat this breathing exercise through the nose several times. By lengthening the duration of inhales and exhales, you will get used to breathing through your nose rather than through your mouth.
Method 2 of 3: Use professional medications
Step 1. Take an over-the-counter cough medicine
Cough medicine can help you in two different ways.
- An expectorant can help you soften the mucus in your throat and airways.
- A cough suppressant blocks the natural cough reflex and reduces the need to cough.
- You can also take a basic cough syrup or apply Vaporub to your chest before bed. These two drugs are known to reduce nighttime coughs.
- Read the label of the medicine before using it. Ask your pharmacist questions to make sure the type of medicine you are going to take is right for you.
Step 2. Use cough drops
Some lozenges contain a numbing ingredient like benzocaine which can help calm your cough for long enough to help you fall asleep.
Step 3. See your doctor if the cough does not go away after a week
If your nighttime cough gets worse after the treatments or remedies you've taken or after a week, see your doctor. Various factors can cause your nighttime cough, asthma, colds, gastroesophageal reflux disease, taking ACE inhibitors, viral syndrome, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis or cancer. If your nighttime cough is accompanied by a high fever, see your doctor as soon as possible.
- Evaluating your chronic cough begins with a reading of your medical history and physical tests. Your doctor may ask you to have an X-ray for an underlying condition. Further tests for asthma or gastroesophageal reflux disease may be needed.
- Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe a decongestant or more serious medical treatment. A cough syrup that contains codeine is most often prescribed to eliminate the cough. If you already have any health problems that are causing your nighttime cough, such as asthma or a nagging cold, talk to your doctor about specific medications you may be taking to treat this symptom. Your doctor may then prescribe dextromethorphan, morphine, guaifenesin, or gabapentin.
- Talk to your doctor if you are taking an ACE inhibitor, as coughing can be one of its side effects.
- Some coughs, especially those that are stubborn and chronic, can be a symptom of a more serious illness, such as heart disease or lung cancer. However, these conditions are usually accompanied by more serious symptoms, such as coughing up blood or a history of already existing heart problems.
Method 3 of 3: Use natural remedies
Step 1. Take a spoonful of honey before going to bed
Honey is a great natural remedy for sore throats because it coats and soothes the mucous membranes in the throat. Honey also has antibacterial properties thanks to the enzymes added to it by bees. If your cough is caused by a bacterial illness, honey can help you fight this illness.
- Take a c. to s. of raw organic honey 1 to 3 times a day and one tsp. to s. before going to bed. You can also dissolve honey in hot water and lemon juice to drink it before bed.
- For children, you can give them a c. to c. of raw organic honey 1 to 3 times a day and one tsp. to c. before going to bed.
- You should never give honey to children under 2 years old because of the risk of botulism, a bacterial disease.
Step 2. Drink licorice root tea
Licorice root is a natural decongestant. It soothes the respiratory tract and softens the mucus present in the throat. It also helps soothe any inflammation in the throat.
- Try to find dry licorice root at an organic store. You can also buy tea bags that contain licorice root in most supermarkets.
- Let the licorice root steep in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes or for the length of time specified on the tea bag. Cover the tea while it brews to retain the steam and oils in the tea. Drink this tea once or twice a day and before going to bed.
- If you are on steroids and have kidney problems, do not consume licorice root.
Step 3. Gargle with salt water
Salt water can ease the discomfort in your throat and remove the mucus from there. If you are congested and have a cough, gargle with salt water to loosen the mucus in your throat.
- Mix 1 tbsp. to c. of salt in 250 ml of hot water until dissolved.
- Gargle with the salt water for 15 seconds, being careful not to swallow any.
- Spit out the water in the sink and gargle again with the remaining water.
- Rinse your mouth with clean water when you are finished.
Step 4. Use water vapor and natural oils
Steam is a great way to absorb moisture through the airways and prevent dry coughs. By adding essential oils such as tea tree or eucalyptus, you will benefit from their antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Boil enough water to fill a medium-sized, heat-resistant bowl. Pour the water into the bowl and let stand for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Add three drops of tea tree essential oil and one to two drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the salad bowl. Stir the water quickly to release the vapors.
- Tilt your head over the bowl and try to get as close to the steam as possible. Stay away from it or the steam could burn your face. Place a clean towel over your head, like a tent, to trap the steam. Breathe deeply for 5-10 minutes. Repeat this method 2 to 3 times a day.
- You can also rub essential oils on your chest or on your child's chest to prevent a nighttime cough. Always mix essential oils with organic olive oil before applying, as essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin. Applying essential oils will work the same as the Vaporub, without the petrochemicals it contains. For children under 10, check the label on essential oils for any notes or warnings.