How to Sleep With a Runny Nose

How to Sleep With a Runny Nose

Whether it's seasonal allergies or a really annoying cold, sometimes we're stuck with a runny nose and sometimes with a stuffy nose in the middle of the night.

Sleeping with a cold or allergies is not an easy feat. Cold and flu symptoms can interrupt sleep and have you feeling even more tired than before. But, no worries, there are tips to stay ahead of them and still manage to get a good night's sleep.

Let's take a look at some of the things that'll help you sleep better with a runny nose.

Elevate Your Head

With allergy or cold symptoms, it's difficult to sleep (and breathe!) when your head is in a horizontal position. That's why regardless of whether you have a runny or stuffy nose, it's important to elevate and prop up your head in a comfortable position that'll make it easier for you to breathe.

Why so? Well, you'll make it much easier on the sinuses. Even if you only have a runny nose, during sleep, mucus deposits in your sinuses, which can make it hard to breathe and can cause a morning sinus headache. 

However, when you elevate your head, you allow it to loosen the mucus and help the sinuses drain. With that, you also help your nose drain, improving your breathing. Prop your head on a couple of pillows, make sure you’re comfortable, and you'll be all set for the night.

Just don't forget to get a pack of tissues and a glass of water for when the morning comes!

Try Using a Humidifier

Humidifiers are not just for dry climates—they're also great for colds and allergies!

As their name says, humidifiers are designed to increase moisture in the air in your rooms and make them less dry. For people suffering from allergies or a runny/stuffy nose, more water vapor in the air can make breathing much easier.

You can even add certain essential oils to the humidifier for even greater effect. A 2016 South Korean study showed positive results concerning aromatherapy and alleviation of allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose). The study looked at inhalation of blended oil from the Ravensara plant, frankincense, and sandalwood and found a "significant improvement" in symptoms of nasal obstruction.

A word of advice: clean your humidifier regularly because moisture is notorious for promoting bacterial and fungal growth. Make sure to read the maintenance instructions thoroughly on how to clean and disinfect it!

Use a Saline Spray

A nasal spray can come in different varieties. The most benign one is the saline spray or saline rinse. This is a very simple mixture of sterile water and salt (often sea salt), which you can find at any pharmacy (without a prescription).

Unlike steroid sprays, saline rinses are usually pretty safe to use, and you can use them several times throughout the night. They will help with any nasal irritation or swelling and can alleviate your runny nose symptoms.

Use a Steroid Nasal Spray

If your uncomfortable symptoms continue, maybe it's time to use different kinds of decongestant nasal sprays. One option is steroid sprays or corticosteroid nasal sprays, and they have a more potent composition than saline sprays. That's why they should be used in accordance with a doctor's advice and for a limited amount of time.

That said, they reduce mucus and swelling in the nasal passages and can be very effective in alleviating nasal congestion.

Wear Nasal Strips

Nasal strips are usually used to prevent snoring, but they can be equally helpful in relieving runny or stuffy nose symptoms.

How do they work? You attach the nasal strip to the bridge of your nose, and it works by lightly pulling out the nostrils, thus allowing for the opening of nasal passages and alleviating nasal congestion.

Nasal strips are safe to use, and they can be a good alternative for people who don't want to use drugs. You can wear the nasal strips until your condition improves.


While falling asleep with a runny nose can be quite uncomfortable, there are ways to tackle the discomfort, improve your sleep and wake up rested in the morning. 

If your symptoms don't improve with time, though, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor. Whatever it is, just don't worry. We’re sure better sleep is just around the corner!