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How To Sleep When Coughing

Sep 30, 2021 | Sleep

Coughing is disruptive, uncomfortable, and loud. Whether you’ve got a mild cough or a major one, it’s hard to get some good shuteye when your body keeps coughing. Luckily, doctors have studied this very problem for centuries, and they’ve come up with plenty of tricks you can use to help yourself doze off. If you want to know how to sleep when coughing, here are the very best tips to get plenty of rest.


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Why Am I Coughing?

Coughs are your body’s response to a blockage or irritation in your lungs, airway, or throat. They’re a common symptom of many conditions, including viruses like colds, chronic conditions like asthma or allergies, or exposure to things like pollution or smoke. Coughs can also occur as a side effect of medication for other issues. While coughs are often reasonably benign, a long-lasting cough or a cough that shifts from dry to wet can be a sign of a severe medical condition.

Here are some of the more common medical issues that can result in a cough:


COPD is a medical term that describes a specific type of damage to your lungs and airways. COPD usually occurs as a result of the damage smoking cigarettes can cause to your respiratory system.


Bronchitis refers to a condition where the tubes that bring air into your lungs become inflamed. Often a side effect of a viral infection but can also be caused by smoking or other factors.


Pneumonia refers to an infection that’s inside your lungs, whether it’s a virus, a bacteria, or a fungus. Pneumonia can be pretty mild, requiring just a bit of bed rest and some over-the-counter medication to get over, or very severe, requiring hospitalization.


Asthma can cause a wide range of symptoms, including coughing. When an asthma sufferer’s airways begin to constrict, the body sometimes tries to clear this obstruction by coughing.


If your body’s immune system decides it’s under attack, it’ll start to take action to try to keep you safe. In some cases, this involves coughing. It can also affect increased mucus production or other symptoms that can indirectly cause a cough.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition involving stomach acid making its way up through your digestive tract, sometimes reaching your mouth. If the acid gets high enough, it can irritate your throat, causing a chronic cough.

Viral Infections:

Perhaps the most recognized cause of a cough, a virus (like a cold or the flu), can often cause you to cough. These viruses tend to last about a week, but their damage to your throat can take much longer to heal. If you’re trying to sleep in an environment with dry air, your cough might persist for several weeks.

8 Tips for How to Sleep When Coughing

Now that you’ve got an idea of what conditions cause coughs, here are some things you can try to soothe your throat, keep your airway clear, and get to sleep.

1. Consume Honey

Honey has been a traditional remedy for coughs and throat-related conditions for years. Recent studies suggest that it might be better than over-the-counter cough medicine to combat coughs and sore throats, especially in children.

Honey has natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it’ll help soothe your cough immediately by reducing swelling while fighting off any viruses, bacteria, or fungus that might be causing the issue.

Most experts suggest that you should not give honey to small children under 12 months of age. If you’re trying to help a young child sleep, consider other options. However, for children over a year, honey tends to be safer, similarly effective, and easier to administer than cough medicine for mild symptoms.

We highly recommend Raw Mānuka Honey for its many antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits. Learn More Here.

2. Cough Medicine

Cough medicines have three functions:

  • Helping your body fight off the root cause of your cough.
  • They can help fight / mitigate the symptoms.
  • Most importantly they can help you get to sleep.

Different cough medicines do various combinations of these things. Decongestants cause your body to open up your nasal passages, expectorants make your mucus runnier and easier to dislodge through coughing, and cough suppressants try to reduce your body’s cough reflex to prevent the actual cough from occurring.

Finally, many popular cough medicines include ingredients that cause drowsiness, making it easier to ignore your cough and get to sleep. Find a treatment with the right combination of these properties to fight off your cough and provide you with the relief you need.

3. Take a Steamy Shower

Increasing the humidity in your area can soothe and moisturize your nasal passages, preventing coughs from occurring. Taking a warm shower, filling a bowl with hot water, and putting it below your face or turning on a humidifier will help raise the humidity in your immediate area.

For most people, showers are the quickest and most effective way to ensure that they get plenty of moisture-laden air in their system. If you want long-term relief, however, consider investing in a humidifier to keep things humid automatically. Be sure to clean it frequently, however, as your humidifier’s tank might otherwise become a hotbed for bacteria and mold.

4. Drink Warm Liquids

Not only will having a cup of hot tea get some steamy air in your nose, throat, and lungs, it’ll also help you feel better. Research suggests that drinking hot liquids significantly affects how people think about their cold symptoms, including coughs and sore throats.

Study participants with hot drinks said they breathed better, experienced less pain, and felt less tired and sick afterward. Considering this cure is as simple as heating some water and making your favorite hot beverage, it should be one of the first things you try.

5. Elevate your Head with Pillows

The mucus in your nasal passages flows down towards the center of the earth. If your head is flat, this can lead to mucus piling up at the back of your throat, causing discomfort and coughing. Simply tilting your head so that the mucus can flow more freely often has a dramatic and immediate effect on your cough.

Use some extra pillows or other comfy objects so you can lie down with your head on an incline. If your cough gets worse when you lie down and goes away when you stand up, this trick will probably work wonders for you. Just like honey, be careful using this trick with small children. However, with older children and adults, elevating the head is safe, simple, and incredibly inexpensive.

Need more pillows? Check out Amazon’s Pillow selection here.

6. Use A Humidifier

As mentioned above, the amount of moisture in the air profoundly affects your respiratory system. Modern humidifiers are inexpensive, quiet, and almost entirely automatic. All you need to do is fill it up periodically with fresh water and clean the tank once or twice a week.

Most humidifiers can often configure to automatically turn on when the humidity drops below a certain amount, eliminating any guesswork and keeping your home and workplace comfortable for everyone.

Check out the latest deals on Humidifiers here.

7. Take A Break

Sleep doesn’t always come easy, even without a cough. For many people, lying in bed and hoping you’ll fall asleep is incredibly counterproductive. Consider changing things up for a half-hour or so and seeing where you’re at afterward.

Try sleeping on the couch or in a different room, performing a calm activity in dim light, or leisurely running through some of the tricks above, like taking a hot shower or enjoying some hot tea with honey. Believe it or not, this brief rest from trying to rest is often the very thing you need to sleep soundly for the rest of the night.

8. When to see a doctor

Any time your coughing excessively, it can be can be a sign of serious illness and should be taken seriously. If you’ve got a cough that lasts for more than 7 to 10 days, your cough feels more serious than you think it should be, you start to cough up mucus when you weren’t coughing up mucus initially, you have a fever, or your ankles swell, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor.

If you have difficulty breathing, you start to cough up blood, or you have chest pains, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Final Thoughts

Sleeping with a cough is difficult. By taking advantage of the above tips, you can usually reduce your coughing substantially and get a good night’s rest. Many of the above tips are simple, pleasant activities that can immediately make you feel better. Even if you don’t have cough medicine on hand, you can try drinking some green tea with honey, taking a hot shower, and elevating your head with pillows to help your nasal passages drain more naturally. Cough medicine can reduce your body’s desire to cough, help you feel more drowsy, and make it easier for your body to clear out your nasal passages, making it less likely you’d need to cough in the first place.

Finally, a humidifier is often an excellent investment to improve your comfort at home or the workplace, especially if you live in an arid climate. We hope you found our suggestions helpful for how to sleep when coughing. Please feel free to share our content and sleep awesomely, my friends.

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