It is common for a cough to get worse at night. There are a few reasons why this occurs, this article explores possible causes and what you can do to help ease the coughing.
Having a persistent cough can be exhausting. And just when you’re ready to lay down and get some rest at night it seems to get worse. It’s not your imagination – it is common for a cough to get worse at night. There are a few reasons why this occurs.
One of the most common causes of night cough is post-nasal drip.
Post-nasal drip is the term used for the mucus from your nose or sinuses dripping down the back of your throat. It is often caused by viruses, like the common cold and the flu, and may also be caused by hay fever, sinusitis and cold air.
The most common symptoms of post-nasal drip are:
Mucus in the throat
Feeling like you need to clear your throat regularly
A sore throat
Sensation of a ‘tickle’ in the throat
The simple answer is gravity!
When you lay down at night the mucus running down from your nose and sinuses starts to pool and collects in the back of your throat, which then triggers your night cough.
The best way to stop coughing at night due to post-nasal drip is to elevate your head and neck while you sleep by using an extra pillow or two. Having your head elevated will help your nasal passages drain in the evening and reduce mucus pooling and night coughing.
Another common trigger for a cough worse at night is the air that you are breathing.
Dry, indoor air can aggravate an already irritated nose and throat, making your night cough worse.
The nose and mouth warm and humidify air as it is breathed in, making it easier to breathe before it reaches the lungs. However, when the air is very cold and dry it is more difficult for the body to warm it up. When the cold air reaches the airways, the lungs can react by tightening up, and cold air, which contains less moisture, can have a drying effect on the airways.
The best way to stop coughing at night due to dry air is to try a humidifier. A humidifier can warm the air and reduce the dryness, making it easier to breathe, and less likely to make your cough worse at night.
References available upon request.