During the day, your nose is fine, but when you are lying in bed and getting ready to sleep, the congestion seems to go from 0 to 100, real quick. Why does your nose get stuffy when you are ready to hit the sack? Is this just in your head or is there a scientific explanation for this?
This phenomenon can be due to the fact that congestion is less noticeable during the day due to many of the distractions, however, this isn’t the whole story.
Top reasons for stuffy nose at night
One of the most common explanations has to do with gravity. Yes, blame Isaac Newton for the discovery of gravity. You may be thinking whether the mucus buildup in your nose while lying down is blocking the nasal passageway? This can certainly contribute to the “feeling” of stuffiness, but there is a bigger culprit: Engorged or inflamed blood vessels inside the nasal passageways.
Lying down to sleep
When you lie down your blood pressure changes and you may experience increased blood flow to the head and nasal passageway, your upper part of the body. The increased blood flow creates inflamed nasal passageways. Pregnant women also tend to have congestion due to the increased blood flow.
When you are upright, mucus is running down from your nose and sinuses run into the back of your throat, ultimately being swallowed. However, when you are lying down, gravity makes it difficult to clear mucus from your nose and sinus cavities.
Unless you have a severe case of congestion, most of you won’t even notice the pooling and backing up of mucus in your nose and throat because as soon as you wake, within an hour or two gravity will do its work and drain most of it out.
Another reason, you “feel” the building up of congestion at night is because you don’t go to sleep right away. How often do you browse through your social feeds or read a book before actually going to sleep? This could be 30 minutes or even an hour before you fall asleep. Lying down and being fully awake will give you the sensation of congestion as supposed to switching off and being deep asleep.
Maybe it’s Acid Reflux
I got it, it’s mostly the gravitational force that’s making me “feel” most congested than I should, but is there something else that could be causing this stuffy feeling?
Acid reflux, which you often associate with the term “heartburn”, could be another reason why you feel stuffy. Some of the common symptoms of acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease “GERD”) include coughing, sore throat, postnasal drip, hoarseness, and wheezing.
If your stomach is full of acid and you have an impaired esophageal sphincter (valve), you will feel many of these symptoms. The acid in the stomach can go up the esophagus and irritate th back of the throat. The throat of course is connected to the nasal passageway.
There is a growing consensus amongst medical professionals that there is a definite link between GERD, chronic sinusitis, and even nasal congestion.
Potential solutions to stuffy nose
Now that you’ve read through some of the causes, what do you do about it?
Here are some tips to help reduce congestion and improve sleep quality:
- Stop smoking
- Drink lots of water
- Do not eat within a couple of hours before going to bed or even lying down
- Elevate your head instead of lying completely flat
- Use a cool-mist humidifier by the bedside
Hope this helps relieve your stuffy nose at night. However, if you have persistent congestion, you should seek out the advice of a medical professional.