Why do I have congestion at night?


Nasal congestion is usually worse at night. Nasal congestion, also known as nasal congestion, is the accumulation of fluid in the tissues that line the nasal passages. This narrows the upper airways, making it difficult to breathe in and out through the nose.

One of the reasons nasal congestion can be worse at night is that you may be too distracted during the day to realize how congested you really are. But that is not all. There are several other factors that contribute to increased congestion at night.

This article looks at the various causes of nocturnal nasal congestion. It also provides tips on how to relieve nighttime congestion.

Verwell / Brianna Gilmartin

Reasons for nighttime overload

The tightness is caused by excess mucus that blocks the nasal passages. Another cause is swollen and / or inflamed blood vessels within the nasal passages. Both problems can be worse at night.

Nighttime congestion sometimes depends on a person's anatomy and severity. In some health conditions, symptoms are worse when lying down. Many people find that their nasal congestion begins to improve within an hour or two after waking up in the morning. Gravity often does its job again.

Anatomy and congestion

When you are standing or sitting during the day, mucus is constantly flowing naturally by gravity. It travels from the nose and sinuses to the back of the throat, where it is ingested. Most likely, you are not even aware that this is happening.

However, when you are lying in bed or bent over in a horizontal position, gravity can cause mucus to collect or pool instead of dripping.

Changes in blood flow

When you lie down, your blood pressure changes. It can also increase blood flow to the upper body, including the head and nasal passages.

This increased blood flow can cause inflammation of the vessels inside the nose and nasal passages, which can cause or worsen nasal congestion.

Natural changes in blood flow due to pregnancy are also a common cause of congestion.

Alternative nasal congestion

Many people find that a nostril becomes clogged at certain times of the day, but at night the nasal congestion changes.

If only one nostril is clogged at night, it is probably due to a stuffy nose on the other side. This is due to a normal process known as the nasal cycle. The cause of the cycle is unknown, but it is not a disorder.

Congestion occurs when the turbinate (a structure along the sinus wall that secretes mucus) swells in one nostril. This blocks the air flow from this side.

Acid reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which acid from the stomach flows back into the esophagus , the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

Known as reflux, it occurs when the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus (esophageal sphincter) weakens and cannot stay closed. Acid reflux can irritate the nose, which can lead to nasal congestion.

People with GERD can experience acid reflux at any time of the day. And when you lie down and lose gravity, stomach acid is more likely to move up your esophagus.

This is why GERD symptoms, which include nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, postnasal discharge , wheezing, and hoarseness, tend to be worse at night and first thing in the morning.


Acid reflux from GERD can cause a stuffy nose. Reflux symptoms tend to be worse at night when you lie down. As a result, the nose can become more congested at night.

Reduce nighttime congestion.

Research shows that nasal congestion at night can have a major impact on your quality of sleep. In fact, people with chronic sinusitis are three to nine times more likely to experience sleep disturbances due to frequent nighttime awakenings.

Try these tips to reduce nocturnal nasal congestion and improve sleep:

  • Raise the head of the bed instead of lying down.
  • Do not eat several hours before bedtime or lying down.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier next to your bed.
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day.
  • Stop smoking.

If the condition makes you feel congested, your healthcare provider may recommend additional strategies and medications to help relieve symptoms and help you fall asleep.

For example, allergies can be treated with antihistamines, nasal steroids, or immunotherapy . Medications such as antacids and proton pump inhibitors are commonly used to treat GERD.


You have no idea that nasal congestion is worse at night. There are several different reasons why you may run into this, and there can be several.

Some, like the position in a dream, can be easily corrected. Others, like GERD, may need treatment.

Your healthcare provider can determine the cause of your nasal congestion at night so that you can sleep well.

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