Causes of Morning Congestion

Morning congestion is common in some people, and different factors can bring on this condition 1. Congestion occurs in people with colds, allergies and sinus problems 1. In some cases, these individuals are able to control congestion symptoms during the day 1. Unfortunately, congestion returns at night and results in a stuffy nose or breathing difficulties in the morning 1. Before you can treat morning congestion, it's imperative to pinpoint the cause 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Sleep Position

Congestion is often worse or develops in the morning as a result of your sleeping position 1. Lying flat in bed causes mucus to settle in the nasal passages. Mucus thickens during the night, and in the morning, this creates a stuffy nose or breathing problems. Staying elevated during the night prevents mucus from settling in the nose and promotes regular drainage. Sleeping on top of two or three pillows can help your body remain slightly upright during the night.

Dry Air

Another factor that plays a role in morning congestion is dry air during the night 1. Breathing in this type of air gradually thickens mucus to the point where your body is unable to release or expel the buildup. Dry air is common during the winter months when the temperature in the home is higher. Humidifiers help eliminate morning congestion by adding moisture to your bedroom at night 1. This moisture thins mucus and restores breathing.


Allergies are another common cause of morning congestion 1. Pillows, mattress pads and bedspreads are a breeding ground for dust and other allergens--especially since these items aren't frequently washed. Sleeping on top of allergens for eight hours can trigger a host of symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and congestion 1. Remedy the cause of morning congestion associated with allergies by taking an antihistamine before bedtime, washing bedding and mattress pads once a week or placing plastic over your mattress to repel dust 1.