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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.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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.
- Congestion is often worse or develops in the morning as a result of your sleeping position 1.
- Staying elevated during the night prevents mucus from settling in the nose and promotes regular drainage.
How to Get Rid of Drainage in the Mornings
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.
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- Medline Plus: Nasal Congestion
- Naclerio RM, Bachert C, Baraniuk JN. Pathophysiology of nasal congestion. Int J Gen Med. 2010;3:47-57.
- Gaude GS. Pulmonary manifestations of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Ann Thorac Med. 2009;4(3):115-23. doi:10.4103/1817-1737.53347
- Lin YH, Chang TS, Yao YC, Li YC. Increased Risk of Chronic Sinusitis in Adults With Gastroesophgeal Reflux Disease: A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015;94(39):e1642. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000001642
- Heartburn and GERD: Treatment options for GERD. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). 2018.
- American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. GERD and LPR.
- Health Day. Researchers Probe Link Between Acid Reflux and Sinusitis.
- JAMA Internal Medicine. Chronic Nasal Congestion at Night Is a Risk Factor for Snoring in a Population-Based Cohort Study.
- National Sleep Foundation. Allergies and Sleep.
- NCBI. Pulmonary Manifestations of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
- NCBI. Pathophysiology of Nasal Congestion.
Valencia Higuera is a freelance writer from Chesapeake, Virginia. She has contributed content to print publications and online publications such as Sidestep.com, AOL Travel, Work.com and ABC Loan Guide. Higuera primarily works as a personal finance, travel and medical writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/journalism from Old Dominion University.