How to Sleep When Ears are Plugged

Allergies, colds, sinus problems, ear infections and viruses can cause ears to become plugged and make sleep more difficult. Lying down can make congested ears feel worse and wreak havoc to your sleep schedule. Care should be taken when using remedies to unclog congested ears.

Is This an Emergency?

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

Elevate your head and shoulders by using extra pillows. Keeping your head raised while you sleep will help your ears drain and reduce pressure.

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Sleep on the opposite side of the plugged ear if only one ear is plugged. Laying on the side that doesn't hurt should help the plugged ear drain and help you sleep better.

Use saline spray in your nose to thin mucus 1. The nose, ears and throat are all connected and alleviating congestion by rinsing your nose will reduce pressure in your ears and help you sleep 1.

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Use a humidifier in your bedroom. The mist and moisture should relieve dryness and help reduce some congestion in your ear, nose and throat 1. The humidity helps relieve dry mouth and congested nose too and allows you to breathe through your nose, which helps you sleep better.

Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated internally helps relieve congestion and alleviate pressure from plugged ears 1.

Place a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your plugged ear and tilt your head to the side to keep the liquid in the ear for several minutes. You will hear bubbling. This may help clear some of the clogging in your ear and help you sleep.


Over the counter decongestants work for some types of ear congestion but not others. Your doctor or pharmacist can recommend something that will work for your specific type of plugged ear.


Never stick anything inside your ears to relieve pressure in an attempt to unplug them.