What can really feel extra irritating than having a cough? Having a cough that occurs extra usually or will get worse at night time. It impacts how a lot you possibly can calm down, fall and keep asleep, and get much-needed relaxation for restoration. 

“Throughout sleep, the physique regulates our manufacturing of cytokines, signaling proteins our immune methods produce to combat off invading pathogens corresponding to viruses and micro organism,” says Vontrelle Roundtree, MD, affiliate chief medical officer at MDLIVE of Evernorth. “When you’ve got a nagging cough that causes you to get up usually all through the night time, it compromises sleep high quality, probably affecting your physique’s cytokine regulation and making it tough on your immune system to fight and recuperate from illness.”

Not solely does coughing have an effect on your skill to recover from any diseases that will trigger the cough, however it could additionally trigger you to have extra signs that additional have an effect on your nighttime relaxation. “Coughing may additionally trigger dry throat and mouth, postnasal drip, and bodily discomfort that makes for a less-than-peaceful sleep expertise,” Roundtree says. 


Nighttime coughing can occur and really feel worse for a lot of causes. It might be as a consequence of issues together with your lungs and airways, corresponding to an infection, postnasal drip, allergy symptoms, and bronchial asthma. These could cause coughs that worsen at night time, says Samuel Mathis, MD, assistant professor within the Division of Household Drugs at College of Texas Medical Department. As an example, “with lung infections, mendacity down helps the cilia [little ‘hairs’ in our lungs] to extra successfully transfer mucus out of the lungs, and the cough reflex is our physique’s try to eliminate the surplus mucus,” he says. 

Roundtree says that “shifting round through the day makes it simpler for the physique to loosen trapped mucus. Once we lie all the way down to relaxation at night time, this place could make it more difficult for our our bodies to naturally clear this mucus, leading to what we name postnasal drip — nasal secretions that pool behind the throat and trigger these pesky coughs.” 

Nighttime coughs may additionally be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux illness (GERD) or acid reflux disorder. “GERD occurs when abdomen acid flows again into the esophagus, irritating its lining and probably reaching the again of your throat,” Roundtree says. “The act of mendacity down could cause the reflux to worsen, after which, after all, you could cough extra,” says Sarah McBane, PharmD, affiliate dean of pharmacy training on the College of California, Irvine Faculty of Pharmacy. 

“To fight nighttime cough as a consequence of GERD, elevate your physique at an incline to forestall the pooling of mucus, permitting for a extra peaceable and fewer interrupted night time’s sleep,” she says. 

Different situations that may trigger coughing matches embrace coronary heart failure and sleep apnea, Mathis says. 

You may additionally have a nighttime cough while you’re taking medicines corresponding to ACE inhibitors for hypertension. These are recognized to have a dry cough as a aspect impact, Mathis says. 

Our physique’s circadian rhythm, the interior clock that helps handle necessary physique features (together with sleep and immune response), may additionally play a job, Roundtree says. “Some components of immune operate are extra lively through the nighttime and into the early morning, which explains why you may really feel your worst throughout these hours. Whereas this pure response helps combat off the micro organism making you sick, it could additionally trigger lots of our sick signs throughout that point, corresponding to congestion, fever, and elevated nighttime coughing.”

The way you handle your nighttime cough will depend on how severe it’s and what’s inflicting it, Roundtreee says. She advises seeing a health care provider in case your cough is fixed, very unhealthy, and comes with different regarding signs.

Within the meantime, you possibly can do that knowledgeable recommendation for managing gentle coughs at night time:

  1. Keep hydrated. This can assist loosen mucus and make it simpler to eliminate, Roundtree says. Be sure to are offering your physique with loads of fluids.  You are able to do this by ingesting water as usually as wanted and consuming water-rich meals like melons, pineapples, strawberries, and oranges. 
  2. Drink natural tea with honey and lemon. Mathis recommends teas for cough as a consequence of higher respiratory infections, allergy symptoms, and postnasal drip. “A easy treatment that is very efficient for coughing is a nighttime natural tea with honey and lemon,” Mathis says. “Honey helps coat the throat and forestall irritation and the cough reflex. The lemon has anti-inflammatory qualities that will assist cough.”  It’s also possible to strive different sizzling teas since they might be useful to appease an irritated throat, Roundtree says. 
  3. Take honey. It’s a pure cough suppressant that helps scale back how usually you cough and the way severe the coughing is, Roundtree says. “Contemplate pure or regionally grown honey as a bonus,” she says. 
  4. Cough drops. These are useful short-term fixes for soothing an irritated throat and stopping a cussed, hacking cough, Roundtree says. “They trigger the mouth to provide extra saliva, thus coating the throat and serving to with itching sensations.”
  5. Have a steamy bathe. Steam from showers provides moisture to the air, which can assist open your airways and loosen up secretions within the nostril, Roundtree says. Take a steamy bathe earlier than bedtime to alleviate your cough and assist your physique calm down for a greater night time’s sleep. 
  6. Take into consideration what and while you eat. If the nighttime cough is because of GERD, McBane recommends avoiding heavy, spicy, fatty, and late-night meals as a result of they might make your GERD signs worse and trigger nighttime coughing. Meals excessive in fiber, water, and alkaline can enhance your signs. So think about consuming these as an alternative a minimum of 3 hours earlier than bedtime. These meals embrace bananas, brown rice, candy potatoes, broccoli, watermelon, carrots, cucumber, pineapple, and brothy soups. 
  7. Attempt OTC medicines for GERD. “Some OTC treatment choices embrace antacids like Tums or medicines that block the manufacturing of acid like famotidine (Pepcid) or omeprazole (Prilosec),” McBane says. “These medicines can assist with the reflux-related nighttime cough by reducing the quantity of acid irritating the throat and inflicting the cough.” 
  8. Take an antihistamine. Antihistamine medicines, which assist with allergy symptoms, could also be helpful for nighttime cough as a consequence of postnasal drip. McBane suggests taking an antihistamine like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin). She provides that they can assist with postnasal drip-related cough by drying up nasal mucus, that means there will likely be much less fluid to gather behind your throat and irritate the tissues there.
  9. Lie together with your head raised. In case your cough is brought on by GERD, one of many best treatments is to boost the top of your mattress by 4-6 inches, Mathis says. “Only a slight tilt is sufficient to let gravity maintain the abdomen acid within the abdomen.” McBane suggests elevating the top of your mattress utilizing bricks or blocks. 
  10. Use a humidifier. “If the cough is because of dry air, think about a humidifier. Attempt to maintain humidity at 40% to 50%,” Mathis says. “Any greater than that would make your cough worse or enhance your threat of an infection.”
  11. Scale back allergens in your house. In case your coughing is because of allergy symptoms, reducing down the variety of allergens round you could assist forestall it. An incredible tip is to scrub and dirt your house recurrently to forestall mud buildup, Mathis says. It’s also possible to put money into a HEPA filter to eliminate allergens within the air. When you’ve got pets, have them sleep exterior of your bed room. Wash your bedding recurrently, too. 
  12. Contemplate over-the-counter (OTC) treatment. When all else fails, an over-the-counter cough drugs can present aid, Roundtree says. “One which incorporates dextromethorphan can be finest to dam the cough reflex, whereas one containing pseudoephedrine can assist cease elevated nighttime postnasal drip.” Nonetheless, she advises speaking with a well being care skilled earlier than beginning any treatment.

If the following pointers don’t assist together with your cough, or if the cough lasts greater than a few weeks, McBane advises seeing a health care provider.

Roundtree additionally recommends seeing a health care provider in case your cough lasts over just a few days and you’ve got different signs like chest ache, nausea, wheezing, or excessive fever. Mathis agrees, saying that in case you cough up blood, have shortness of breath, and your legs or ft swell, try to be checked by a health care provider. “They can assist you establish the reason for your cough and deal with the underlying subject.” 

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