Why Does Cough Get Worse at Night? Understanding Causes and Solutions


Do you ever find yourself up all night, coughing and unable to catch a break? Nighttime coughing is a common occurrence, often caused by underlying health issues. While it’s tempting to ignore the cough, treating its root cause can help you sleep better and feel more rested during the day. In this article, we will explore why coughs tend to get worse at night, their common causes, and discuss various remedies and lifestyle changes to help you alleviate your symptoms.

What Causes Coughing at Night and How to Treat It

Coughing, whether during the day or night, usually stems from conditions like allergies, infections, and irritation in your throat. At night, coughing can be caused by many factors. These include allergies, asthma, post-nasal drip, acid reflux, and more. Treating nighttime coughing requires understanding the root cause and targeting it directly. For example, allergies can be treated with antihistamines, while acid reflux can be treated with acid-reducing medications.

The Science Behind Why Your Cough Gets Worse When You Lie Down

Gravity plays a significant role in why coughs worsen when you lie in bed. When you’re standing or sitting, your airways drain mucus from your throat, and this reduces coughing. Whereas, when you’re lying down, your airways become congested with mucus, making it harder to breathe and increases coughing. Postnasal drip, where mucus flows down the back of your throat and into the lungs, can also irritate and worsen coughing. Acid reflux causes stomach acids to flow back into the throat, causing irritation and inflammation that exacerbates coughing.

5 Tips to Relieve Nighttime Coughing

1. Increase Humidity
If you have a dry cough, it may help to increase the humidity in your sleep environment. This can be achieved by using a humidifier or letting hot water run for a few minutes in the shower.

2. Elevate Your Head
Raising your head with pillows or sleeping in a more upright position can help reduce mucus pooling in your throat. This can ease coughing and improve breathing.

3. Get Adequate Rest
Stress and exhaustion can exacerbate symptoms, so it’s essential to get adequate rest and sleep.

4. Sip on Warm Liquids
Drinking warm liquids, such as tea or soup, can help soothe your throat and alleviate coughing.

5. Avoid Triggers
If your cough is caused by allergies, avoiding triggers such as dust, pollen, and pet dander, can help prevent symptoms from worsening.

Why Nighttime Coughs Can Be More Severe Than Daytime Coughs

Coughing in bed can reduce your sleep quality and cause exhaustion. Without proper sleep, your body’s immune system may become weaker, increasing the chance of illness. When you’re standing up or sitting during the day, coughing stimulates the throat by being actively cleared with each cough. At night, we aren’t as active, so mucus accumulates, leading to increased coughing.

 How Your Sleeping Position Can Affect Your Cough
How Your Sleeping Position Can Affect Your Cough

How Your Sleeping Position Can Affect Your Cough

Adjusting your sleeping position can improve your coughing symptoms. Sleeping on your back can worsen postnasal drip coughs, while sleeping on your side can alleviate the irritation from acid reflux. Sleeping with your head elevated can help reduce mucus from the throat.

The Role of Allergies and Asthma in Nighttime Coughing

Allergies and asthma can trigger nighttime coughing. Allergies can cause inflammation and irritation in the nose and throat, leading to increased mucus production. Asthma symptoms worsen during sleep, making nighttime coughs common. The best way to manage coughing symptoms related to allergies or asthma is to identify and manage triggers.

Why Coughing at Night Could Indicate a More Serious Illness – What Should You Do?

Persistent coughing for more than eight weeks is classified as a chronic cough and could indicate underlying medical conditions such as asthma, COPD, or bronchitis. It is advisable to seek medical attention if your nighttime coughing persists despite taking preventive measures. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and prescribe proper treatment.


Nighttime coughing can often be attributed to allergy, reflux, or postnasal drip. Once you identify what’s causing your coughing, you can take preventive measures to manage it. Ensuring that you get enough rest, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and avoiding triggers can all help alleviate nighttime coughing. Remember to seek medical attention if your cough persists despite preventive measures, as it may be an indication of a more serious underlying condition.

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