If you suffer from sinus pain and congestion, you may find that your symptoms worsen at night. This can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep, which in turn can detrimentally impact both overall wellness and quality of life. Here’s a closer look at why sinus infections often flare up in the evening hours, along with tips for addressing the problem.

Your Sinuses and Sleep

A sinus infection, AKA sinusitis, occurs when the tissue lining the sinuses becomes inflamed. Unlike healthy sinuses which are filled with air, infected sinuses are unable to clear and may become blocked. They then become a breeding ground for germs, often resulting in uncomfortable and painful sinus infections. Several conditions are linked with sinus blockage, including the common cold, allergies, nasal polyps and deviated septa.

Millions of Americans suffer from sinusitis with symptoms including facial pain or pressure, a runny or “stuffed up” nose, loss of smell, cough, and congestion. Other symptoms may include fever, bad breath, fatigue and dental pain.

While sinusitis is never pleasant, its symptoms can be worse at night for several reasons. For starters, allergies tend to be worse at night in general. And then there’s the fact that when you lie down, fluids no longer drain as they do when you’re standing or sitting. This can result in increased discomfort.

Manage Your Sinusitis to Sleep Better

The good news? There are some things you can do to alleviate sinus congestion and sleep better, including the following:

  • Taking an antihistamine in bed can help control allergy symptoms, like sneezing and runny nose. Antihistamines can also make you drowsy further helping you to fall asleep. If you use a nasal spray to manage your allergy symptoms during the daytime, it can also be used at night.
  • If your sinusitis is caused by allergens, reducing your exposure can reduce your symptoms. Keep your sleeping space free of all allergens by making it a pet-free zone. Additionally, consider investing in dust-proof bedding to further minimize your exposure to allergens.
  • Congestion occurs when your nasal passages don’t clear. “Mucus pools in your sinuses at night when your head is down, so have your head propped up during sleep,” advise the experts at Harvard Medical School.
  • Not only is it a myth that a nightcap before bed can make you sleepy, but alcohol is also linked with increased congestion. Plus, it can cause dehydration, another factor which can aggravate sinus issues. Refraining from drinking alcohol before bed eliminates both of these issues. The same applies for caffeine, which is a stimulant. The takeaway? Stick with water and decaffeinated beverages in the hours leading up to bedtime.
  • Adopting best practices for sleep hygiene is advisable for everyone, but can be especially helpful for people suffering from sinusitis. Keeping your bedroom cool and dark; maintaining regular sleeping and waking times; reserving your bedroom only for sleep-related activities; and avoiding stressful activities before bed can all support better sleep.

Additionally, several other strategies can help keep sinusitis at bay — day or night.

Despite your best efforts, sinus pain and congestion caused by sinusitis may continue to disrupt your sleep. In this case, it may require more aggressive treatment, such as cutting-edge, minimally invasive balloon sinuplasty. To learn more about your options, schedule an appointment with one of the American Sinus Institute’s Board Certified otolaryngologists today.