What to do if you wake up in the middle of the night with a stuffy nose

Almost nothing is more frustrating than waking up in the middle of the night congested (from a cold or nasal allergies). Not only does it make falling back asleep difficult but taking a nighttime nasal congestion medicine at two or three in the morning (interrupting your sleep!) may result in some real sleepiness the next day!

If you’re looking for some remedies to help ease nasal congestion that are drug-free and won’t result in you feeling like a zombie at work the next morning, check out the tips below. And remember, if your nasal congestion is more than just occasional, you may want to talk with your doctor about possible causes and solutions!

How to ease a stuffy nose in the middle of the night

Rinse with a neti pot

Neti pots are drug-free nasal irrigation systems that use salt water (or saline) to clear out clogged nasal passages. They look a little strange, and may take some practice (you’re basically pouring water through your nose, which can feel awkward at first), but when used properly, neti pots can clear the nose of bacteria, allergens, and mucus. Just make sure that you’re always using sterilized water (not tap!) and follow the directions on the package carefully. Improper use of neti pots can increase risk of infection.

Drink water or brew some decaffeinated tea

If your stuffy nose is from a cold or allergies, hydration can help thin out mucus. Plus, certain teas like chamomile may help you fall asleep and can be helpful if you don’t really feel like starting your day at 2 a.m.!

Apply a Breathe Right strip

If you wake up in the middle of the night and feel nasal congestion but don’t want to deal with a hot kettle or prepping a neti pot, reach across your nightstand and grab a Breathe Right® strip. Easy to apply, drug-free, and effective, Breathe Right strips open your nose up 38 percent more—when combined with nasal decongestants versus using them alone—to relieve snoring and nighttime nasal congestion due to colds and allergies. Apply, lie back, close your eyes, and breathe better!

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Take a hot shower before bed

While this isn’t something to do if you wake up in the middle of the night, it’s a proactive way to help prevent exactly that from happening. Inhaling steam from a hot shower may help ease nasal congestion caused by a cold, thereby lessening the chance you’ll wake up with a stuffy nose later.

Try some mindful meditation

There is evidence that suggests mindfulness meditation (which is a practice that involves breathing and present moment awareness) may help with sleep and relaxation. While this meditation won’t do anything to ease the physical sensation of a stuffy nose, it may help quiet your mind of all those middle-of-the-night anxieties that can often keep people awake.