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Does a Cough or Stuffy Nose Wake You up at Night?

There’s nothing quite like waking up feeling cozy, in bed, and well rested from a good night’s sleep. With the early morning sun slowly streaming in, and a comforter enveloping you, it’s a restorative feeling, making you feel like you can tackle the day ahead.

But if you toss and turn all night or wake up at intervals from a nagging cough or a stuffy nose, it can be frustrating and draining, leaving you feeling fatigued, rather than restored. That exhaustion can seep into the rest of your day, from struggling to get out of bed in the morning—hitting the snooze button multiple times—to dragging through work. If you find yourself yawning throughout the day because you’re waking up during the night due to a cough or stuffy nose, you might suffer from allergies or asthma.

While most associate a cough or stuffy nose with cold symptoms, or even the flu, if your symptoms occur consistently and last longer than two weeks, there’s a good chance something more is going on.

Poorly treated or untreated allergies or asthma might be the culprit. Many people don’t realize that fatigue is a common symptom of these conditions. Let’s take a brief look at why these allergies and asthma may be causing your exhaustion and some of the actions or treatments that may help you feel like yourself again.

Restricted Breathing at Night

Restricted airways, also referred to as asthma, is a condition where your lungs cannot push air out, making it harder to breathe in fresh air. For some, this can happen at night and can be referred to as nocturnal asthma. Scientists don’t know what causes nocturnal asthma but have pinpointed several potential triggers. Sleeping in a reclining position, for example, can restrict your airways or decrease lung volume, making it difficult to breathe. Dust or pet hairs on your bedcovers, under the bed, or coming from the air-conditioner can affect breathing. Even a cold room, particularly an air-conditioned one, may cool your airways and impair your lung function.

When you’re coughing, wheezing or otherwise struggling to breathe at night, your sleep gets disrupted, leaving you tired and unfocused the next day. To make matters worse, when your breathing is restricted, you aren’t receiving enough oxygen in your bloodstream, which increases feelings of exhaustion.

Given that nocturnal asthma is a vital concern, you should see an allergist to identify your triggers. Once you identify your triggers, the proper medication can be very helpful. Sometimes even slight changes can alleviate symptoms such as sleeping upright or with support under your upper back to reduce restriction to your airways and clearing your bedroom of allergens.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic Rhinitis, is an allergic response to certain allergens, such as pollen, insects, grass, animal dander, mold or mildew. Such items are usually harmless, but if you’re sensitive to them, your immune system releases certain chemicals, some of which are called histamines, to attack the allergens, as if they are invading bacteria or viruses. These chemicals trigger the inflammation that gives you itchy eyes or a stuffy nose that keeps you up at night.  As the nasal congestion persists, sinus disease and post nasal drip develop causing coughing that will disrupt your sleep.

You can best reduce allergy-induced symptoms of fatigue by avoiding the allergen. A visit with the allergist will identify those allergic triggers, provide helpful tips to avoid those triggers and develop a treatment plan that will help you get a good night’s sleep.

OTC Medications

Many allergy suffers understandably reach for over-the-counter medications to relieve some of their symptoms. While these medicines may reduce the inflammation that makes your nose stuffy or eyes itch, it can make your fatigue symptoms even worse. According to, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine, and meclizine can make you feel tired.

If you find that your allergy medication is adding to your fatigue, talk to an allergist about switching to a different form of treatment, such as a nasal spray or non-drowsy antihistamine. That way you can get back to feel rested and ready to tackle whatever the day throws your way.

Allergy & Asthma Specialists can help you identify the triggers for your allergy or asthma problems and provide proper treatment. For more information, visit them online. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-86-COUGH, or book online by clicking here.

To schedule a visit with the board-certified allergists/immunologists of A&AS at one of the eight convenient locations, call 1-800-86COUGH, extension 2, or schedule online at

Learn more about the Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM here.

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