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How to Stop Coughing: Sleep Positions and Tips

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Update: May 17, 2023
5 min read

Written by

Rahul Upadhyay
Content Writer
Sleep Positions To Stop Coughing

The clock is already ticking. It’s a work day tomorrow, and you cannot afford to get up late. But every time you drift off, you start coughing, disrupting your sleep! It can be super frustrating, right?

Nighttime cough can be the villain who is out there to interrupt your good night’s rest. But we are here with solutions and not to simply talk about the problem. This article will tell you about the best sleep positions to stop coughing. So, nothing can come in between you and your sleep, not even a cough! Read ahead. 

What Could Cause a Nighttime Cough?

Coughing occurs when your body tries to eliminate invaders of your lungs and airways. It is like a reflex action that can occur due to dust, smoke, pollution, or other irritants. They are also caused due to viral or respiratory infections, such as pneumonia or whooping cough. 

When these invaders infect your system, it leads to inflammation and thickens the body’s natural mucus. Some other causes of cough include;

  • Medications
  • Heart failure 
  • Sleep apnea
  • Lung disease 
  • Gastrointestinal reflux disease 
  • Damage to your vocal cords 
  • Infections of the airways 

If you are a smoker and coughing, the two common reasons are chronic bronchitis or emphysema. This occurs when the tissues of the lungs are getting destroyed.

How Does a Cold Affect Your Sleep?

A cough is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a stuffy nose or headaches, which can make it excessively difficult for you to achieve a comfortable position and go to sleep. You may also suffer from pains or aches that add to the discomfort.

Sleep Positions to Stop Coughing

Let’s look at how to sleep with a cough and the best sleep positions to stop coughing at night!

Elevate Your Head 

When you lie down on your back or side, the mucus can get pooled in your throat, which leads to a cough. Therefore, keep your head elevated as you sleep. It is one of the best positions to sleep with a cough. For this, you can use more than one pillow. That being said, don’t make the elevation too high, leading to neck discomfort. 

Discourage breathing through the mouth

Breathing through your mouth will irritate the throat’s lining and even dry out the mucosal passage. And if you don’t slightly elevate your head, there are chances that you may keep your mouth open due to gravity. 

Stop post-nasal drip

If you are using a post-nasal drip, there are chances that it may lead to coughing due to the tingling sensation it causes. Therefore, even if you are using one, keeping your head elevated will ensure that it doesn’t cause discomfort in the throat. 

Relieve symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a term used to describe chronic disorders like bronchitis and emphysema. So, when there is a COPD flare-up, it can make it difficult for you to breathe as it flattens the diaphragm. So, the inclination of the head can help you sleep. 

Lie on Your Side

If you are dealing with a nasty cough, sleeping on your side can be an excellent position to sleep in to stop coughing. It also offers the comfort you need because when coughing episodes hit you, side-sleeping makes it easier to tackle them and won’t put too much strain on other parts of your body. It can also be a soothing baby sleep position to stop coughing when your child suffers from a cold or flu. 

The best position to sleep with a cold and cough is on your back with an inclination or your side. It is essential to avoid sleeping on your stomach as it can put too much pressure and can lead to discomfort. 

8 Tips To Sleep With a Cough

If you are looking for ways how to stop coughing at night, take a look at the below tips for some relief. 

1. Consume Honey

Taking about 1 ½ teaspoons of honey could be extremely helpful to combat your cough, especially in children. However, if you’re diabetic, it is best to avoid honey for cough.

2. Try Cough Medicine

You can always try an over-the-counter cough medicine for some immediate relief if your cough is too much. However, ensure you take only the required dosage as cough syrup can make you sleepy. Also, it must be administered only after driving or operating any important machinery. 
Also, COVID coughs are worse at night. Therefore, taking some cough medicine can help you out if it is getting too much.

3. Try a Nasal Decongestant

Nasal decongestants help clear the airways and make it easier to breathe easily. It also makes it easier for you to cough up all the phlegm.

4. Drink a Warm Liquid

When you suffer from a bad cough, drinking warm liquid can feel very soothing and help you loosen up the mucus. You can drink warm water, herbal teas, hot broth, and more.

5. Use a Humidifier

If the air is too dry, it can irritate the throat and you may end up having coughing fits. Also, never over-dampen the air as mould and dust mites thrive in the damp air. But a humidifier can help you out by combating the dry air. This is how to sleep with a dry cough.

6. Keep The Bedding Clean

Did you know? It is essential to wash your sheets, mattress cover, pillowcase, and even blanket in hot water every once a week. This is especially important if you have a pet or are allergic to pet dander, as it will control coughs. 

7. Take A Shower

A hot shower can be beneficial as the steam can help loosen the mucus and clear the airways. You can also try inhaling steam if you are not up for a shower.

8. Essential oils

Essential oils, such as anise, eucalyptus, and peppermint can be beneficial to treat cough or other upper respiratory infections. You can inhale a few drops of the oil to a steamer. However, it is best to check with your doctor as it may not be safe for all.

When to See A Doctor?

Usually, a cough gets better on its own or with the help of cough syrup in a week or two. However, if you notice any of the below signs, you must visit your doctor right away.

  • Your cough lasts for more than 3 weeks 
  • It started as a dry cough and now has turned wet 
  • The amount of phlegm has gone up since you started coughing 
  • You also have a fever, shortness of breath, and vomiting
  • You are wheezing 
  • You notice swollen ankles 

You need immediate medical attention if you have a cough and;

  • You have coughed up blood or pinkish mucus
  • You are unable to breathe 
  • You have pain in the chest 

Sleeping with a cough can be tough. However, effective home remedies or treatment methods can reduce your discomfort when you can’t sleep because of a cough. You can also try OTC medications, such as cough syrup, for relief. But even after weeks, if your cough hasn’t subsided, you must visit a doctor. 


Does lying on your back make a cough worse?

Lying on your back flat can worsen your cough. However, if you want to sleep on your back, use pillows to elevate your head to reduce coughing when asleep.

How can I stop a constant cough at night?

If you have a continuous coughing fit at night, try drinking herbal tea or some hot liquid or you can try some honey. However, if these remedies are not working, you can always take some cough syrup for some relief.

How do I stop a tickly cough at night?

You can drink hot liquids to help stop a tricky cough at night. You can also try this with other remedies or medications.

Can’t sleep because of coughing?

A warm beverage is all you need to soothe your throat.

Why can’t I stop coughing when I lay down?

Coughing can be worse when you lay down because you may be lying on your back and this can cause mucus to accumulate in your throat. Therefore, make sure you keep your head slightly elevated.


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Written by

Rahul Upadhyay
Content Writer
10 years of experience as a content writer Previously worked as a copywriter for a health journal Ability to write in a variety of formats, including articles, white papers, and clinical trial summaries

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