How to sleep soundly with a cough

Can't get to sleep because of an annoying cough? Here are some of the best ways to drop off when you're feeling ill.


by Lorna White |

When you’ve been battling the symptoms of a cough and cold all day, all you want to do come night time is crawl into bed and get a good night’s sleep in the hope that your symptoms will have miraculously disappeared when you wake up.

However, in reality most of us are kept awake half the night spluttering and sniffing with an irritating cough, or a stuffy congested nose, often leaving you - and your partner - feeling much worse come morning!

Sound like you? Here's Professor Alyn Morice, cough expert and Head of Cardiorespiratory Studies at Hull York Medical School, top tips on how to sleep with a cough.

Tips for a wet cough

Take a hot shower or bath before bed

Not only will it help you to relax, but the steam will help loosen the mucus and relieve congestion from your nose and chest. Breathe in the steam slowly for a few minutes then try coughing or blowing your nose to break up the mucus.

Try a warm drink

A nice hot beverage can help soothe your throat after all that coughing plus can loosen up mucus too. Try warm water with honey and lemon or a herbal tea. Aim to drink it an hour before you're planning to lseep.

Tips for a dry cough

Take a cough suppressant

This will help reduce the urge to cough throughout the night as it prevents coughing by blocking your cough reflex

Stay hydrated

Make sure you keep hydrated throughout the day by regularly sipping water, which will soothe the cough reflex and also help with a sore throat.

Pick up some lozenges

Lozenges are easy to get hold of and come in a variety of different flavours. Many contain menthol to open up your sinuses while others contain vitamin C to soothe. Just be sure to finish it before you lie down to sleep.

woman coughing

Tips for a ticklish cough

Wash the bedding

Dust mites, pet hair and other allergens lurk on your bedding, and if you suffer with allergies, they could add to the irritation on your respiratory tract. Make sure you wash your bedding at least once a week in hot water.

Control the humidity level

A humidifier can help you to breathe easier when you’re congested and can also stop your throat from becoming too dry while you sleep. Try and keep humidity levels at 50 per cent to stop the air from becoming too damp.

General cough tips

Prepare your bedside

The last thing you want to be doing in the middle of the night is fumbling around in the kitchen cupboard trying to find some medicine. Make sure you have some water, tissues and cough medicine on your bedside table to help soothe the cough if it starts to irritate you.

And relax...

When you’re feeling under the weather, a comfy bed, blankets and a dark room will help you sleep better. Make sure you put your phone and laptop away a good couple of hours before you go to bed to help you unwind, and avoid caffeine after 3pm.

Drink honey and lemon

This is a quick and easy homemade drink that has a similar effect to cough medicines. The NHS suggests adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey to a mug of boiled water, along with half a squeezed lemon.

honey and lemon

Sleep positions to stop cough

Sleep on an incline – All the mucus that builds up in your nose or throat while you lay down irritates your throat, so pop some extra pillows under your head and let gravity do its job.

Avoid laying on your back – Although sleeping on your back allows your lungs to breathe and expand, it can also make snoring much worse – especially if you’re congested! Try sleeping on your side to avoid your partner angrily waking you up in the middle of the night.

When to see a doctor for a cough

Usually a cough isn't anything to worry about and will clear up on its own. However, if your symptoms persist for more than 3 weeks you should seek medical advice as it could be a sign of something more serious.

The best products to help you sleep better with a cough

Professional Facial Steamer for Cold Flu

Professional Facial Steamer for Cold Flu

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Not only does this steamer work for opening pores and a good facial, but it's also great for those days when you have a really stuffy nose!

Kleenex Ultra Soft Facial Tissues

Kleenex Ultra Soft Facial Tissues

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There's nothing worse than a sore nose when you have a cold, that's why it's important to make sure you've always got a good supply of super soft tissues close to you at all times.

Covonia Chesty Cough Mixture Syrup

Covonia Chesty Cough Mixture Syrup

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As recommended by Professor Morice, this cough syrup might help ease your cough during the night!

ASAKUKI 300ml Essential Oil Diffuser

ASAKUKI 300ml Essential Oil Diffuser

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Humidifiers can help you sleep easier and breath better during the night. With this super stylish one, you can also add your favourite essential oils too!

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