I don’t know about you, but when my sinuses are bothering me it’s tough to fall asleep. You lay your head back and it almost feels like you are drowning. Plus, there’s all that pressure in your head. Even propped up, you know you’ll just be waking up in a little while, coughing up the post-nasal drip! What can you do to get some rest? Here are four tips to help you sleep a little easier.
1. While sinus issues and allergies are not caused by the same sources, you can relieve some of your congestion by limiting the amount of allergens that enter the room you sleep in – this means keeping pets out of the bedroom, using an air filter, and laundering bed sheets regularly. Eliminating the added problem of potential allergens may well help contribute to better sleep.
2. Sinus rinses and nasal sprays may also help you sleep better. Sinus rinses, such as those that require a neti pot, use a saline solution to rinse out the sinus area. Doing this before bed can help you to be less congested when you lie down for sleep. The solution is sold in packets – alternatively, research online to find out how to make your own solution at home. Either way, be sure to follow any product instructions and warnings. Saline nasal sprays can produce a similar effect without being as invasive, but are often more expensive and require a prescription.
3. Some doctors recommend sleeping on your side – this will help with the uncomfortable feeling of post-nasal drip, and may make it less likely that you’ll wake up with a sore throat, although be careful if you’re susceptible to ear infections, as this can cause fluid to run to one side.
Your environment is important, even more so than the position you sleep in – it’s therefore vital there is nothing to keep you up or wake you, like lights, a TV, or your cell phone. Once awakened you may have trouble getting back to sleep. Try charging your phone in another room at night so that even the vibrations won’t interrupt your sleep.
4.Make adjustments to your lifestyle that makes sleeping easier in general – having a set time for bed will help you fall asleep faster, and don’t have big meals, caffeine or alcohol right before lying down for sleep. Be sure to get plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods, and maintain a healthy weight. Room temperature is important too -much below 68 or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit will make it tougher to fall and stay asleep.
You’ll notice that many of these are simply good general sleep habits to be in – often times the key to falling asleep with sinus problems is falling asleep quickly and not being awakened till morning. Some things like rinses and sprays can provide temporary relief from symptoms, assisting in the ‘getting to sleep’ department. After that it is up to you to create an environment that is conducive to staying asleep throughout the night. Once you’re feeling well rested, you’ll be glad to have made any lifestyle changes that may have been involved.
By Eric Cohen, MD