Waking Up With a Stuffy Nose: Common Causes and How to Fix It

Do you find yourself waking up to a blocked nose and looking for clues behind the cause? Sometimes the reason might seem pretty obvious, like when you’re struggling with a cold or the flu, but other times it might feel like a mystery - especially if you’re going to bed congestion-free yet waking up with a stuffy nose.

In this article, we’ll be diving into the potential reasons behind why you’re waking up with a stuffy nose and exploring simple, effective ways to alleviate this discomfort and reclaim your mornings!


Why am I Waking Up With a Stuffy Nose?

Nasal congestion is very common, and can often be worsened at night since it’s harder for our sinuses to drain properly when we’re lying down. 

You also might find that you wake up with a sore, dry throat to accompany your blocked nose. This is usually from mouth breathing as a result of your congestion. You can learn more about the possible reasons for waking up with a sore throat ← in our in-depth guide.

Now, let’s take a look at what might be behind your stuffy nose in the morning:


Mouth Breathing

We all know a blocked nose can lead to mouth breathing, but did you know that mouth breathing could actually be one of the causes of nasal congestion? Yep!


If you have the subconscious habit of mouth breathing during sleep it might be contributing to your stuffy nose upon waking.


When you breathe through your mouth, you miss out on the positive effects that nasal breathing has on humidifying and warming the air in your nasal passages. (1)


This can lead to the tissues in your nasal passage becoming dry, causing irritation and inflammation, resulting in increased mucus production and congestion. 


Mouth breathing also alters the natural airflow and pressure in your nasal passages, which could worsen the congestion.


The best solution? Mouth Tape! By gently sealing your lips closed with Dream Recovery Mouth Tape before bed, you can stop mouth breathing in its tracks while enjoying the comfort of organic bamboo silk and hypoallergenic adhesive.






Try Dream Recovery Mouth Tape today and say goodbye to morning congestion.




Sinusitis, a condition resulting in inflammation in your sinus cavities, can contribute to waking up with a stuffy nose. 


Sinusitis might stem from an infection (either from a virus or bacteria), nasal polyps, or an allergy that causes your sinuses to swell and become blocked. 


Then, when your sinuses are blocked, mucus can’t drain effectively, resulting in congestion and stuffiness. 


Sinusitis might worsen during the night after you’ve been lying down, since having your head in a horizontal position can further limit the mucus draining properly from your sinuses.


Sinusitis can either be acute, typically lasting less than 4 weeks, and is often triggered by an infection like a cold, or, sinusitis might become chronic, meaning you’ve had long-term inflammation in your sinuses for over 12 weeks. (2)


Consequently, both acute and chronic sinusitis can result in a stuffy nose upon waking, often accompanied by discomfort and reduced nasal airflow.


Dry Air


Dry air in your sleeping environment can also contribute to waking up with a blocked nose in the mornings. 


When you breathe in air that lacks sufficient moisture it can cause the mucus membranes in your nose to become irritated.


In response to this irritation, your body might produce more mucus in an attempt to try and moisten these membranes and keep them healthy, however, this can lead to increased congestion, especially when you’re lying down. (3)


Respiratory Infections


It’s no surprise that coming down with the common cold, the flu, or another respiratory infection might cause you to wake up with a stuffy nose. 


When your body’s immune system responds to an infection, a series of immune cells and chemicals are released that can result in increased mucus production, as well as inflammation and swelling within your nasal passages. (4)


Your symptoms might also worsen while you’re asleep, since levels of the hormone cortisol drop, which can signal your immune cells to become more active, provoking symptoms like congestion, fever, and sweating. 




If you’re someone who struggles with allergies, they could be behind the reason you’re waking up with a stuffy nose. 


When you’re exposed to potential allergens like pollen, mold spores, pet dander, artificial fragrances, chemicals, cigarette smoke, and dust mites, your body might have a reaction that results in the release of chemicals like histamine. 


Histamine can cause inflammation and swelling within your nasal passages, which can result in excess mucus production and congestion. This can make your nose feel blocked when you wake up, especially if there are high amounts of these allergens in your bedroom. (5)


If you’re struggling with nasal congestion and inflammation as a result of allergies, this is sometimes called allergic rhinitis. 


Other allergy symptoms you might experience alongside a stuffy, runny nose might include:


  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Coughing 
  • Sneezing 
  • Fatigue

Medications That Cause Nasal Congestion


It’s important to know that certain medications can also cause nasal congestion, especially if you’re taking them at night time. These may include:


  • Medications for high blood pressure, like beta-blockers
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen
  • Immunosuppressant drugs like cyclosporine
  • Psychiatric medications like sedatives or anti-depressants


Additionally, if nasal decongestant sprays are used too regularly and over a prolonged period, it can have a rebound effect known as rhinitis medicamentosa.


Rhinitis medicamentosa is characterized by worsening nasal congestion once the medication's effects wear off, often resulting in severe stuffiness upon awakening. This can create a cycle of dependency on nasal sprays in order to find relief. (6)


6 Fixes to Stop Your Morning Congestion 


Mouth Tape

If you’re morning stuffiness is a result of mouth breathing, mouth tape is the perfect solution to offer relief.


This innovative new practice involves safely placing specially designed tape over your lips at night to keep your mouth closed while sleeping. 


Doing so promotes nasal breathing (which is your body’s natural way of breathing) which helps to maintain optimal humidity within your nasal passages, keeping them healthy and free from the inflammation and dryness that might lead to increased congestion. 


It's important to use a high-quality mouth tape that is specifically made for this specific purpose, such as Dream Recovery Mouth Tape. 


Thanks to the use of luxurious organic bamboo silk, and a gentle but sturdy hypoallergenic adhesive, Dream Recovery Mouth Tape is the most comfortable, effective, and eco-friendly mouth tape on the market. 

Try Dream Recovery Mouth Tape today.





Please Note: If you are unsure if mouth taping is safe for you and you are unable to breathe through your nose, please consult with your healthcare practitioner or an ENT specialist first.


Manage Allergies

The number one way to address morning stuffiness caused by allergies is to first find out what you’re allergic to, and then minimize your exposure to these allergens as much as possible. 

You might already know what you’re allergic to, but if not, consider getting allergen testing done by your healthcare provider.

Next, you’ll want to eliminate your exposure to these allergens as much as possible by creating an allergen-free bedroom environment.


You can do this by getting hypoallergenic bedding and pillows, using an air purifier, keeping your windows shut when there is a high pollen count, and washing your sheets regularly in hot water. 


Also, if you know it’s your pet you're allergic to, try to make your bedroom a pet-free zone and wash your furry friend regularly to reduce pet dander.


Over-the-counter antihistamines or nasal corticosteroids may be effective in reducing inflammation and congestion but should be used sparingly.

Humidify the Air

Using a humidifier in your bedroom is a simple and effective solution to alleviate morning congestion caused by dry air.


The added moisture from a humidifier can help to keep your nasal passages lubricated and lessen the irritation that might lead to swelling and excess mucus production. 


You can usually set the level of humidity you’re aiming for on your humidifier. It’s suggested to aim for an indoor humidity level of between 40% and 60% and to ensure that you regularly clean the machine to avoid the growth of mold (which could further irritate your nasal passages!).


If a humidifier is out of your budget right now, hanging wet towels in your bedroom can also increase humidity as the water evaporates from the fabric, offering relief from dry air. 

Treat Sinusitis

The cause of your sinusitis will determine the best fix. Treatments usually involve reducing sinus inflammation and supporting proper mucus drainage.


This can involve the use of saline nasal sprays or rinses to flush out irritants and mucus, decongestants to reduce swelling, or nasal corticosteroids to control inflammation. 


Also, practices like steam inhalation, or applying warm compresses over the sinus areas can help ease congestion.


If a bacterial infection is behind your sinusitis, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics to clear it up. 

Adjust Medications


If you suspect that certain medications might be contributing to morning congestion, you can discuss alternatives with your healthcare provider. 


It might be possible to switch to another medication with the same mechanism of action, that does not have congestion as a side effect. 


In cases of rhinitis medicamentosa due to overuse of nasal decongestant sprays, stopping the medication under medical guidance is necessary to break the cycle of congestion and dependency on nasal sprays. 


Your doctor might recommend a very gradual withdrawal of your nasal spray and the use of saline solutions or steroid nasal sprays to manage symptoms during the uncomfortable withdrawal period.


Good Sleep Hygiene To Prevent a Stuffy Nose


Optimizing your sleeping environment and the position in which you sleep can significantly reduce morning stuffiness and congestion, and even improve your overall sleep quality.


For instance, sleeping with your head elevated can enhance sinus drainage, preventing mucus from pooling in your nasal passages.


You might find that an elevated sleep position feels uncomfortable or unnatural at first, but with time you should adjust. Something known as a “wedge pillow” with a gradual incline can help to promote healthy sinus drainage without causing neck pain.




Is it normal to have a stuffy nose when sleeping?

It is common to have a stuffy nose when you’re sleeping, but it usually indicates something needs your attention. A stuffy nose may occur when sleeping due to mouth breathing, allergies, sinusitis, respiratory infections, or even certain medications.


How do you unstuff your nose fast?

You can unstuff your nose fast by using nasal irrigation with saline solution, steam inhalation, or over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays. 


Final Thoughts On Morning Stuffiness

We all know that waking up with a stuffy nose can significantly disrupt your sleep quality and morning routine. 


The common issue of morning stuffiness may stem from factors like mouth breathing, sinusitis, dry air, allergies, certain medications, or respiratory infections. 


The great news is that practical solutions like mouth taping, using a humidifier, managing allergies, adjusting medications under the guidance of a health care professional, and improving sleep hygiene can help alleviate nasal congestion. 




Try Dream Recovery Mouth Tape today for healthier nasal breathing and less congested mornings.




  1. Morton, A. R., King, K., Papalia, S., Goodman, C., Turley, K. R., & Wilmore, J. H. (1995). Comparison of maximal oxygen consumption with oral and nasal breathing. Australian journal of science and medicine in sport, 27(3), 51–55.

  2. Kwon E, O'Rourke MC. Chronic Sinusitis. [Updated 2023 Aug 8]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441934/

  3. Huang, Y. R., Lou, H. F., & Zhang, L. (2018). Lin chuang er bi yan hou tou jing wai ke za zhi = Journal of clinical otorhinolaryngology, head, and neck surgery, 32(1), 71–76. https://doi.org/10.13201/j.issn.1001-1781.2018.01.015

  4. Newton, A. H., Cardani, A., & Braciale, T. J. (2016). The host immune response in respiratory virus infection: balancing virus clearance and immunopathology. Seminars in immunopathology, 38(4), 471–482. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00281-016-0558-0

  5. Naclerio R. M. (1990). The role of histamine in allergic rhinitis. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 86(4 Pt 2), 628–632. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0091-6749(05)80227-1

  6. Ramey, J. T., Bailen, E., & Lockey, R. F. (2006). Rhinitis medicamentosa. Journal of investigational allergology & clinical immunology, 16(3), 148–155.
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