Skip to content
This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff and is brought to you by Reckitt Benckiser.

When a cough keeps you awake, you want to get your sleep back on track as soon as possible.

Start by doing these five things:

  1. Shift your sleeping position. Propping yourself up may quiet your cough long enough to help you fall asleep. "Some people do well with a couple of pillows or sleeping in a recliner chair," says Brent A. Senior, MD. He is chair of the American Academy of Otolaryngology's rhinology and allergy education committee. "Try it for a couple of nights; it might be worthwhile."
  1. Drink tea. Hot drinks can soothe a cough. "If somebody feels that the air is dry, they could certainly try moistening their upper tract with hot tea, lemon juice, and honey," says Molly Cooke, MD, president of the American College of Physicians. Avoid caffeinated teas, which can keep you awake.
  1. Avoid moving air. If a ceiling fan, heater, or air conditioner blows toward your face while you're lying in bed, change that. Senior says his patients often say their coughing is worse when any air blows on them at night.
  1. Use a humidifier. These make the air moist, which may cut down on coughing. Cool-air humidifiers do that, and there's no hot steam that might be a burn risk. Clean the humidifier so mold doesn't sprout. "Make sure it doesn't have water in it that's been sitting there forever," Cooke says.
  1. Suck on a lozenge. Some cough drops use a numbing ingredient, such as benzocaine, which can calm down a cough long enough to help you fall asleep, Senior says.

What Could Cause a Nighttime Cough?

There are many reasons you could be coughing. "Cough is a really common symptom," Senior says.

If you have a cold, it could be postnasal drip. A decongestant may help.

If you're coughing up mucus, you may have an infection like bronchitis, whooping cough, or pneumonia.  So if you’re not getting better within a week, visit your doctor. Go sooner if you have a high fever plus other symptoms.

"If you're dealing with pneumonia, it's going to need medical intervention," says Aaron E. Glatt, MD, spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Mucinex

Mucinex® Provides All
Day Congestion Relief

One mucus busting pill. All
day chest congestion relief.
Only Mucinex® has a unique
bi-layer tablet that starts right
away and keeps working for
12 full hours.

Mucinex Fast Max Night Time

Mucinex® Fast-Max®
Night Time Cold &
Flu Relief

Mucinex® Fast-Max®Night
Time. Multi-symptom relief
plus a nasal decongestant.
Breathe easy. Sleep easy.

Previous Slide Next Slide
close

From Our Sponsor

Content under this heading is from or created on behalf of the named sponsor. This content is not subject to the WebMD Editorial Policy and is not reviewed by the WebMD Editorial department for accuracy, objectivity or balance.

All About the Flu

How long you're contagious and other flu facts.

View More

Is it a cold or the flu?

Test your knowledge.

View More

WebMD Answers to Top Cold and Flu Questions

  • Can I do anything to make my cold go away faster?

    While there's no cure for a cold, there are definitely things you can do to help your body beat a cold virus faster...More

  • What causes a common cold?

    The rhinovirus (or other cold virus) enters your body through your nose or mouth and is easily spread...More

  • Can a cold develop into flu?

    The cold and the flu are caused by different viruses. So a cold can't turn into the flu, but...More

close

From Our Sponsor

Content under this heading is from or created on behalf of the named sponsor. This content is not subject to the WebMD Editorial Policy and is not reviewed by the WebMD Editorial department for accuracy, objectivity or balance.