Why are sinus problems worse at night?

Why Are Sinus Problems Worse at Night?

Sinus problems, also known as sinusitis, is a common condition experienced by many people. It occurs due to the inflammation of the sinus tissue caused by allergies or infection. Symptoms include stuffy nose, headache, facial pain, and pressure.

Sinus problems can cause discomfort and disruption during the day, but for some individuals, the condition becomes worse at night. This article will explore the reasons why sinus problems are worse at night and what can be done to alleviate the symptoms.

  • What causes sinusitis?
  • Why do sinus problems get worse at night?
  • How can sinus problems be alleviated at night?

What Causes Sinusitis?

Before understanding why sinus problems are worse at night, it is essential to understand what causes sinusitis. Sinusitis occurs when the sinus cavities become inflamed due to an underlying condition such as:

  • Allergies
  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Nasal polyps
  • Deviated septum
  • Environmental irritants

When the sinus cavities become filled with mucus and cannot drain properly, it creates an environment that is ideal for bacteria and viruses to grow. This leads to further inflammation and irritation of the sinus tissue, exacerbating the symptoms of sinusitis.

Why Do Sinus Problems Get Worse at Night?

There are several factors that can cause sinus problems to worsen at night, including:

Lying Down Position

When you lie down on your bed, the mucus in your nasal passage and sinuses becomes restricted to a smaller area. Since your sinus cavities are already inflamed, lying down can make it more challenging for mucus to drain adequately. This, in turn, can lead to an increase in inflammation, pressure, and pain.

Dry Air

During the night, the air in your bedroom can become drier due to heating or air conditioning systems. Dry air can dry out the mucous membrane of your nasal passage, making it more difficult for mucus to drain correctly. This can cause your nasal passage to become congested, making it harder to breathe and exacerbating your sinusitis symptoms.

Postnasal Drip

Postnasal drip is a condition where excessive mucus accumulates in the back of your throat and drips down your throat, causing irritation and coughing. It can be caused by allergies, sinusitis, or cold. This condition can worsen at night, particularly when you lie down, causing mucus to pool in the back of your throat, resulting in discomfort or irritation.

How can Sinus Problems be Alleviated at Night?

Even though sinusitis at night can cause discomfort, several remedies can help to alleviate the symptoms. These include:

Using a Humidifier

A humidifier can help add moisture to the air, making it easier and more comfortable for you to breathe. This can help to reduce the severity of your sinusitis symptoms at night. You can use a warm mist or cool mist humidifier depending on your preference.

Elevating Your Head

Using an extra pillow to elevate your head while you sleep can help to alleviate congestion since it assists in draining mucus from your sinuses. This can help to reduce the pressure and pain caused by sinusitis.

Using a Nasal Irrigation Solution

A nasal irrigation solution can be used to flush out mucus from your nasal passages, helping to alleviate congestion and reduce inflammation. You can use a saline solution or a nasal irrigator to cleanse your nasal passage before going to bed and in the morning.

Taking Medications

There are several over-the-counter medications available that can help to alleviate the symptoms of sinusitis. These include nasal decongestants, antihistamines, pain relievers, and saline nasal sprays. If you have a severe sinus infection, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the bacterial infection causing your sinusitis.


Sinusitis is a common condition that can cause discomfort and disrupt your life. Although the symptoms can worsen at night, there are several remedies that can alleviate the discomfort and reduce inflammation. Elevating your head, using a humidifier, taking medications, and using nasal irrigation solutions are just a few ways to alleviate sinusitis symptoms at night.


  • Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Sinus headaches: causes, symptoms, and treatment. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sinus-headaches/symptoms-causes/syc-20377580
  • American Rhinologic Society. (n.d). Sinusitis. American Rhinologic Society. https://www.american-rhinologic.org/patientinfo/sinusitis
  • Hill, B. (2019, February 28). 10 home remedies for sinus pressure relief. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/home-remedies-for-sinus-pressure-89731
  • Cleveland Clinic. (2020, June). Why you wake up congested. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-you-wake-up-congested/


  • Q. Can sinusitis cause difficulty sleeping?
  • A. Yes, sinusitis can cause difficulty sleeping due to the inflammation and congestion that occurs in the nasal passages and sinuses.
  • Q. Can an air purifier help alleviate sinusitis symptoms at night?
  • A. Yes, an air purifier can help to remove airborne irritants, such as dust, pollen, and pet dander, that can worsen sinusitis symptoms. It can also help to maintain the humidity levels in your bedroom at a recommended level of about 30 to 50 percent.
  • Q. How long does sinusitis usually last?
  • A. Sinusitis usually lasts between 10 to 14 days. However, it can sometimes last longer if the underlying condition causing the sinusitis is not treated.
  • Q. Can stress worsen sinusitis symptoms at night?
  • A. Yes, stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections that can cause sinusitis. Stress can also worsen the symptoms of sinusitis by increasing inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses.