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Why Do I Cough When I Lay Down?

Are you one of those individuals who experience a persistent cough when you lay down to rest? If so, you’re not alone. Many people wonder, “Why do I cough when I lay down?” This article aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the causes behind this phenomenon and offer potential solutions to help alleviate your discomfort.

So, let’s delve into the reasons why you may experience a cough when laying down and explore effective remedies for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Cough When Lay Down

Why Do I Cough When I Lay Down?

There could be several reasons why you experience coughing when you lie down. Here are a few possible explanations:

The Impact of Postnasal Drip

When you lay down, you may notice an increase in coughing due to postnasal drip. This occurs when excess mucus from your nose and sinuses drips down the back of your throat, triggering a cough reflex.

Postnasal drip is commonly caused by allergies, colds, sinus infections, or even certain medications.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, a disorder defined by the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus, is another potential reason for coughing while lying down.

When you recline, gravity no longer assists in keeping the stomach acid down, leading to irritation and coughing. This type of cough, known as a “GERD” often worsens at night.

Asthma and Its Nocturnal Nature

Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition, can also contribute to coughing when you lay down. Nocturnal asthma, in particular, manifests as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath during sleep. Lying down can worsen these symptoms, leading to nighttime coughing fits.

Cardiac Conditions and Fluid Accumulation

In some cases, a cough when laying down may be an indication of an underlying cardiac condition. Conditions like heart failure or heart valve problems can cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs, leading to a persistent cough, especially when you recline.

If you experience coughing along with symptoms like chest pain or swelling, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional promptly.

Medications and Side Effects

Certain medications, including ACE inhibitors used to manage high blood pressure, can induce a persistent cough as a side effect. If you’ve recently started a new medication and noticed a correlation between the cough and its initiation, speak with your doctor to explore potential alternatives.

Related: Nervous cough – Symptoms and effective remedies

Solutions to Alleviate Coughing When Laying Down

Now that we’ve discussed the possible causes behind your cough when laying down, let’s explore some effective solutions to help alleviate this discomfort and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.

1. Elevate Your Head and Upper Body

Raising the head and upper body while sleeping can minimize the impact of postnasal drip and reduce acid reflux.

You can achieve this elevation by using extra pillows, a wedge-shaped pillow, or an adjustable bed frame. By maintaining a more upright position, you can mitigate coughing and experience relief.

2. Manage Your Allergies

If your coughing is due to allergies, it’s essential to manage them effectively. Consult an allergist to identify your specific triggers and develop a personalized treatment plan.

This may involve avoiding allergens, taking antihistamines, using nasal sprays, or undergoing allergen immunotherapy.

3. Address Acid Reflux

To alleviate coughing caused by acid reflux, several lifestyle changes can make a difference. Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime, limit spicy or acidic foods, and refrain from lying down immediately after eating.

Additionally, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce acid production or strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter.

4. Control Asthma Symptoms

If asthma contributes to your nighttime coughing, it’s crucial to manage your condition effectively. Consult with a healthcare professional to develop an asthma action plan that includes appropriate medications, regular monitoring, and avoidance of triggers.

By keeping your asthma well-controlled, you can minimize coughing episodes at night.

5. Seek Medical Attention for Cardiac Concerns

If you suspect that an underlying cardiac condition is causing your cough, it’s imperative to seek medical attention promptly. A healthcare professional can evaluate your symptoms, perform diagnostic tests, and provide appropriate treatment to address the underlying cause.

6. Review Your Medications

If you suspect that your cough is a side effect of medication, consult your doctor to explore alternative options. They can prescribe an alternative medication that doesn’t induce coughing or adjust your current dosage to mitigate this unwanted side effect.

Read Also: Cough with gastric reflux – Symptoms and remedies

Natural Remedies of Cough When Lay Down
When experiencing a cough that worsens when you lay down, there are several natural remedies that you can try to alleviate the symptoms.

Natural Remedies of Cough When Lay Down

  • Honey: Honey has soothing properties and can help relieve cough symptoms. Mix one tablespoon of honey with warm water or herbal tea and consume it before bedtime.
  • Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties that can help alleviate coughing. You can prepare ginger tea by steeping fresh ginger slices in hot water for about 10 minutes. Add honey and lemon for additional benefits.
  • Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder with warm milk and drink it before bedtime.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint is known for its soothing effect on the respiratory system. You can drink peppermint tea or inhale peppermint oil by adding a few drops to hot water and inhaling the steam.
  • Steam Inhalation: Inhaling steam can help soothe irritated airways and reduce coughing. Boil a pot of water, remove it from the heat, and place your face over the pot with a towel draped over your head. Breathe in the steam for about 10 minutes.
  • Marshmallow Root: Marshmallow root has demulcent properties that can help soothe the throat and reduce coughing. You can prepare marshmallow root tea by steeping one teaspoon of dried marshmallow root in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Drink it before bedtime.

FAQs about Coughing When Laying Down

Can anxiety or stress cause a cough when laying down?

Yes, anxiety and stress can contribute to a cough when laying down. Stress-induced coughing can result from increased muscle tension, heightened sensitivity, or acid reflux triggered by stress. Practicing relaxation techniques and seeking support can help manage anxiety-related coughing.

Can obesity contribute to coughing when lying down?

Yes, obesity can contribute to coughing when lying down. Excess weight can put pressure on the diaphragm and lungs, leading to breathing difficulties and coughing, particularly when in a reclined position.

Are there any over-the-counter medications that can help with nighttime coughing?

Over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants or antihistamines can provide temporary relief from nighttime coughing. However, it’s important to consult a pharmacist or healthcare professional to ensure their suitability for your specific situation.

When should I consider undergoing a sleep study for my nighttime cough?

A: If your coughing when laying down significantly impacts your sleep quality or persists despite trying various remedies, a sleep study may be beneficial. A sleep study can help identify any underlying sleep disorders or conditions contributing to your coughing episodes.


Experiencing a persistent cough when laying down can be disruptive to your sleep and overall well-being. By understanding the various causes behind this phenomenon and implementing effective solutions, you can minimize nighttime coughing and enjoy restful nights.

Remember to consult a healthcare professional if your cough persists or is accompanied by concerning symptoms. Take charge of your health and reclaim peaceful sleep!