Why Do I Wake Up With A Stuffy Nose?

Why Do I Wake Up With A Stuffy Nose

For many of us, the first stretch of the day involves reaching for a box of tissue paper. Isn’t it? It makes us think, why do I wake up with a stuffy nose, even when not sick?

There are various reasons for early morning nasal congestion, often known as rhinitis. However, there are many more reasons that may surprise you. Here are a few of them-

The Most Common Reasons for Morning Nasal Congestion

Usually, a stuffy nose is caused by hives and mucus buildup in the nose and sinuses. As a result, reducing airflow and contributing to blocked nasal passages sensation. 

Nasal congestion is often caused by illness. However, allergies that contribute to nasal congestion can also be caused by other conditions, such as pregnancy and small growths known as polyps in the nasal canal.

Cold or Flu

Cold or Flu

Cold and flu are common causes of stuffy noses. When someone gets a typical cold or influenza, their body try to eliminate the illness by creating mucus. Mucus and inflammation caused by the infection cause the sensation of a stuffy nose.


Some can be allergic to airborne particles, including dust, pollen, and animal dander. When people breathe in something they are allergic to, an immune reaction can lead to multiple signs, including a stuffy nose called allergic rhinitis. 

The rate of children who experience allergic rhinitis is up to 40%. This may lower the sleep quality and the lack of sleep may cause more problems.

Nonallergic Rhinitis

Sometimes, people may experience nasal congestion accompanied by sneezing. Even though it may cause a runny nose that may seem because of allergies, often it is because of a particular reason, called nonallergic rhinitis (1). 

Here are a few reasons for nonallergic rhinitis-

  • Differences in temperature or weather.
  • Medications are used to treat heart conditions, depression, or stress.
  • Pungent smell or odor like smoke or perfume.
  • Savory food.
  • Alcohol consumption.

Sinus Infection

An assemblage of mucus in the nasal passages can be a breeding area for bacteria or viruses, potentially resulting in sinus infections. Stuffy nose is a common side effect of sinus infections. 

Headaches and facial pain are other indications that points a sinus infection. When stuffy nose is accompanied with such symptoms, it is better to visit a physician than coming to a conclusion. 

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are the small growths in the nose and sinuses (2). They can cause blockage and the sensation of a stuffy nose. 

People with tiny nasal polyps may not experience any symptoms. However, larger polyps can make breathing difficult through the nose, raise the chance of a sinus infection, and leave a person constantly feeling cold.


Up to 30% of pregnant women have nasal congestion (3). An average increase in blood flow and hormonal changes causes a stuffy nose during pregnancy. 

Additionally, rhinitis can occur during pregnancy due to new or existing allergies, medicines, or other factors. It may also happen spontaneously, without any disease or allergy etiology, during the latter two months of pregnancy.

How To Prevent Stuffy Nose In The Morning?

You can take several steps at home to help keep your sinuses and nose free so you don’t wake up with a stuffy nose. These are-

  1. Stay fit: Restricting your vulnerability to germs is the best way to avoid getting sick. This applies to regularly cleaning your hands with soap and water and avoiding touching your face.
  2. Stay away from solid smells: You can decrease the possibility of waking up with a stuffy nose by limiting exposure to any elements that deepen your nasal congestion. This indicates reducing exposure to toxins such as solid smells and cigarette smoke.
  3. Heighten your head: Lying down can deepen nasal congestion, so resting your head elevated will help ease the feeling of having a congested nose when you wake up.
  4. Heat compress: Because heat can raise your sinuses, putting a warm, dampened cloth on your face can aid in relieving nasal congestion.
  5. Hydration: Sip water to make mucus flimsy and easy to clean.
  6. Rest in a humidifier: The raised humidity can thin the mucus in your nasal passages as you sleep, waking you up with a clear nose.
  7. Inhale steam: Like a nasal wash or warm compress, inhaling steam will enable thin mucus, allowing you to breathe more easily.

When to Talk to Your Doctor?

Talk to Your Doctor

It may be time to see a doctor if you wake up with stuffy nose for over three weeks (4). 

Along with a stuffy nose, many other symptoms may indicate that you should consult your doctor. These are-

  • Discomfort in the face or throat
  • Swelling in the face and blurred vision
  • Fever or flu
  • Nasal release that is green, yellow, or any color other than white or clear
  • A watery nose on only one side or that starts after a head injury
  • A persistent cough for longer than ten days.

Your doctor can help you uncover the underlying reason for your stuffy nose and give treatments like prescription nasal sprays to help you heal faster.


If you often question, why I wake up with a stuffy nose, you may have allergic or nonallergic rhinitis but not cold or flu. Dust mites, seasonal allergies, pet dander, reflux illness, hormonal fluctuations, and environmental pollutants such as passive smoke can all induce nasal congestion.

Take precautions to decrease exposure to the offending irritants by keeping bedding clean, limiting bedroom fibers such as carpets and upholstered furniture, and keeping pets out of the room. Air filters for your air conditioner and vacuum cleaner will help. 

Still, see your doctor about antihistamines, decongestants, and natural therapies to alleviate your symptoms.


  1. National Library Of Medicine – Vasomotor Rhinitis
  2. Medline Plus – Nasal polyps
  3. Office On Women’s Health – Body changes and discomforts
  4. Medline Plus – Stuffy or runny nose – adult

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