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How to relieve coughing at night

Coughing can be uncomfortable – especially if it’s keeping you awake during the night. Luckily, there are plenty of treatment options that can help.

In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons why you may be coughing at night, why coughing tends to be worse at night, and the various treatment options available to help.

In this guide:

•    Reasons you may be coughing at night
•    Why is my cough worse at night?
•    How to reduce coughing at night naturally
•    How to relieve coughing at night with medication
•    When to see a doctor about coughing at night
•    Coughing at night FAQs

Reasons you may be coughing at night

There are different types of coughs, from a dry cough to a mucus-producing cough. Uncontrollable coughing at night can be caused by various factors and conditions. These include:

Common cold

Constant coughing at night can be caused by a common cold. This type of virus can enter your body through your mouth, eyes, or nose from droplets in the air. You can catch a common cold from someone who is infected with the virus, or through touch – for example, by touching a contaminated surface.


Similar to a cold, the flu virus also infects your throat, nose, and lungs. You can catch the virus when an infected person coughs or sneezes into the air, or by touching something they’ve touched. Generally, flu symptoms are worse than common cold symptoms. One of the key differences between cold and flu symptoms is that you’re much more likely to experience a high fever and chills with the flu, while sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose are typically associated with the common cold.


Asthma is a common lung condition that can affect people of all ages. It usually starts in childhood, but it can also develop in adulthood.
In addition to causing your airways to narrow and swell – which can make it difficult to breathe – asthma can also cause you to cough up mucus. Certain things can trigger an asthma flare-up, including pollen, dust, smoke, and exercise.


An allergy is where your body reacts to something that’s usually harmless, such as dust, pollen, or animal fur. These substances can irritate your nasal membrane and trigger mucus build-up in your throat, which can cause you to cough, especially when laid down at night.


Certain chemicals you inhale while smoking can irritate your airways and lungs, which can result in what’s known as a ‘smokers cough’. For example, smoking can damage the small hairs that line your airways and help to keep them clear. It can also cause your airways to produce more mucus than normal. Coughing is your body’s natural way of trying to overcome these damaging effects from smoking. 

Why is my cough worse at night?

One of the main reasons why we cough is to clear mucus from our airways. However, when we lie down, we collect more mucus in the back of the throat, which is why we feel the need to cough more during the night.
Your cough may also be worse at night due to your sleeping position, the quality of air in your bedroom, and exposure to irritants from your bed sheets.

How to reduce coughing at night naturally

Wondering how to relieve a persistent cough at night? Regardless of the cause, various home remedies and lifestyle measures can help to relieve nighttime coughing. These include:

Change your sleeping position

When we lie down, mucus collects more easily in the back of the throat, which makes us want to cough. However, altering your sleeping position and propping your mattress upright may help to ease coughing at night. You can also use a few pillows to elevate your head.

Combat dry air

Cooler air lacks humidity, which means the air in your home can become dry during winter. This can irritate your throat and lead to coughing. To combat dry air in your home, try using a humidifier. This will work to add moisture to the air to help keep you from coughing at night.

Keep your airways clear

While a persistent cough at night can be irritating, it’s actually a sign your body is on the road to recovery, by cleaning mucus from your lungs. You can help to speed up the recovery process and clear excess mucus from your body by regularly blowing your nose. Inhaling steam – for example, by using hot water in a bowl – may also help to relieve coughing fits at night.

Manage your allergies

If you suffer from allergies, nighttime coughs may be trigged by your bedding. To help minimise potential irritants such as dust and dead skin cells, be sure to change your bed sheets regularly. You may even want to try using a hypoallergenic pillow and switch to a hypoallergenic laundry detergent to minimise the risk of irritants.

Stay hydrated

While you may not be able to stop coughing at night completely, keeping hydrated can help. For example, a hot decaf drink before bedtime can help to soothe your throat, making you less likely to cough during the night. Ginger tea is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, so it may be a good option.

How to relieve coughing at night with medication

If you’ve tried multiple home remedies and you still can’t stop coughing at night, over the counter (OTC) remedies might help. Not only can they lessen the urge to cough, but they can also help to thin mucus, making it easier to cough it up.

The BENYLIN® cough relief for adults range features a collection of effective cough relief products, including BENYLIN® Dry Cough Night Syrup. This contains dextromethorphan, which helps to supress the cough mechanism, reducing the urge to cough.

If your child is waking up coughing at night, the BENYLIN® cough relief children’s range provides a selection of cough relief products suitable for children and infants, including BENYLIN® Children’s Dry Cough & Sore Throat Syrup and BENYLIN® Children’s Chesty Cough Medicine.

Concerned about your child coughing at night? Discover what causes children to cough at night and the various treatment options available with our comprehensive guide to children coughing at night.

When to see a doctor about coughing at night

While coughs linked to allergies and the common cold can last several months, you shouldn’t ignore them. If your cough persists for eight weeks or more, or is followed by shortness of breath or fever, see a doctor. Additionally, if you’re coughing up blood, seek medical attention immediately.

Coughing at night FAQs

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