Why Is My Sinus Infection Worse at Night?

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You thought you were getting better. Your headache seemed more distant, your runny nose seemed to be letting up, and you had finally stopped sneezing (mostly). But then you crawled into bed and pulled the covers on–and suddenly everything feels so much worse.

Does it seem like your sinus infection is getting worse at night? Many people have experienced this immensely frustrating development on their road to feeling better. The question is–why does your sinus infection choose bedtime to show its worst?

Sinus Infections Do Seem Worse at Night

When you lay down at night, it’s easy to feel like this sudden onslaught of worsening symptoms is something of a setback. You’re resting–and yet you’re feeling worse? That doesn’t seem right. But it’s important to remember that worsening symptoms at night don’t necessarily mean your infection is necessarily getting worse. So the severity of symptoms isn’t always a setback.

That said, as with any illness, sleep can be essential to your recovery. Your immune system relies on a solid eight hours of sleep every night to function properly. So when your sinus infection keeps you up, you may indeed feel a little more miserable the next day. Figuring out why your sinusitis symptoms are getting worse might help you sleep more soundly–and feel a little better as a result.

Why Sinus Infections Seem So Bad When You’re Trying to Sleep

Researchers haven’t been able to nail down a single cause as to why sinus infection symptoms may grow worse when you go to bed.

More likely, it’s a combination of factors at work. Some of the most likely culprits might be the following.

Changes in Your Blood Flow

A large part of the discomfort created by sinus infections is from inflammation. That’s one of the reasons why you feel so much pressure around your sinuses. Inflammation is, among other things, very responsive to blood flow and blood pressure.

The theory is that when you lay down, the blood vessels in your sinuses open up a bit. Usually, this isn’t a problem–it’s just a natural part of living. But when you have a sinus infection, this extra blood flow and increased blood pressure might lead to greater inflammation. And that inflammation can, in turn, exacerbate your symptoms.

Possible solution: Try sleeping with your head elevated.

Gravity Is Working Against You

When you’re standing, it’s easy enough for your body to clear your sinuses: just let gravity do the work. But when you lay down in bed, the gravity of the situation changes. It’s easier for all the liquid in your sinuses to stay put, keep collecting, and increase the pressure you feel. This can make you miserable as you’re trying to sleep for the night.

Left with nowhere else to go, the nasal drip can also move down your throat, causing irritation and, possibly, exacerbating your infection.

Possible solutions: Again, try sleeping with your head elevated or give yourself an extra pillow. You can also try taking an over-the-counter decongestant or sinus medication to help alleviate your symptoms (and, of course, follow all the requisite directions for any medications you take).

There Are Fewer Distractions

You tend to be busier and more energetic during the day. You focus on the task at hand or the Netflix series you’re binging. When you go to bed, however, all of those distractions fade away, and you’re left with nothing to think about except the uncomfortable drip of mucus in the back of your throat or the pounding sinus pressure under your eyes. This can make it feel as though your symptoms are worse–but, really, you’re just noticing them a bit more.

Possible solution: Try using a humidifier. The white noise can help give you something to think about, and the extra humidity in the air can help ease your symptoms.

If your sinus infection continues to linger, whether they get worse at night or not, it’s important to seek out medical treatment so you can find relief from your symptoms.

Want more information?

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