skip to main content
Why Can I Not Stop Coughing at Night?

Why Can I Not Stop Coughing at Night?

Monday, February 07, 2022

The importance of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated. You can eat all the right nutritious meals, exercise daily, and visit your doctor regularly, but if you are not getting the sleep you need, your overall health and wellness will suffer.

There are many explanations for why you may not be getting all the sleep you need. Stress, worry, overindulging in food or beverages, and breathing issues can keep you awake and prevent your body from recharging. Not getting rest can lead to a domino effect of health and wellness concerns.

  • Wake Up: First, you wake up feeling groggy, or struggle to actually get out of bed when your alarm goes off.
  • Breakfast: You don’t have time or energy to make yourself a healthy breakfast.
  • Morning: You feel hungry and fatigued throughout the morning, focused more on when you can eat lunch than your work.
  • Lunch: You are so hungry you end up overeating during lunch, likely something heavy and unhealthy.
  • Afternoon: The further you get from sleep, the more tired you feel. Your lack of sleep and heavy lunch makes you feel even more fatigued.
  • Evening: You slept through your morning exercise time, hoping you would engage in some physical activity after work. Instead, you feel tired and hungry, so you end up skipping the gym and eating a big dinner.
  • Sleep: Even though you’re tired, you still struggle to fall asleep because you’re stressed and irritable.

If this sounds like your day, you know you want to make a change. However, if what keeps you up at night is a steady, lingering cough, it may feel like there’s nothing you can do.

We are here to help! Here are a few of the reasons why you may be coughing at night, and what you can do about it.


What is coughing? Per Medical News Today:

“A cough, also known as tussis, is a voluntary or involuntary act that clears the throat and breathing passage of foreign particles, microbes, irritants, fluids, and mucus; it is a rapid expulsion of air from the lungs.”

What’s Causing Your Nighttime Coughing?

Here are some of the common reasons people are kept awake at night by frequent coughing:

  • Sickness: Your body may be reacting to a build-up of mucus due to sickness.
  • Allergies: Allergies are the body’s overreaction to pollens and other foreign pathogens. Your body may over-produce histamines that lead to mucus in your throat and a resulting cough.
  • Dust and Pet Dander: You may not notice how much dust and pet dander are floating around until you settle in for the night.
  • Asthma: Asthma may lead to a persistent nighttime cough.
  • Tongue Thrust: Tongue thrust is a condition that describes what happens when your tongue rests improperly in your mouth. Tongue thrust can lead to mouth breathing, which can contribute to breathing in dust, pollen, pet dander, and other things that make your cough. When you have a tongue thrust, the strength of your swallow is weakened and it may feel like something is stuck in your throat, leading to coughing or throat clearing.

How to Fix Your Nighttime Coughing

There are a few practical steps you can take to reduce nighttime coughing.

1. Vacuum Frequently

If there are dust and allergens in your home, one of the best lines of defense is to vacuum frequently. For many families, it already feels like all you ever do is vacuum your house. However, to correct nighttime coughing, you may need to vacuum more often to ensure pathogens are night flying around in the air.

2. Use Indoor Air Purifiers

The next step after increasing the frequency of your vacuuming is to supplement with an air purifier. You might put one in your room or in every bedroom.

3. Guard Against Sickness

You probably are always trying to avoid getting sick, but if you’re coughing at night, you may need to take additional steps to avoid viruses and bacteria:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least twenty seconds
  • Wear a mask in public during times when sicknesses are spreading
  • Limit contact with people you know are sick. This may include your children.
  • Avoid sharing drinks, silverware, etc. with other people
  • Eat foods and take vitamins that help boost your immune system

Correct Your Tongue Thrust

If you have tongue thrust, it means your tongue is not resting properly in your mouth. Tongue thrust often leads to mouth breathing, which can lead to snoring and could contribute to coughing at night. Correcting your tongue thrust can go a long way toward reducing your nighttime cough and getting more sleep at night.

Retraining the tongue's position in the mouth is vital to correcting tongue thrust. If you can get your tongue to rest properly, you may be able to overcome mouth breathing and improve your nighttime coughing. We've developed a simple seven-week program at IJustWantTo® Correct My Tongue Thrust to help you retrain your tongue to rest properly in your mouth.

We've seen a lot of people achieve relief from tongue thrust with our easy-to-follow exercises. Don't put it off any longer; begin the process of tongue thrust correction today.

Janet M. Bennett

Written by:

Janet Bennett, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is a Speech Pathologist in private practice in Asheville, NC, since 1977. She specializes in treating tongue thrust, a swallowing disorder that can result in buckteeth, an open bite, a lisp, snoring, and other problems that have not yet been made known to most people.