Remedies for Night Time Nasal Congestion

Have you ever woken up with congested sinuses or the feeling that you can't breathe? If so, it's likely affecting your sleep quality and might be causing sleep apnea, which means you stop breathing for short periods at night.

I've dealt with nasal congestion at night for years now. Lately, I've been experimenting with a variety of products.

My take – for mild nasal congestion, nasal strips and a non-medicated inhaler are the best. If that doesn't work try medicated inhalers like Flonase.

Go with non-medicated if you can

I was using Flonase daily (Fluticasone). Can be a vicious cycle where you need them to sleep. Not a true habit forming physiological need. source


When you lie down at night the horizontal position, along with gravity, increase blood flow to the head. This increased blood flow can cause the nasal passage to expand and result as a feeling of stuffiness.


  • Nasal dilator – A "dilator" is a small plastic device that fits inside your nostril and expands the opening to allow more air flow. These are sometimes used by athletes to increase oxygen intake while exercising. I experimented with the SleepRight brand. While effective, I found these devices to be painful and distracting while falling asleep and I honestly started to worry that my nostrils would be stretched by the strong force of the device.
  • Nose strips – These are clear strips that look like band-aids and are worn across the bridge of your nose. Unlike the "dilators", these strips gently open up your nasal passageway from the outside. They've turned out to be very helpful for me and are now part of my daily routine. I even wear them during the day to increase oxygen flow to my nasal cavity and brain. After experimenting with a variety of products at different price points, I didn't find any significant differences. I recommend Clear Passage or Breathe Right.
  • Non-medicated inhaler – This product looks like a lip balm tube, except when opened it emits a strong smell of camphor and menthol. It's meant to be inhaled deeply in each nostril and I found it to help relax and open up my nasal passages before bed. I personally recommend Vicks VapoInhaler Non-Medicated. It is a blend of camphor, menthol, methyl salicylate, and Siberian Fir.

Final thoughts

For mild nighttime decongestion there may be no need for medication. I encourage you to try nasal strips and a non-medicated inhaler, both of which are inexpensive, non-invasive, non-medicated and may improve your sleep quality like they did mine.