Answer: Enlarged turbinates, nasal polyps, and allergies cause stuffy nose and inability to sleep at night. Stuffy nose at night is the second most common cause of sleep apnea, a condition causing restless tossing and turning, lack of REM sleep, and inability to concentrate during the day time. To cure it, use a neti pot with dissolved essential oil and salt to clear your sinuses of mucus and infection.
Take these 5 Steps to Heal Your Stuffy Nose and Get More Sleep at Night:
1.) Boil 5 cups of water in a small saucepan on the stove. Once boiling, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, to mimic the natural saline of the body. Optionally, use a clean, sterile eyedropper to add one drop of lemon essential oil to the water. Lemon promotes acidity, which is strongly believed in Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation and swelling.
2.) Use a candy thermometer to measure the water’s temperature. Boil until the water reaches 260 degrees, to completely dissolve the salt and lemon essential oil. Stir continuously.
3.) Allow the water to cool for 15 minutes, or until the candy thermometer reads 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
4.) While the water is still a comfortably warm temperature, pour it into a clean, sterilized neti pot. The water should be fresh and warm, but not scalding, most closely resembling the steam that comes out of a warm shower.
5.) Tilt your head back 45 degrees, and pour the neti pot water into one nostril, while holding over the sink. the water should run through the sinuses, while the heat, lemon, and salt work together to heal blood vessel inflammation and reduce turbinate size.
6.) If you don’t have a neti pot: Boil water on the stove using the same technique as above, but skip the salt, and add 2 drops of essential oil. Do not let the water cool. Pour the essential water immediately into a wooden bowl. Place your face over the bowl, to deeply inhale the steam. Place a towel over your head, which drapes over the bowl, to create your own sinus reducing steam tent.
How Can I Get More Sleep At Night?
First, change your sleeping position. The ideal sleeping position is on your back, with a small hard pillow under your neck, which allows the sinuses to drain, versus the side or stomach, which causes blood to flow and block the sinuses with swelling and gravity. Then unblock your sinus cavity. Take a steam bath, allowing the steam to relax your nasal blood vessels. Or rub your chest with Vick’s Vapor Rub, allowing the menthol to restrict your blood vessels.
Bonus tip: Use a cool mist humidifier to get the benefits of both steam and menthol. Add one drop of peppermint essential oil per ten gallons of humidifier water, then place the humidifier in your bedroom for deeper sleep benefits.
Use temporary cures when allergies are the cause, such as flonase, or nasal strips which open the nasal passages, and allow a stronger flow of air into the lungs.
Sugar and Stuffy Nose at Night
Certain foods, such as margarine, vegetable oil, and sugar, increase joints and mucus cavity inflammation. Aspartame, sucrose, malodextrin, and other “artificial” sugars increase mucus production by up to 20% in the body.
To ease your breathing and sleep better at night, reduce your amount of sugar intake during the day. Add one spoon of old fashioned sugar to your coffee in the morning, instead of 2 packs of aspartame. Opt for sugar-free snacks marketed to diabetics. If a sugar craving hits, suck on a hard candy, instead of popping chocolate candies into your mouth.
Gluten and Sinus Congestion
Much like sugar, the gluten in durum wheat products kicks the body into mucus production overdrive. To sleep better, reduce your gluten intake by consuming less alcohol, opting for gluten-free snacks, frozen pizzas and cookies, and using healthier, veggie-filled recipes, like this one that substitutes spaghetti nut squash for spaghetti pasta noodles.
How to Reduce Nasal Congestion and Sleep Better
Foods like those mentioned above can cause permanent sinus congestion. Overuse of nasal congestion sprays can leave noses stuffy and sore. Stress and allergies produce cortisone and histamines, both of which harden and enlarge the blood vessels. Nasal strips and decongestants can help in the short term. To get a good night’s sleep in the long run, however, eliminate the root of the problem by changing your dietary habits, using a neti pot, or sleeping next to a small, cool-mist humidifier.