Falling asleep with a sore, scratchy throat is no easy task. Fortunately, there are lots of simple things you can do to make yourself more comfortable before bedtime. Take over-the-counter medications that moisten your throat and try home remedies that make it easier to swallow. Create a relaxing bedtime environment that will make it easier to drop off to sleep and stay asleep.
EditTaking Medication to Soothe Your Throat
Use throat sprays or gargles before bed. Purchase over-the-counter (OTC) pain-relieving throat sprays or gargles. Most sprays or gargles contain anesthetics such as lidocaine that will numb your throat long enough for you to fall asleep comfortably. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when taking an OTC medication.
For a natural throat spray, choose one that includes echinacea and sage. Studies show that these are just as effective as OTC medications that contain lidocaine.
Another option is a phenol 1.4% spray, such as Chloraseptic. After spraying the back of your throat, hold the spray in your mouth for 15 seconds before spitting it out.
You can also try benzocaine and menthol lozenges, such as Cepacol Sore Throat. Use 1 lozenge every 2 to 4 hours.
Your doctor may prescribe a lidocaine gargle to help ease your throat pain. Gargle to lidocaine 2% viscous solution every 3 to 4 hours as needed. Always spit out the gargle when you are done.
Take OTC pain medication at the first sign of a sore throat. While you may associate acetaminophen or ibuprofen with reducing fever or alleviating headaches, these medications can also reduce throat inflammation and relieve throat pain. Take acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Take cough syrup to soothe your throat. If you also have a cough that’s keeping you awake, take an OTC cough syrup that contains a suppressant such as dextromethorphan. This will temporarily stop your coughing, which can help your throat relax long enough for you to fall asleep.
Remember to read the label, especially if you’re taking a medication that also includes a pain reliever. For example, some cold relief medications contain cough suppressants and acetaminophen.
It can be dangerous to take more than one medication containing the same ingredients. For example, if you are taking a cough medicine containing acetaminophen, don’t take Tylenol at the same time. Otherwise, you may overdose on acetaminophen.
Avoid medications that will make you alert. It’s important to check any cold medications you’re taking to ensure they don’t have stimulants or ingredients that will keep you awake or alert. Don’t take anything labeled “daytime” or “non-drowsy.”
Read product labels and don’t take medications that include caffeine.
EditTrying Home Remedies
Drink warm tea with honey during the evening. Brew a pot of herbal or decaffeinated black tea and stir honey into it. Then sip the tea as you relax before bedtime. Drinking tea will soothe your throat and the honey coats it, making it easier to swallow.
Black tea has cough-suppressing qualities, but it’s important to drink decaffeinated varieties so it won’t keep you alert and awake at night.
You can also soothe your throat by drinking plain hot water (as long as it isn’t hot enough to burn your mouth and throat).
Gargle with salt water before bed. Stir 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) of natural sea salt into of warm water. Keep stirring until the salt is dissolved. Then take a sip and gargle the liquid near the back of your throat. Spit it out and keep gargling until you’ve used all of the solution.
Gargling with saltwater will numb the pain of a sore throat and the salt can kill bacteria that may be making you sick.
Gargling saltwater isn’t recommended for children under 6 years old.
Rub mentholated gel on your chest and neck before bedtime. Research shows that mentholated gel can make it easier to sleep if you have an upper respiratory tract infection that’s causing the sore throat. The menthol in the gel can make you feel more comfortable, making it easier to breathe.
Keep lozenges or water on your bedside table. If you wake in the middle of the night with a sore throat, reach for a lozenge or sips of water. These will moisten your throat, which dries out as you sleep. Sucking on a lozenge will also make your mouth produce saliva, which will moisten your throat as you swallow.
Don’t lay back down when you have a lozenge in your mouth because this will increase your risk of choking. Sit up until the lozenge is dissolved.
Try lozenges containing 7 mg of pectin, such as Halls Fruit Breezers. Dissolve 1 lozenge slowly in your mouth every 1 to 2 hours as needed.
Eat or drink something cold before bedtime. Cold beverages or treats can numb your throat long enough for you to fall asleep. For example, suck on ice chips or drink an ice-cold beverage before you go to bed.
You can also enjoy popsicles, ice cream, or frozen yogurt, which will dull the pain of a sore throat.
EditMaking Your Bedroom More Comfortable
Run a humidifier before bed or while you sleep. Dry air can irritate an already sore throat. To introduce moisture, run a humidifier in your bedroom before you go to sleep or through the night. Keep the humidity around 49 to 50%.
Some humidifiers have a cool mist or warm mist setting so you can control the temperature in your room more effectively.
It’s also a good idea to hydrate yourself just before bed. Drink a glass of water or set one on your bedside table.
Sleep with a few extra pillows under your head. If mucus collects in the back of your throat by morning, raise your head up before you go to sleep. Elevating your head will help the mucus drain so it doesn’t irritate your throat.
Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can also help prevent nasal drainage from irritating your throat.
Keep your room between . Although you might feel like bundling up if you have a cold, you’ll actually fall asleep faster if your body is a little cool. Set your bedroom thermostat between before you lie down. In the morning you can turn the heat back up if needed.
It’s also a good idea to sleep with blankets that you can take off if you get too warm.
While keeping your room cool can help you sleep, avoid using an air conditioner if you can. An A/C can dry out the air, further irritating your throat.
Relax in a dim bedroom before going to sleep. Try to unwind during the hour before you plan to go to sleep. To make it easier to relax, keep the lights low and get comfortable. Practice your favorite calming techniques such as reading a good book, soaking in the tub, or meditating.
Taking a steamy shower is another great way to relax before bed since it will loosen mucus and can relieve other symptoms of a cold.
Avoid looking at bright screens or listening to loud music.
Lie on your side to keep post-nasal drip from irritating your throat.
Minimize irritants in the room such as tobacco smoke or cold, dry air.
If your sore throat doesn’t improve after a few days and you also have a fever or swollen glands near your jaw, contact your doctor. You may have a bacterial infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics.
EditSources and Citations
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