You may notice that it is very difficult to sleep when your throat is sore and itchy. Fortunately, there are many simple ways to get comfortable before bed. You can take over-the-counter medications to moisten your throat and try home remedies to make swallowing easier. Create a relaxed atmosphere that makes it easier for you to fall asleep soundly.
Method 1 of 3: Take Medication to Clear the Throat
Step 1. Use a throat spray or gargle before bed
Purchase an over-the-counter throat spray or mouthwash. Most of these products contain anesthetics such as lidocaine which will numb your throat long enough to allow you to sleep comfortably. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when using over-the-counter medications.
- If you want a natural throat spray, choose one that contains echinacea and sage. Studies show that these sprays are just as effective as those containing lidocaine.
- Another option is a 1.4% phenol spray, such as Chloraseptic. After spraying the back of the throat, hold the spray in your mouth for 15 seconds before spitting it out
- You can also try lozenges that contain benzocaine and menthol. Take one lozenge every 2 to 4 hours.
- Your doctor may prescribe lidocaine mouthwash to relieve a sore throat. Gargle with a thick solution of 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 ml) of 2% lidocaine every 3 to 4 hours as needed. Spit it out when you're done.
Step 2. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever at the first sign of a sore throat
While you may know acetaminophen or ibuprofen are drugs to reduce fever or reduce headaches, they can actually reduce sore throats and relieve sore throats. Take acetaminophen (paracetamol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen as directed.
Research shows that the sooner you take NSAIDs when you have a sore throat, the faster it will heal.
Step 3. Drink cough syrup to clear the throat
If you're also coughing so much that you can't sleep, take an over-the-counter cough syrup that contains a suppressant such as dextromethorphan. This medicine temporarily stops the cough, which keeps the throat clear long enough for you to sleep.
- Remember to read the label, especially if you are taking medication that also contains a pain reliever. For example, there are cold medications that contain both a cough suppressant and acetaminophen.
- It is dangerous if you take more than one drug that contains the same ingredients. For example, if you are already taking cough medicine that contains acetaminophen, stop taking Panadol. Otherwise, you will be overdosing on acetaminophen.
Step 4. Avoid drugs that keep you awake
You should check the type of medication you are taking to make sure there are no stimulants or ingredients that make you awake. Don't take medications labeled "day medicine" or "doesn't cause drowsiness."
Read product labels and don't take medications that contain caffeine
Method 2 of 3: Trying Home Remedies
Step 1. Drink warm tea with honey at night
Brew herbal tea or decaffeinated black tea and add honey. Then, have a drink while you relax before going to bed. Drinking tea will soothe your throat and honey will coat it so you can swallow easily.
- Black tea contains cough suppressants, but choose the decaffeinated variety so you stay awake and refreshed at night.
- You can also soothe your throat by drinking plain hot water (as long as it's not too hot which will actually burn your mouth and throat)
Step 2. Gargle with salt water before going to bed
Stir teaspoon (2.5 grams) of natural salt into 1 cup (250 ml) of warm water. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Then, gargle with the liquid concentrating on the back of the throat. Spit and rinse again until the solution runs out.
- A salt water gargle will numb the sore throat and the salt can kill any bacteria that may be making you sick.
- Salt water gargles are not recommended for children under 6 years of age.
Step 3. Rub menthol gel on your chest and neck before going to bed
Research shows that menthol gel or liniment can improve sleep in people with upper gastrointestinal infections that cause sore throats. The menthol in the gel can make you feel more comfortable making it easier to breathe.
Step 4. Have lozenges or water at the bedside
If you wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat, take the candy or drink it. This will moisten the throat that becomes dry while you sleep. Sucking on lozenges will also stimulate the production of saliva which moistens the throat when swallowing.
- Don't lie down while sucking lozenges as this will increase the risk of choking. Sit until the candy dissolves completely.
- Try a candy bar containing 7 mg of pectin. Suck gently every 1 to 2 hours as needed.
Step 5. Eat or drink something cold before bed
Cold drinks or food can numb your throat long enough to get you to sleep. For example, suck ice cubes or drink ice water.
You can also try popsicles, ice cream, or frozen yogurt, which will numb the sore throat. Avoid milk if you have a fever because milk increases the chances of vomiting and stomach upset
Method 3 of 3: Making the Bedroom More Comfortable
Step 1. Turn on the humidifier and leave it on while you sleep
Dry air can irritate a sore throat. For added humidity, run a humidifier in the room throughout the night. Choose a humidity level of 49 to 50%.
- Some appliances have cold or hot steam settings so you can control the temperature in your room more effectively.
- It's also a good idea to hydrate your body right before bed. Drink a glass of water or have a glass at your bedside.
Step 2. Use some extra pillows while sleeping
If mucus collects in the back of your throat in the morning, elevate your head while sleeping. A higher head position will dry out the mucus so it doesn't irritate the throat.
Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees also helps prevent mucus from flowing from your nose into your throat
Consider using a special wedged pillow if you don't want to sleep with a pile of regular pillows.
Step 3. Set the room temperature between 16 and 19°C with a thermostat
Even if you have a cold you want to sleep with a thick blanket to keep you warm, you'll actually fall asleep faster if you're a bit cold. Set the thermostat between 16 and 19°C before lying down. In the morning, the temperature can be raised if necessary.
- You can also sleep with a blanket that is easily removed if you feel hot.
- A cool room can help you sleep, but avoid using air conditioning if you can. AC can dry out the air, making it more irritating to the throat.
Step 4. Relax in a dimly lit room before bed
Try to relax in the hours before bed. For convenience, dim the lights and position yourself comfortably. Try your favorite self-soothing technique like reading a good book, soaking in a warm bath, or meditating.
- A warm bath can also relax you before bed, as it will loosen mucus and relieve cold symptoms.
- Avoid looking at a bright screen or listening to loud music.
- Lie on your side so that mucus from your nose doesn't irritate your throat.
- Minimize indoor irritants such as tobacco smoke or dry, cold air.