How can nose and sinus issues cause problems sleeping?


Nose or sinus issues can make it particularly difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Nasal stuffiness, congestion, dripping and obstruction are common symptoms of nose or sinus issues and can often cause problems sleeping. If you’re suffering from nose or sinus issues, we suggest making an appointment to see one of our sleep specialists for a personalised assessment and treatment plan that suits your individual situation.

Common Causes of Nose and Sinus Issues

  • Allergic response to pollen, dust, grass, pet fur or mould
  • Irritants like smoke, pollutants or strong perfumes
  • Hormonal shifts during meals, exercise or with age
  • Structural narrowing or collapse of nasal passages from intrinsic weakness or injuries

Normal breathing through your nose with a closed mouth generates smooth, streamlined and slow-velocity airflow through the upper airway. Studies on airflow have shown that breathing through your mouth results in a dramatic increase in speed and turbulence of air-flow behind the soft palate and tongue. This causes increased vibration and collapse of the throat, which in turn, worsens snoring and sleep apnoea.

Studies have also shown that people with chronic nasal obstruction report significantly higher rates of insomnia, snoring and sleep apnoea and significantly reduced quality of sleep. So in short, if you’re able to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth at nighttime, you’ll likely be in for a better night’s sleep!

It is deceptively easy to miss the connection between nose and sleep

Potential reasons for sleep disruption from mouth breathing are:

  • Worsened snoring or sleep apnoea
  • Drying of the throat from mouth breathing and the need to frequently sip water through the night
  • Frequent sleep disruption causing tightness of cheek and facial muscles, which results in sinusitis-type symptoms
  • Pain and discomfort from sinusitis or muscular tightness disrupting sleep

Treating nasal symptoms with medication or surgery may not necessarily get rid of all sleep-related problems. Nevertheless, it has been clearly shown in several studies to reduce daytime sleepiness, normalise brain waves during sleep, improve the quality of airflow in the entire upper airway and even improve overall quality of life.

Are you having problems sleeping?

If you think nose and sinus issues could be causing you problems sleeping, our friendly team would love to help. Get in touch with us today to discuss our approach to a better night’s sleep.

If you are worried about your sleep problem, make an appointment to see our sleep specialist.

If you want to learn how your sleep problem is affecting you and what treatments can help, take our sleep test.

Auckland Sleep provides a multi-faceted approach to treating sleep disorders. Our goal is to provide the best possible sleep treatments, accessible to everyone in the community.