The Link between Sinusitis and Sleep

Introduction to sinusitis and how it can disturb sleep

Sinuses are hollow cavities within the bones between the eyes, behind the cheekbones and in the forehead. They produce mucus which aids in keeping the inside of one’s nose moist. In addition to this the mucus protects one’s nose from dust, allergens and pollutants by trapping them.

The paranasal sinuses are situated in one’s head near the nose and eyes. The different types of sinuses are named after the bones that creates their structure:

  • Ethmoidal sinuses – It is located between the eyes.
  • Maxillary sinuses – It is located below the eyes.
  • Sphenoidal sinuses – It is located behind the eyes.
  • Frontal sinuses – It is located above the eyes.

Usually healthy sinuses are filled with air. But when they become clogged and filled with fluid, germs tend to grow. These germs lead to an inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. This condition is termed as sinusitis.

The different types of sinusitis are:

  • Acute bacterial sinusitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Subacute sinusitis
  • Recurrent acute sinusitis
Different types of Sinusitis Image by Dr GVK Chaitanya Rao

Sinusitis often causes pain or pressure around the nose, eyes, cheeks or forehead. The conditions that can trigger a sinus blockage include:

  • Common cold
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Nasal polyps
  • Deviated nasal septum

Any blockage or obstruction that causes one to breathe through the mouth hinders the nose from warming, filtering and moistening the air he/she breathes. This can result in a greater level of sleep disturbance. Breathing through the nose is less work as there is more resistance while breathing through the mouth. When one breathes through the mouth at night, the jaw and tongue can fall back and blow the airway. If one is having difficulty sleeping due to sinusitis, he/she may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Nasal or facial pressure
  • Sore throat
  • Snoring
  • Headache

The impact of sinusitis on sleep quality and overall health

Drowsiness Image by Dr GVK Chaitanya Rao

Having a good night’s sleep can seem next to impossible if one is dealing with any kind of ear, nose or throat problem. A blogged and unhealthy nasal passage can make sleep difficult. Sinusitis tends to cause this type of congestion and blockage. This in turn makes breathing through the nose difficult. Due to which one resorts to breathing through the mouth which makes matters even worse. It doesn’t help in protecting the body from germs. No warming, filtering or moistening of the air one breathes takes place in case of mouth breathing. As a consequence the level of sleep disturbance increases.

Sleep deprivation keeps one’s body from recovering physically and mentally. Without adequate sleep, one’s brain and body will have a hard time functioning normally. During sleep, one’s brain creates new neurological connections that aids with memory, healing of the body and restoration of chemical balance. Inadequate sleep doesn’t provide enough time for these systems to restore. Virtually all the physiological systems stop functioning optimally which can gravely affect one’s quality of life.

Any one with sleep deprivation will experience symptoms like:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Difficulty in thinking and concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Grumpiness and emotional issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Excessive yawning

An average adult needs seven hours of sleep at night. Less than six hours results in a lower metabolic rate. Apart from this, sleep deprivation in sinusitis triggers diminishing quality of life and is associated with poor functional outcomes like impaired cognitive function and depression. Lack of sleep also makes one’s immune system weaker.

Tips for getting a good night’s rest with sinusitis

Sleeping Image by Dr GVK Chaitanya Rao

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential. But laying down flat and sleeping naturally relaxes the muscles in one’s throat and causes the mucus to get collected in the nasal passages. This gives rise to congestion and can trigger breathing trouble or snoring. Some of the common sleep complications are obstructive sleep apnea, upper airway resistance syndrome and insomnia.

Some of the tips which one can follow to get a good night’s rest with sinusitis can be listed as:

  • Curtail the exposure to any sort of allergy
  • Keep the bedroom dark
  • Maintain the bedroom temperature between 20 and 21 degrees 
  • Adopt to a healthy lifestyle

Strategies for managing sinusitis symptoms while sleeping

Nasal drops Image by Dr GVK Chaitanya Rao

Not having a good night’s sleep affects both the body and the mood. But it is easier said than done, when suffering from sinus pain and congestion. The cardinal symptoms of sinusitis are:

  • Nasal obstruction
  • Nasal discharge
  • Facial pain
  • Reduction or loss of smell

Apart from complaints of toothache and sleep deprivation, sinusitis also reduces the quality of life.

Some strategies which one can adopt for managing their sinusitis symptoms for a good night’s sleep can be summed up as:

  • Taking an antihistamine before bed
  • Making the bedroom a pet-free area
  • Elevating the head using pillows
  • Stop using nightcap
  • Preventing from drinking caffeine before bed
  • Keeping the nasal passages moist
  • Keeping the bedroom cool and dark
  • Using a humidifier
  • Keeping supplies by the bed
  • Eating honey
  • Taking steamy shower before bed
  • Using a saline rinse
  • Wearing a nasal strip
  • Using an over-the-counter steroid
  • Using a decongestant nasal spray
  • Trying cold and flu medicines

Medically reviewed by SinusDoctor,
Dr G V K Chaitanya Rao

Sinusitis Basics

Medication for Sinusitis

In this article : Antibiotics Painkillers Allergy Medicines Steroids Decongestants Medication for Sinusitis Is it possible to cure sinusitis through medication without involving surgery? Do

Read More »

Causes of Sinusitis

Causes of Sinusitis – It is important to understand the wide range of causes of Sinusitis and why proper diagnosis and timely treatment is crucial.

Read More »

Symptoms of Sinusitis

Sinusitis is often confused with a cold, allergies, migraine and various other conditions. In fact many of these conditions have similar symptoms leading to confusion. Hence it is important to understand the symptoms of sinusitis before you see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Read More »

Sinus Self Assessment Test

Answer our simple 22 point Sinus Questionnaire and get an instant evaluation of the seriousness of your Sinus condition

Sinus FAQ's

Join our Newsletter

If you are suffering from sinusitis for a while, book an appointment with SinusDoctor for thorough diagnosis & treatment

loader

How severe is my Sinusitis? Take the SNOT22 test to assess your Sinusitis