7 steps to beat dry coughs at night

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Immune System Expert
Ask Dr. Jen Tan

22 November 2019

What helps a dry cough at night?

Coughs can worsen at night when you're in bed because mucus gathers at the back of the throat when you lie down and, as the amount of mucus increases, the cough reflex is triggered. Although the cough reflex, of itself, is not a bad thing, it can be very inconvenient when you're trying to sleep. There are a variety of things that can lead to a dry cough at night, though some are more common than others. There are several steps which you can take to ease your night time cough:

1. Raise your head on pillows whilst sleeping
2. Be prepared with night time remedies
3. Take Echinacea
4. Allergy proof your bedroom
5. Tackle your gastric reflux
6. Give up smoking
7. Drink honey and lemon before bed.

Read on to find out more about how these steps can reduce your dry cough at night.

1. Raise your head on pillows whilst sleeping

When you lie flat on your back in bed, this makes it easier for irritants and mucus to make their way to the back of your throat. This can cause irritation to the throat and make you cough. Sleeping with an extra pillow can be a great way to elevate the head and prevent the accumulation of mucus at the back of the throat.

2. Be prepared with night time remedies

We all know that a sip of water helps a cough, so make sure you have a glass ready on your bedside table. Also, if you are using a cough medicine or spray, ensure you have this at the ready too.

If you've recently had a cold or flu, you may be left with a dry cough which can linger for ages, cause pain to your chest and tickle your throat. Looking for suggestions? Our Bronchosan Cough Syrup contains extracts of freshly harvested pine shoots and honey to provide comfort for dry and irritating coughs. This can be taken in combination with our Cough Spray which is convenient to use during the night, and contains Mullein and Marshmallow to provide fast and effective relief from tickly coughs.


My Top Tip:

Try taking 1-2 teaspoons of Bronchosan pine cough syrup two to four times daily to ease a dry, tickly or irritating cough. If your symptoms worsen or if you do not feel any benefit within 1 week, talk to your doctor.

"My wife tried various cough remedies, this was the only one that soothed her throat and allowed her to sleep without waking up coughing."

Read more customer reviews

3. Take Echinacea

Since we are on the topic of herbal remedies, if your cough is the result of a viral infection then Echinacea could help. Viral infections are often accompanied by many unwanted symptoms, a cough being one of them. This is because mucus production increases to trap the bugs and expel them through coughing. Echinacea may help to fight this infection through reducing inflammation and symptoms in the upper respiratory tract.

Our Echinaforce Echinacea Drops are made from freshly harvested Echinacea so that the plants do not lose their beneficial properties during the production process.

This makes it the ideal option if you wish to try the herb out for yourself.

4. Allergy proof your bedroom

Ensuring your bedroom is kept clean and free from possible allergens may help in reducing your night time cough. Breathing in dust, pet dander and other irritants can provoke an allergic reaction in the body which may result in coughing. Allergy covers for pillow cases, duvets and mattresses can prevent the spread of dust mites.

Keeping pets out of the bedroom, hoovering the carpet and washing bedding frequently can also help to stop the spread of airborne irritants. Sometimes, however, the culprit will not be as obvious. Household cleaning agents, air fresheners, scents and house plant moulds could all be to blame for your troublesome cough, so it is worth checking these too.

5. Tackle your Gastric Reflux

This particular problem is increasingly being recognised as a common cause of dry coughs at night. Reflux occurs when the acidic contents of the stomach travel backwards and then up into the gullet. If this reaches the throat then irritation occurs and this can cause coughing.

As you lie flat in your bed, reflux can happen more easily due to the position of your stomach and throat. As discussed previously, elevating the head during sleep can also be a benefit for acid reflux as this makes it harder for the acid to be pushed up into the throat.

There are many other easy practical tips which can be effective in soothing acid reflux. Sitting upright when eating and chewing food properly allows the digestion process to begin correctly and reduces the risk of acid climbing into the oesophagus. In addition to this, being relaxed during meal times and reducing stress (not only when eating but in your day-to-day life), can allow foods to digest more efficiently.

Avoiding big meals or eating late in the evening can also reduce the chances of suffering from acid reflux during the night. If big meals are consumed late at night, the food will sit in the stomach, putting pressure on the oesophageal sphincter.
The same goes for drinking large volumes of liquid before bed. Consuming lots of liquid not only increases pressure but, when consumed with food, will dilute the digestive enzymes in the stomach, meaning they cannot break down the food as efficiently.

If the oesophagus is already damaged due to previous struggles with acid reflux, it will be more sensitive to irritants in the air, making it more likely that you will suffer from a cough. That's why it is important to try and tackle the problem first hand.

Bitter herbs will help if you suffer from gastric reflux, as well as symptoms such as indigestion and bloating. Bitter herbs are best in tincture form and should be taken 5 to 10 minutes before each meal.

Here, our Digestisan remedy, made from cynara, dandelion, peppermint and boldo, can be a great product to try! Just take 15-20 drops in a little water, 3 times daily.

6. Give up smoking

As you may be aware, people who smoke often develop a cough. This is the body's way of trying to clear out the toxins and chemicals that have entered the airways and lungs through tobacco use. A smoker's cough may be worse during the night as the body tries to expel substances which have been inhaled during the day.

In addition to this, smoking may be linked to acid reflux. Not only can smoke irritate the GI tract, but it may relax muscles in the oesophagus which ensure that stomach acid is not released.

You may find that, if you do decide to quit smoking, you are bothered by a cough for a while afterwards. This is due to your respiratory tract trying to lift all the mucus which has been left from previous 'smokes'. Bronchoforce is a handy product to use here as it can reduce the frequency and violence of coughs, as well as thinning the mucus to make it easier to bring up.

7. Drink honey and lemon before bed

A cup of hot water with a slice of lemon and a teaspoon of honey can often help to soothe irritation and loosen mucus in the throat before you go to sleep. The sticky honey can also leave a protective layer on the back of your throat which may help to prevent coughs during the night. Try the remedy below as a simple way to treat your cough.

A homemade honey remedy:
1) Boil 300ml of water
2) Pour the water into a mug and leave to cool for a few minutes
3) Add 2 tablespoons of good quality honey to the water
4) Squeeze in a little lemon and sip before bed 

Don't forget!

If your cough does not settle despite your best attempts, seek help from your doctor urgently. It is important to get to the cause of any unexplained cough – we do not want to miss a more serious health condition!


Originally published 13 November 2014 (updated 3 December 2019)


What you said!

We recently ran a poll to find out what your favourite dry cough remedy is. We've crunched the numbers and here are the results.

Results: What is your favourite dry cough remedy?

46.2% of you said your favourite dry cough remedy is a hot drink with honey. Great choice! Honey has some antibacterial properties and can be very soothing for a sore throat or dry cough.


Bronchosan - Pine Cough Syrup for dry, tickly, irritating coughs


£ 10.99

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Extract of fresh spruce (pine) shoots and honey. For dry, tickly and irritating coughs.
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Here’s what I recommend

As the A. Vogel Immune System expert, I recommend Bronchosan Pine Cough Syrup to help ease the symptoms of coughs.

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Did you know?

A tickly cough is technically termed as ‘non-productive.’ This is because, unlike a chesty cough, tickly or dry coughs typically bring up little to no phlegm.

What type of cough do you have?

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