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Mind that I don't have a cold or anything, and that I don't have a problem while awake, but when I put my head on the pillow and try to sleep it's really hard to breath through my nose.

I assumed this is normal until my girlfriend had a cold and I tried one of her nose sprays containing oxymetazoline and wow the difference in breathing while sleeping has been huge! I felt so much better.

Now, obviously I cannot use the nasal spray forever due to the active ingredient. Many people swore by various saline solutions, so I tried both saline-based sprays and neti pots, yet they seem to do more harm than good or at least I feel no difference.

Is there anything else I could try or is there an underlying problem here?

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    Dust mites. Change your pillow case every night. – SurpriseDog Jul 11 at 15:59
  • I'll try this too. Is there a way to test this is the cause? Or at least that the cause is an allergic reaction? Would taking antihistamines like @piojo is advising a way to test this hypotesis (assuming they do work on me) ? – user28010 Jul 12 at 16:17
  • Sure there's a way to test it: Keep a journal by your bedside and log your symptoms every morning. After several weeks of experimenting, look through the log for patterns and find out what works. – SurpriseDog Jul 12 at 16:19
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    Question: do the symptoms correlate with place (= your bed) or position (= lying down)? If it’s the latter, contact your ENT doctor and have your upper airways checked. – Stephie Jul 12 at 21:43
  • Definitely bed time @Stephie – user28010 Jul 22 at 9:30
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I know this is a little bit of an old question, but since none of the existing questions are accepted, I'm going to make a run at it.

In a comment on virolino's answer, the OP says Problem is that there is nothing really to "blow".

As someone who has had sinus problems my whole life, this has 3 possibilities I can see. I'm not a doctor, so there's probably other options, too.

  1. With changing position, the contents of your sinuses are moving around. Try blowing when you are laying down, if you haven't already.

Does rolling onto your side(s) or stomach change your ability to breathe?

  1. You might have something in your throat, like an extra flap, that's closing when you lay down, hindering your breathing. There's already flaps in your throat to do this sort of thing. If you don't use them properly, or if they are somehow damaged and don't respond appropriately, they could be causing problems. You should see a doctor about this.

Is it only in your bedroom or anywhere you lay down?

  1. If it's only in your bedroom, you might have some allergies. It could be your bed sheets, as others mentioned, or it could be your mattress, pillow, carpet, or 1000 other things. If you have a lampshade nearby, it could be dusty and causing this reaction. I used to read paper books, but the dust/mites and the mold (warm & humid climate) would drift off as I read, falling on the pillowcase and sheets, so even when I wasn't reading, it was still an issue. I tried wearing a dust mask to read, but that didn't help the dust on the sheets. I've also been allergic to the pillow itself.
    If it's anywhere you lay down, see option #2 above.

To address the dust/mites/mold issue, I stopped reading paper books and went strictly e-books. I still like having books, but I have to keep them in a fully enclosed/sealed bookcase so they don't cause me problems.

I also wear BreatheRight (sold at most department type stores such as Walmart, Target, and CVS) strips to bed. They open my nasal passages to allow more airflow. When I first tried them, I found that I was more fully rested while actually needing fewer hours of sleep. I'm not saying this will fix your issue, but it's about the only "LifeHack" thing I can think of to try, and it's still not a real lifehack.

This seems more like a medical condition you need to see a doctor about. Consider talking to them about seeing an allergist to determine if that's even part of your issue.

I hope you've tried the medical route in the past month, but if you haven't you should. If nothing else, it'll help you rule out possibilities.

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    Thanks a lot! Indeed, I have made an appointment to see an ENT, though I will buy the nasal strips. – user28010 Aug 15 at 16:47
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That is a symptom of an allergy, or another kind of allergy-like condition. It happens occasionally to me too, but it does not bother me so much to make me start looking for a cure.

Since it happens only when going to bed, then it is "obvious": there is something about the bed which triggers your (our) "stuffing". Most likely, you are sensitive to dust mites and their "work-products".

There are two classes of actions you can take.

  1. Short term care of the effects

    • Destroy the colony of dust mites. Boiling sheets / pillow cases, UV disinfection - Internet is full of advice on this.
    • Use a "nose de-stuffer" - as you already explained that you did. Of course, using a strong chemical as a life-style is not at all recommended. Try to find alternatives. I noticed that regardless of the strength of the stuffing, a simple sneeze will unblock my nose and I can breathe, for some time. I wanted for a long time (but I am still lazy about it) to try to sniff some pepper dust when I am stuffed, to cause a sneeze. To see if it works :)
  2. Fight the real problem.

Of course, the real problem is your (our) weak immunity. If the problem is "temporary", then the condition can be improved. You will need help from competent doctors and labs, to find what is wrong and overcome the problem.

Mild / temporary allergies are generated by any one and any combination of the following:

  • poisoning with heavy metals (mercury, cadmium, aluminum...); simple lab tests can show even traces of them in your body, although these tests might not be cheap; if the test is positive, then you need medical advice on how to remove the metals from your body;
  • other toxic substances; pesticides, formaldehyde, "food" additives... I do not know if / how they can be detected or removed from your body. Even if you cannot remove them, you can help your body by reducing the intake. Make sure that whatever you eat / drink does not contain them (to any reasonable extent). Find clean sources of food. Buy only fresh vegetables, or frozen. If they are canned, they definitely have additives (at least preservatives). Buy "live meat" and sacrifice the animal yourself. This is going to be quite difficult with pork and cattle, but it works nicely with fish. Basic rule: if it was processed industrially (including 100% natural juices) then they have any number of additives.
  • parasites: bacteria, viruses, fungus, worms... They can be quite tricky to identify and kill / remove from your body. A good specialist and a good lab are your only chance to get rid of them.

Good luck on your quest.

  • Problem is that there is nothing really to "blow". Like I said, during daytime I'm fine. It's at nighttime the moment I put my head down that I breath only with difficulty :( – user28010 Jul 12 at 16:15
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This is one potential symptom of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Honestly, this sounds more like a see a doctor kind of thing than a life-hack, but looking into symptom management on those should give you some ideas.

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It's too pat to assume everything that has a root cause can be treated. It's fine to treat the symptoms if you can't find a cause.

First, you should try antihistamines. They are cheap. Different drugs have a slightly different effect.

You can also use nasal steroids, which are meant to be taken long term. They don't even have an effect until you take them consistently for weeks to months. They don't help me, but other people like them.

Lastly, you can flush your nose with a saline spray, either using a net pot, needle-less syringe, or pressurized spray can. The effect from all three is different (as different amounts of saline go to different places). Look up instructions online for whichever one you use, as doing it wrong can be dangerous. Why is salt water a good decongestant? I'm not sure anyone knows. How long does it last? Not as long as a drug decongestant, but safer to take every day.

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    I don't think antihistamines can be taken long-term either nor steroids. Neither of those options sound... healthy. – user28010 Jul 12 at 10:54
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    @user28010 What research did you do to arrive at that opinion? I don't expect you to simply believe me (a perfect stranger), but next time you see a doctor, ask him if nasal steroids and oral antihistamines are safe in the long term. I don't think they charge extra for a question. Or ask your friends if they have allergies, and if so, ask them about meds. Don't do yourself the disservice of trusting too much without verifying (even if the one you are trusting is you!). What "sounds" healthy is a poor way of figuring out what is actually healthy. Especially when you are probably losing sleep. – piojo Jul 12 at 12:42
  • Fair enough @piojo . – user28010 Jul 12 at 15:43

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