Waking up Congested? Here’s Why and What to Do About it

Wakeup relaxed with Humidifiers

So you woke up from what was supposed to be a good night’s sleep only to feel heavy and congested. Well, you deserve better. To set you off to a great day, below are some of the main culprits behind congestion, along with what you can do about them.

Congested When Waking Up? Here’s Why

Congestion, AKA stuffiness and runny nose, is commonly triggered by allergens that cause the immune system to release antibodies, which in turn stimulate histamine production. Found mainly in bodily tissues, histamine is a compound that causes blood vessel constriction, leading to the overproduction of nasal secretions.

All that said, if you want to avoid feeling congested when waking up, you first need to pinpoint the main allergens that keep you from singing in the morning.

Reasons Why the Family is Waking Up Congested

Humidifiers for Air Pollution


There’s no escaping congestion when nasal irritants are already invading your home. Common among city dwellers, indoor air pollution–which irritate the respiratory tract–mainly comes from outdoor gases and particulate matter that creep through small window and wall cracks. Just imagine what happens when you open your windows to let a little air in. As these sneaky pollutants circulate inside your home, you become more prone to feel congested when waking up.

Quick Fix: Since fighting air pollution is not a one-man job, there’s really nothing you can do to get rid of all outdoor air pollutants. However, you can always take control of what stays in your home by taking a proactive approach in keeping your indoor air clean. How? By religiously changing your air filters and investing in an air purifier, which basically filters air impurities.

Pro Tip: Make your one-time investment count by choosing purifier with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, which traps a variety of irritants such as mould spores, allergens, and pollen.

Humidifiers for Pet Dander

Pet Dander

Animal lover or not, pet dander can always find its way into your home, especially if your house was previously owned by someone with a pet. Pet dander, which is mainly found in the skin, saliva, and sweat of cats or dogs, can linger in a particular area for months. Once inhaled, these particles can trigger an allergic reaction, which causes congestion.

Quick Fix: Controlling pet dander always goes hand-in-hand with responsible pet ownership. Aside from limiting where your pet goes, you should also put regular grooming into practice so you can prevent dead skin cells from accumulating. Regularly vacuuming your home can also help lessen air impurities.

Pro Tip: If you always find yourself feeling congested when waking up despite all these measures, it may be time for you to invest in a HEPA air filter and an anti-allergen spray.

Humidifiers for AirDust


Almost invisible to the naked eye, dust mites are filled with microscopic airborne allergens that can easily increase your likelihood of feeling congested when waking up. As dust remains suspended in the air, it slowly crawls into beddings, carpets, and other household upholstery. Prolonged exposure to these particles may lead to an allergic reaction.

Quick Fix: Regularly washing beddings, mattresses, and pillows may not always be enough to ward off dust mites, especially since they are carried by air. However, by cleaning your home with allergy-friendly products, you can keep these viscous allergens to a minimum.

Pro Tip: If you are planning to build a new home, invest in hard flooring instead of a carpeted one to minimize dust (and pet dander) buildup.

Humidifiers for Dry Air

Dry Air

During the colder months of the year, the air’s moisture level significantly drops, causing air dryness. The same principle applies to fully air-conditioned rooms. As a natural physiologic response, the body increases its mucus production, which facilitates oxygen transfer to the blood. As the process continues, the oversecretion of mucus eventually leads to congestion.

Quick Fix: So the air is dry and you don’t know how to avoid waking up congested. The solution here is quite simple. Invest in a portable or a whole-house humidifier as these household tools are efficient in adding moisture back into the air.

Pro Tip: Plants are great at increasing humidity in the air, so it might be a good idea to start adding greenery into your home. But before doing so, check the air’s humidity level–which is ideally 40% to 50%–because most plants may not survive at humidity levels less than 30%.

Tobacco Smoke-Reasons to waking up congested

Tobacco Smoke

It’s hard to eliminate smoking in the context of nasal congestion since it compromises respiratory processes. Even if you don’t smoke, tobacco particles that circulate around your home, and eventually enters your household, disrupt your airways. To compensate, the body overproduces secretions when the body is fully rested, explaining why you feel congested only when waking up.

Quick Fix: How to avoid waking up congested? The answer is quite obvious. Quit smoking if you’re a smoker or avoid smoking areas if you aren’t. If you fall in the first category but you can’t find the will to quit, at least avoid smoking inside or around your home. Also, encourage proper air ventilation by opening your windows, and make sure that you are regularly cleaning your home.

Pro Tip: Smoker or not, it’s always best that you invest in an air purification system so you can get rid of all possible reasons why the family is waking up congested.

Mold – reasons to waking up congested


Mold exists under damp conditions, making the bathroom, the basement, and other parts of your home susceptible to mold formation. And just when you think that things can’t get uglier, these molds release spores, which are potent allergens. Without regular maintenance, your home can be a breeding ground for mold spores, subsequently increasing your likelihood for nasal congestion.

Quick Fix: If you always feel congested when waking up, you need to check for mold formation in damp areas in your home, along with cracks and crevices that may cause water leakage. You can prevent further mold growth by the use of bleach and other cleaning agents.   

Pro Tip: Molds on cracks and crevices can be treated with a mold spray. Also, regularly close your bathroom door so your room won’t get too damp.


Congestion isn’t always a sign of an underlying physical problem. At times, it’s just a wake up call that tells you that there is something you need to fix within your home. From visible molds to microscopic air impurities, countless reasons why the family is waking up congested can be hiding just under your bed, making regular household maintenance a necessity not just for you, but for your loved ones.

About the Author

Marjorie Joy Sta. Ines is a free-spirited writer who believes that writing is an art form. For her, ideas, when spoken–or in this case, written–with mindfulness, can help bridge gaps between people.

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