Why Is My Child’s Asthma Worse At Night?

Life with a child who has asthma can be frightening when they have a flare up, but it can be even more worrisome when it occurs at night. Waking up hearing your child wheezing and coughing not only disrupts everyone’s sleep, but it could mean they are getting sicker.  Many parents wonder, “why is my child’s asthma worse at night?”

Symptoms And Dangers Of Nocturnal Asthmachild with asthma.

The chances of having asthma symptoms is higher during sleep. Nocturnal asthma symptoms of a tight chest, shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing accompanied by sleep disturbance is commonplace, but can be serious.

A child with nocturnal asthma is chronically sleepy during the daytime making them more susceptible to falling asleep at school, suffering from decreased concentration and performance. In addition, when a child is overtired, they can be cranky and misbehave.

Parents are likely sleep deprived too, so speak with your pediatrician about specific treatments for nocturnal asthma.

No one knows exactly why it is worse during sleep, but there are some known triggers.

Being In A Reclining Position

When your child is lying down there is more accumulated drainage and post nasal drip, increased air resistance, and increased blood in the lungs.

Increased Exposure To Allergens

Your child’s bedding, sheets, pillows, and mattresses might have dust mites, mold and other allergens to trigger their symptoms.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when the sphincter at the lower end of the esophagus leading to the stomach does not close properly after eating. It leads to stomach acid re-entering the esophagus. If your child wakes up with this nasty taste and discomfort, they may have GERD which is making their asthma worse.

Sleep Itself

Just sleeping can trigger asthma symptoms since it affects bronchial function.

What Parents Can Do

There are a number of ways to reduce nocturnal asthma.

Try some of the following:

  • Frequently wash all sheets and pillowcases in hot water.
  • Keep the bedroom area clean of dust. Wipe down shelves, dressers, or anything that can collect dust.
  • Never allow an animal to sleep in your child’s bedroom.
  • For children (not infants) add some extra pillows or place blocks under the mattress to elevate your child’s head. This will reduce any GERD symptoms.

There are pros and cons to having a humidifier, so speak with your physician before putting one in the bedroom.

Contact Elmwood Pediatrics for treatment if your child’s asthma is worse at night.

This entry was posted in Asthma.

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