In general, we all expect to wake up feeling better than we did the night before. We should wake up rested, clear-minded and brimming with energy for the new day. OK, “brimming with energy” is a bit of a stretch… but waking up with a sore throat is a disappointing way to start your morning and could indicate some nighttime troubles you weren’t aware of.
Demystify your nighttime routine
We asked Bruce Stewart, MD, an otolaryngologist at Banner Health in Tucson, AZ, for his insight into why your throat feels tired or raw when you wake up. “There are many reasons why you might be waking up with a sore throat,” said Dr. Stewart. “You may start by asking yourself a few questions.”
- Have you recently moved to a new home or climate?
- Do you wake up with a sore throat year-round, or just during certain seasons?
- Are you experiencing any other adverse symptoms?
- Has your partner noticed you mouth breathing, snoring or having difficulty breathing?
Getting to the cause of morning throat pain
The answers to these and other questions could help to solve the mystery of what happens after you close your eyes. Be prepared to answer questions like these when you visit your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms. Here are a few possible conditions that could irritate your throat.
- Snoring, sleep apnea (OSA) or similar (To help determine your risk for sleep apnea, fill out our free Sleep Apnea Profiler).
- Not ideal sleep body position
- Temporary illness like a cold or viral infection, like strep throat
- Extreme nighttime conditions, like heat with no AC
- Allergy to bedding or laundry detergent
- Not drinking enough water
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or other gastrointestinal illness
Of course, these conditions aren’t necessarily the root cause, but they could be a helpful clue to identify your underlying issue. For example, a poor sleeping position could be causing you to breathe through your mouth at night. But your poor position could be a symptom of an unsupportive mattress. Likewise, snoring may be the cause of your sore throat. But snoring is often a symptom of other conditions such as obesity or having a narrow airway.
Dr. Stewart listed snoring, allergies and GERD as the most common causes of a sore throat in the morning. Have you brought a new plant into your room recently? Are you trying a new laundry detergent? Did you enjoy one too many hot links for dinner?
Treatment options for a sore throat
If your symptoms are new and manageable, you may try a few home remedies before speaking with your doctor. Dr. Stewart offered a few tips to pamper your airway tonight.
- Bedside humidifiers, which combat dry air, can help with snoring and congestion.
- Antihistamines are another option to help decrease the effects of your allergies.
- If GERD or acid reflux is behind your sore throat, over-the-counter antacids such as Nexium or Prilosec can counteract acid reactions in your gut. You may also try elevating your head with a few pillows under your shoulders and head. Or you can try elevating the head of your bed by about 4 inches by placing books under two bedposts.
- Gargle with salt water.
What to do if your sore throat persists
These home remedies may be enough to mitigate your scratchy throat symptoms. But if your sore throat persists, you may need to speak to your doctor to find the real cause behind your discomfort.
You can learn more about what your sleep habits say about your overall health in these similar articles written with help from Banner Health doctors and experts.