How to Avoid Vertigo When Sleeping, Here Are Your Options!

Posted February 5, 2021 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Vertigo is a fairly common condition that affects an estimated 40 percent of adults over the age of 40. And getting quality sleep while experiencing vertigo symptoms can be very challenging.

So, this article will discuss how to avoid vertigo while sleeping. Here is the quick takeaway answer for you before we get into more of the details.

  • Keep your head elevated using wedge-shaped or travel pillows 
  • Try to sleep on your back
  • Create a stress-relieving bedtime routine
  • Avoid spicy food, caffeine, and looking at bright screens before bed
  • Try breathing exercises before sleeping 
  • Switch to a less salty and healthy diet
  • Opt for therapy or surgery

To begin with, vertigo is a medical condition different from what many assume. Vertigo is not just simple dizziness or that feeling you get if you’re afraid of heights.

How to Avoid Vertigo When Sleeping

Instead, many individuals with vertigo can experience severe spinning, tilting, swaying, or pulling sensations. This can lead to symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, irregular eye movements, and ringing in the ears.

As such, one of the most challenging aspects of vertigo is getting a good night’s sleep. So, below is a detailed overview of how you can avoid vertigo when sleeping. 

Keep your head elevated

Some vertigo patients suffer from sleeping difficulties because of tiny crystals made up of calcium and protein within the inner ear. In vertigo patients, these tiny crystals have grown to the point where they can affect the nerves related to balance.

This effect further worsens when you sleep in a horizontal position. So, keeping your head elevated while sleeping can help you avoid vertigo. 

To help you out, you can use wedge-shaped pillows or travel pillows. These pillows provide more support to your head and neck than traditional pillows, and as such, keeps your head elevated while sleeping.

Try to sleep on your back

When vertigo patients sleep on their back, the ear canal’s calcium crystals are less likely to move around, preventing the onset of symptoms.

Sleeping on your side is more likely to cause the calcium crystals to move to abnormal places and trigger vertigo. This is particularly true if you lay with your bad ear down.

Apart from these, sleeping on your back also helps in keeping fluid from building up. As such sleeping on your back can be one of the best positions to avoid vertigo when sleeping.

Also, don’t forget, sleeping on your back can also be a good position for your spine. Here are more tips on getting a better night’s sleep with back pain.

Create a stress-relieving bedtime routine

A stressed bedtime routine affects two main aspects of your circadian sleep pattern.

Firstly it disturbs your ability to fall asleep, and secondly, it increases the odds of you getting a vertigo attack. So, plan and organize a bedtime routine that can enhance a calm and relaxed mind when going to sleep. 

Be especially sure to choose any activity that can promote calmness for your body. This can be anything varying from yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, reading, or even taking a warm bath.

Avoid spicy food, caffeine, and bright screens before bed

Avoid vertigo when sleeping

Below is a breakdown of why you should avoid each of these when sleeping and how it, in turn, avoids vertigo when sleeping. 

1. Avoid eating spicy food

Eating hot or spicy food disturbs your digestive process. This, in turn, makes it hard for your body to enter into a sleeping state. Or the heat effect in the stomach can make it hard for you to fall asleep until your food is mostly digested.

All these effects lead to sleep deprivation, which exacerbates vertigo. So, at night if you’re having a late dinner just before bedtime, then stick to milder food options. If you have an early dinner, then eating spicy or hot food is okay.

2. Avoid looking at bright screens

The light from bright screens like televisions and phones delay the production of melatonin.

Melatonin is an important hormone that helps your body enter into a sleeping state and help keep you asleep. This, again, can lead to sleep deprivation triggering vertigo attacks while sleeping.

So, try to avoid such bright screen times before bed and maybe focus on reading a book or listening to relaxing music.

3. Avoid caffeine

If you’re a vertigo patient, you should really be looking to avoid caffeine for three main reasons. Firstly, caffeine keeps you awake.

This is similar to eating spicy food and looking at bright screens that can lead to sleep deprivation and therefore exacerbate vertigo.

Secondly, the acid in caffeine can wake you up from your sleep as a result of heartburn. In addition to keeping you awake, the acid in caffeine could also wake you up with heartburn.

Thirdly and finally, the diuretic nature of caffeine may make you want to urinate often. This means that you may need to wake up often in the middle of the night, disturbing your sleeping state.

Further, if you have managed to sleep in a position to avoid sleep vertigo, going to the bathroom and repositioning to try and fall asleep again can all be a hassle to deal with.

So if you’re one of those vertigo patients who makes a concerted and well-planned effort to sleep through the night without waking up to any vertigo attacks, then avoid caffeine after morning hours. 

Breathing exercises before sleep

Many individuals use breathing exercises to get into a sleeping state quicker and more deeply throughout the night. This can prevent sleep disturbances that can trigger a vertigo attack.

There is an exercise called 4-7-8 that may be able to help you to fall asleep much quicker.

This is how the 4-7-8 exercise is believed to work:

  • Inhale through your nose while counting up to four
  • Hold your breath while counting up to seven 
  • Exhale completely with a whooshing sound while counting up to eight

This breathing exercise is believed to work by oxygenating your blood. As a result, it produces a relaxing effect which helps your body to encourage a quicker and deeper sleep. 

Less salt and a healthier diet

If you love salt and salty dishes, you may have to consider reducing them. Because salt is closely linked with vertigo cases, it may disrupt your sleep patterns. 

However, in general, it’s not just salt. The healthier you eat, the better your body will feel and function normally.

As a result, your body will promote healthy habits, including healthy sleeping patterns. This also means that you may have to switch to a healthy diet if you eat a lot of junk or processed food. 

Opt for therapy or surgery

This is something recommended for those experiencing complex or severe cases and cannot avoid vertigo when sleeping. If the above explained simple ways don’t work, you can opt for therapy or even surgery in extreme cases.

Many therapies teach you in-home exercises you can do at home to help improve your sleep patterns and to avoid vertigo when sleeping.

Most of these therapies involve moving quickly from sitting, lying, twisting, and moving the head at different angles.

This helps in rebalancing any crystals or fluid build-up in the inner ear. Finally, only if the therapies don’t seem to work then you may be advised to go for surgery. 

Indeed the necessity of surgery to avoid vertigo when sleeping can be a drastic measure and will only be recommended by your doctor when other options have been exhausted.

This route will clearly depend on the severity of your vertigo condition. You should definitely be discussing with your doctor if surgery is the best route for your case.

To Close

When sleeping, vertigo isn’t necessarily painful, but it can be disorientating, nauseous, and deprive you of much-needed rest.

Consult your doctor for specific ways on how you can avoid vertigo when sleeping. The treatment you need may depend on your specific symptoms and needs.

If you’re having trouble affording any of your medications, enroll with us and see if you qualify to pay only $50 a month for each of your medications.