Bloody Nose while Sleeping

Last Updated: by Marie Seska

Waking up with a bloody nose is actually more common occurrence than you might think. There are a few common causes some more serious than others. Waking up to find your pillow covered in blood can be scary and confusing especially if you sleep in darkness

Many people are overtaken by fear and start to panic after waking up and finding blood on the pillow and sheets. In many cases people are unaware that the blood on their pillow is from their own nose – in some circumstances they might not be able to tell their nose still bleeding.

Nighttime nosebleeds tend not to be painful but still can produce a large amount of blood. If you or a family member suffer from regular nighttime nose bleeds then you need to be familiar with how to stop bleeding, potential causes, prevention and if you need to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Nighttime bloody nose

How to Stop Nighttime Bleeding

Have a bloody nose and need a cure? Use our 3 steps to stop the bleeding and get back to bed!

Step 1 – Tilt Head Forward

First – tilt your head forward to drain all the blood out of your nose. Make sure to be over a sink, bathtub or old towel to clean up the blood. Don’t tilt your head backwards or the blood will run down your throat into your stomach – making you sick!

Step 2 – Apply Pressure

After tilting your head forward to drain the nose of blood we need to stop the blood flow by applying pressure. If it is a small nose bleed you can use your fingers, a cotton ball or wad of toilet paper. Heavier nose bleeds may need a towel or even gauze to contain the bleeding while applying pressure.

Apply pressure for at least 10 minutes to give the blood vessels a chance to clot and the blood flow to stop.

Step 3 – Apply Ice

In severe cases (or if you want it to clot faster) you may need to apply ice. An icepack will lower the temperature of the skin and blood vessels in the nose – making it easier (and faster) for the wound to clot.

6 Causes of Nighttime Bleeds

There are many causes of bloody noses at night – most are not a big deal but if they keep happening you should see a doctor especially if you are a child or pregnant. Let’s review some of the most common causes!

1 - Dry Skin

One of the most common causes is dry skin in and around the nose. Dry skin can be flakey, painful and prone to bleeding if irritated by your pillow, blanket, sheets or rubbing! Treat dry skin with lotion to help it heal and try switching to softer sheets if irritation is a problem!

2 - Dry Air

Dry air is a second common cause that is often present with other causes like dry skin and cold weather – especially if you live in the desert or at high altitude. Dry air can dry out your skin if you catch a cold and have to use a lot of Kleenax.

3 - Cold Weather

A common cause of both dry air and irritated skin from a runny nose bloody noses tend to happen more frequently in cold weather. Adding in extra sneezing and it is easy to wake up with a surprise!

4 - Nose Picking/Rubbing

The most common reason – especially in small children is picking and rubbing the nose. If the skin is already irritated or inflamed it is easy to do enough damage to cause bleeding. This usually happens while sleeping, so it can be difficult to stop!

5 - Allergies

Spring time means pollen and other allergies flare up. Sneezing, runny nose, irritated skin from using Kleenex are all problems caused by allergies that can lead to a bloody nose!

6 - Colds & Respiratory Infections

Most colds and respiratory infections pass in a few days but if you have a sensitive blood vessels in your nose you might wake up with a bloody nose.

5 Ways to Prevent Bleeds

Prevention is key if you don’t want to change your pillow case. We collected a few of our favorite tricks so that you can sleep all night long!

1- Use a Humidifier

Prevention is key if you don’t want to change your pillow case. We collected a few of our favorite tricks so that you can sleep all night long!

2- Try Saline Nasal Spray

Saline nasal spray can be used to clean the nose and constrict blood vessels. Try using the spray about 15 minutes before bed for best results and make sure to have a towel nearby!

3 - Use Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly

Protect the sensitive skin and blood vessels inside your nose with a small amount of Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly. Apply some with a q-tip to the inside of your nose and upper lip to protect the skin. Don’t use too much or you will need to dab some away with a towel.

4 - Stop Picking Nose

If you are a chronic nose picker the best way to stop bleeds is to quit picking. Picking and rubbing greatly increase the chance of nightly nose bleeds so it is best to nip this bad habit in the butt!

5- Use Moisturized Tissue

When you need to blow your nose make sure to use moisturized tissue instead of paper towels or toilet paper. Blowing your nose with “rough” paper is an easy way to irritate your skin and increase your chances of a nightly nosebleed.

When to see a Doctor

You should see a doctor if your nosebleeds are happening multiple times per week or if you wake up and the blood won’t clot after 60 minutes. Nosebleeds typically are not serious but if they repeatedly happen it is a sign something might be wrong! Your doctor will run a series of breathing and nasal test to determine if something is wrong – plus take a look at the inside of your nose. If they see something wrong they will refer you to an ENT specialists.

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