What Causes Morning Sneezing Illustration

What Causes Morning Sneezing: Explained (2024)

by | Updated: May 27, 2024

Morning sneezing can be a frustrating and uncomfortable way to start the day for many individuals.

While sneezing is a natural bodily response, understanding the causes behind this phenomenon can help you take steps to minimize its impact on your daily routine.

In this article, we will explore the various factors that contribute to morning sneezing, such as allergies, sleep environment, rhinitis, postnasal drip, and nasal dryness.

By identifying these potential triggers and consulting with a healthcare professional, you can devise a targeted approach to alleviate your morning sneezing and start your day on a more pleasant note.

What Causes Morning Sneezing?

Morning sneezing is a common occurrence for many people, and there are various potential causes for this phenomenon.

Sneezing is typically a reflex action that removes irritants from the nasal passages, and factors such as allergens, irritants, or medical conditions can all contribute to morning sneezing.

Allergens, such as pollen and dust mites, are common triggers of sneezing, especially in individuals who suffer from allergies. Pollen counts tend to be higher in the morning, which can exacerbate allergy symptoms and lead to sneezing upon waking up.

In addition to allergens, nonallergic rhinitis can also be responsible for morning sneezing, as it may cause symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, and coughing.

Other factors, such as sinusitis or nasal irritants like fumes and dust, can also trigger sneezing upon waking up. Certain medications and weather changes might also contribute to morning sneezing in some individuals.

Common Causes of Morning Sneezing


Morning sneezing can often be attributed to allergies. Common allergens that trigger morning sneezing include pollen, dust mites, and pet dander.

Pollen counts tend to be higher in the morning, leading to increased allergy symptoms for those affected by hay fever or other seasonal allergies.

Dust mites are present in and around beds, causing irritation during and after sleep. Likewise, pet dander may accumulate in the bedroom, exacerbating allergies at the start of the day.

Non-Allergic Rhinitis

In some cases, morning sneezing may be caused by non-allergic rhinitis. This condition involves the irritation of nasal tissues without an allergic reaction.

Non-allergic rhinitis can be triggered by various factors, such as weather changes, dust, fumes, and even certain medications.

For some people, non-allergic rhinitis may manifest as morning sneezing due to the specific irritants present during the night or upon waking.


Sneezing in the morning can also be caused by infections, such as the common cold or flu viruses. These respiratory illnesses often result in the inflammation of nasal passages, which in turn can trigger sneezing.

Additionally, sinusitis, an infection of the sinus cavities, may provoke sneezing fits as the mucus flow disturbs nasal linings upon waking.

Environmental Factors

There are several environmental factors that can contribute to morning sneezing. These factors often influence allergies and can trigger sneezing in individuals who are prone to allergic reactions.

Below are some common environmental factors that may cause morning sneezing.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are microscopic insects that thrive in warm and humid environments. They can be found in mattresses, pillows, carpets, and upholstery, and their feces and body parts can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Inhaling these particles in the morning may lead to sneezing, as the allergens in the air trigger the body’s immune system response.


Pollen is another common cause of morning sneezing. Plants release pollen into the air during specific seasons, and this can trigger allergies for those who are sensitive to it.

Pollen particles can easily enter homes through windows and doors, leading to morning sneezing episodes as people are exposed while they sleep.

Pet Dander

Pet dander, which consists of tiny particles of skin and fur from animals, can also be a trigger for morning sneezing.

Pet owners, in particular, may find themselves sneezing in the morning as they breathe in these allergens that have accumulated overnight in their homes or on their bedding.

Mold Spores

Mold spores can be present in damp or humid environments and can easily be inhaled by people in their homes.

These spores can trigger allergic reactions, and if present in the bedroom or other areas of the home, individuals may experience morning sneezing as they wake up and breathe in the allergens.

Lifestyle Factors

Several lifestyle factors can contribute to morning sneezing. Some of these factors include smoking, stress, and poor sleep hygiene.

Understanding and addressing these factors can help alleviate morning sneezing.


Smoking can irritate the nasal passages, leading to sneezing in the morning. Cigarette smoke contains numerous harmful chemicals and toxins, which can cause inflammation and irritation in the nasal mucosa.

This inflammation can lead to sneezing, nasal congestion, and other allergy-like symptoms. Quitting smoking or reducing exposure to secondhand smoke can help minimize morning sneezing.


Stress can indirectly contribute to morning sneezing by weakening the immune system. A weakened immune system is less able to combat allergens and irritants, making allergy symptoms more pronounced.

In addition, stress can also lead to changes in sleep patterns, further aggravating morning sneezing.

Focusing on stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or regular exercise, can help improve immune system function and potentially reduce morning sneezing.

Poor Sleep Hygiene

Poor sleep hygiene can exacerbate morning sneezing, as allergens and irritants may accumulate in the bedroom environment.

Some factors that may contribute to poor sleep hygiene include an old or dirty mattress, an unclean bedroom, and exposure to allergens like dust mites and pet dander.

To improve sleep hygiene and reduce morning sneezing, consider the following:

  • Regularly wash bedding and vacuum the bedroom to remove allergens.
    Use dust mite-proof covers on pillows and mattresses.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom if you suffer from pet dander allergies.
  • Remove sources of strong odors, as they can also irritate the nasal passages.

By addressing these lifestyle factors, you can work towards reducing morning sneezing and improving your overall well-being.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Medical History and Physical Examination

A healthcare professional will usually start the diagnosis process by gathering information about the patient’s medical history, such as past illnesses and medications.

They will also conduct a physical examination, particularly focusing on the nasal area, to identify any signs of inflammation or infection.

Allergy Testing

If morning sneezing appears to be allergy-related, allergy testing may be recommended. This can include skin prick tests, blood tests, or a combination of both.

These tests help determine the specific allergens causing the sneezing and can guide suitable treatment options.


Treating morning sneezing typically depends on the underlying cause. For instance, in cases of allergic rhinitis, antihistamines can be effective in reducing symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose.

These medications counteract the histamine that causes these issues. Other medications, such as corticosteroid nasal sprays, may also be prescribed to help with inflammation and congestion.

Home Remedies

Some home remedies can help manage morning sneezing symptoms, including:

  • Using a humidifier in the bedroom to maintain moisture in the air
  • Regularly cleaning the home to reduce allergens like dust mites and pet dander
  • Keeping windows closed to limit exposure to outdoor allergens
  • Using a saline nasal spray to clear nasal passages and reduce inflammation

Implementing these home remedies, along with following any prescribed treatment, can help alleviate morning sneezing and improve your overall quality of life.

Prevention and Management Tips

Managing morning sneezing involves a combination of allergen avoidance, maintaining a clean living environment, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits.

Allergen Avoidance

In order to minimize morning sneezing caused by allergies, it is essential to identify and avoid exposure to allergens. Some common allergens include pollen, dust, mold, and pet dander.

One way to reduce allergic reactions is to avoid spending extended periods outside during times when pollen counts are high, typically in the early morning hours.

Wearing a mask during outdoor activities can also help in limiting exposure to allergens.

Clean Living Environment

Maintaining a clean and healthy living environment can significantly reduce the occurrence of morning sneezing.

Regular cleaning measures, such as dusting and vacuuming, can help keep allergens like dust and pet dander at bay.

Additionally, it is essential to reduce mold exposure by keeping the home dry and moisture-free. Using allergy-proof covers on mattresses, pillows, and box springs can also help minimize dust mite exposure.

Maintaining Healthy Habits

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can improve the immune system and reduce the frequency of morning sneezing.

Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and a balanced diet can all contribute to overall well-being and help the body better manage allergic reactions.

Over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines and corticosteroid nasal sprays, can provide relief from allergy symptoms.

Examples of oral antihistamines include:

  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • Fexofenadine (Allegra)
  • Loratadine (Claritin)

Make sure to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new medication regimen.

FAQs About Morning Sneezing

Why Do I Sneeze in the Morning?

Sneezing in the morning can be caused by several factors. Exposure to allergens like dust mites in bedding, mold, or pollen can trigger sneezing.

Changes in temperature or humidity can also irritate nasal passages.

Morning sneezing can also result from particles accumulating in the nose while sleeping, leading to irritation upon waking.

If it’s consistent, allergies or other conditions like non-allergic rhinitis might be at play. Consult a doctor if it persists or is bothersome.

Final Thoughts

Morning sneezing can be attributed to a range of factors, including allergies, sleep environment, rhinitis, postnasal drip, and nasal dryness.

By understanding these causes, individuals can take proactive steps to minimize their discomfort and improve their morning experience.

Note: It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the specific cause of your morning sneezing and receive personalized guidance on the most effective solutions.

Through targeted interventions and environmental adjustments, you can alleviate your symptoms and enjoy a more comfortable, sneeze-free start to your day.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.


  • Songu M, Cingi C. Sneeze reflex: facts and fiction. Ther Adv Respir Dis. 2009 Jun;3(3):131-41. doi: 10.1177/1753465809340571. Epub 2009 Jul 17. PMID: 19617285.
  • Valeii, Kathi. “An Overview of Morning Allergies.” Verywell Health, Sept. 2021, www.verywellhealth.com/morning-allergies-overview-5199321.
  • Chaplin DD. Overview of the immune response. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Feb;125(2 Suppl 2):S3-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2009.12.980. PMID: 20176265; PMCID: PMC2923430.
  • Segerstrom SC, Miller GE. Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychol Bull. 2004 Jul;130(4):601-30. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.601. PMID: 15250815; PMCID: PMC1361287.
  • Irish LA, Kline CE, Gunn HE, Buysse DJ, Hall MH. The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep Med Rev. 2015 Aug;22:23-36. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.001. Epub 2014 Oct 16. PMID: 25454674; PMCID: PMC4400203.

Recommended Reading