Nosebleeds at Night: Why and What to Do About Them

Nosebleeds are scary at the best of times, but that fear intensifies if you have them during the night and wake up with blood on your pillow.

The good news is that there is usually nothing to worry about. Unless you’re getting them regularly or they don’t stop after 15 minutes, there is often an innocuous cause.

What Causes Nose Bleeding When You Are Asleep?

The causes of night-time nosebleeds are much the same as daytime ones. It can be harder to pinpoint them if they’re happening when you sleep, but the answer is often just as clear-cut and can include one of the following:

Dry Skin

If you spend a lot of time indoors with the heating on, your skin will become dry and chapped, and the same applies to your nasal passages. When those thin membranes dry-up, they become more prone to breaking and bleeding, potentially causing nosebleeds.

This is more common during the winter months but can occur anytime your skin becomes dry and cracked.

You can prevent this by using a saline nasal spray to keep your nasal passages moist before bedtime. Humidifiers will also add moisture to dry environments.

Blowing Your Nose

Blowing your nose can rupture the blood vessels, leading to nosebleeds. This can happen day or night, so it’s important to blow gently and avoid being too forceful.

If you have allergies, the risk is greater. Not only are you more likely to blow your nose, but you may also be using steroidal nasal sprays and suffering from nasal dryness, both of which increase the risk of nosebleeds. 

Sinus Infections

If you have a cold, flu, or sinus infection, your nasal passages may become dry and damaged, leading to possible night-time nosebleeds. Sneezing, blowing your nose, and generally trying to shift all of that mucous takes its toll.

There’s not much you can do to prevent this. You just need to stay hydrated, blow gently, and rub a little Vaseline on your nose if you feel that it’s becoming dry and cracked.

When you’re suffering from a cold or flu, the last thing you want is to have nosebleeds on top of that. The good news, however, is that they should stop when your sinuses clear up and you give your nose a break.

Nose Picking

Nose picking is one of the most common causes of nosebleeds and can occur at any age and at any time of the day. If you have sharp fingernails or you pick excessively, you can damage the thin membranes and cause a rupture, leading to a nose bleed.

Of course, this rarely happens while you sleep, but if you spend some time reading or watching TV before going to sleep, you may be picking your nose (consciously or not) and triggering night-time nosebleeds.

Is it Even a Nosebleed?

Last but not least, if it was an isolated incident, with minimal blood on the pillow and none around your nose, it may not have been a nosebleed at all.

Blood on your pillow is a scary sight, and in those moments, your mind has a tendency to jump to conclusions. It’s like when you find spots of red in your stool.

Your immediate reaction is to panic and spend the next hour frantically Googling non-existent symptoms, only to remember that you ate beets the night before.

The “blood” could be dirt, hair dye, makeup, or a tanning solution. It could stem from a cut lip or ear. If you let your pets on the bed, they may also be the ones with a problem. Little paws poke into places they shouldn’t be, and it’s not uncommon for them to get cuts and leave their mark on your linen.

Maybe a scab fell or a zit popped; maybe you cut yourself shaving. You should also check your hands, as they are more likely to suffer cuts and abrasions and the blood can find its way onto your pillow during the night.