You need more rest than usual when you have a cold or the flu, but coughing and congestion can leave you tossing and turning all night. Try these simple methods you can perform on your own or with a little help from your doctor and pharmacist. You’ll sleep better and strengthen your immune system.
DIY Strategies for Sleeping Well When You Have a Cold
- Adjust your pillow. Forget about the outdated advice to prop your head up with an extra pillow. You’ll wind up with a stiff neck, and pushing your chin towards your chest blocks your airways. Instead, arrange your pillows so that you elevate yourself starting at the waist. You could also try lifting the head of your bed by placing books or bricks underneath the legs.
- Take a shower. Drain your sinuses with hot steam. Sitting near the shower is just as good as stepping inside if you want to keep your hair dry.
- Moisturize the air. Heated indoor air can irritate your throat during the winter. Keep a pot of water simmering on the stove during waking hours. Set out bowls of water. Be sure to change them each day to prevent bacteria from growing.
- Sip water. Begin hydrating from within. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water daily.
- Drink tea. Stock up on decaffeinated tea. Choose chamomile and other herbal blends formulated to help make you drowsy.
- Eat something. A stuffy nose can interfere with your appetite. Push yourself to keep eating. In addition to preserving your strength, you’re likely to sleep more on a full stomach.
- Breathe through your nose. Of course, you’ll probably need to breathe through your mouth when your cold is at its peak. Still, returning to nasal breathing as soon as possible will reduce further irritation to your throat.
- Cough less. Some coughs are productive when they expel mucus. On the other hand, it’s worthwhile to try to suppress prolonged and dry coughing that just makes your throat sore. Pause a second and check to see if you still feel like coughing.
- Go to bed on time. The good news is that you may be sleeping more than you think even if you feel like you lay awake all night. Lie down and think about something boring. If you must get up, leave the TV and computer off.
- Meditate regularly. Deep meditation provides many of the same benefits as sleep. A consistent practice will help you to focus your mind even when you have a fever.
How Your Doctor and Pharmacist Can Help
- Check ingredients in cold remedies. Pick a cold medicine that treats your individual symptoms rather than dosing yourself with more chemicals than you need. Avoid ingredients that may make you jittery like pseudoephedrine and diphenhydramine.
- Wear nasal strips. Start out with nasal strips that you wear on the outside of your nose to hold your passageways open. They provide relief without any adverse side effects, and they’re comfortable enough to wear in bed.
- Use a decongestant spray. If you require something stronger, try a nasal spray. Look for saline solutions or formulas with oxymetazoline or xylometazline. Use sprays for only a few days at a time to avoid any rebound effect.
- See your doctor. If symptoms persist or become more severe, talk with your doctor. Your health team can help you to avoid any complications.
A good night’s sleep will help you to feel more comfortable and recover faster. If you’re like most adults, you probably catch at least one cold a year, so help your body fight off infection day and night.