Tips and Techniques
With the winter months comes cold and flu season. When you're sick, getting enough sleep can be difficult as your body is actively fighting off the virus. However, with a few simple tips, you can make your nights more restful and comfortable.
Try Over-the-Counter Remedies
Explore your local drugstore for medications that may temporarily alleviate your symptoms. Make sure to read the ingredients and dosages before consuming any medications. Some medications should not be taken together, and others may not improve your specific symptoms. If you have questions about what’s right for your illness, consult with the pharmacist before purchasing. Finding the right symptom reliever could mean quieting your cough, clearing your sinuses, and reducing your fever and feelings of achiness, allowing you to enjoy some much-needed, uninterrupted rest. If your symptoms don’t improve soon, or if they seem to be getting worse, contact your doctor to find out if you would benefit from taking prescription medication.
Take a Steamy Hot Shower
A hot shower with lots of steam can help loosen up mucus and soothe your uncomfortable sinuses. Use this time to clear out your runny nose so you can lay off the tissues when you go to bed. The warmth will also relax your tired body, so you’ll be closer to the ideal sleeping temperature and sleep will come more swiftly. Warm up your feet and keep them comfortable in bed to help speed up the process of falling asleep.
Create an Optimal Sleep Environment
Invest in an air purifier to help remove irritants that may further worsen your cold symptoms, or invest in a good humidifier to add moisture to the air that will keep your nose and throat soothed and comfortable. A cool bedroom temperature (around 60-68F) will help reduce sweating and waking up at night, which is particularly important if you’re experiencing a fever.
Increase the amount of water you're taking in as your body loses water via sweat, mucus, and other immune responses. Just be careful not to drink too much before bed or you may be making unwanted trips to the restroom throughout the night. A hot, caffeine-free tea or other caffeine-free beverage is a great way to give your sore throat some relief from cold symptoms in the evening.
Find a Good Sleeping Position
Experts suggest that sleeping on your back can make congestion even worse. Try sleeping on your side, and prop up your pillows so you’re sleeping at a slight angle to help prevent congestion from disrupting your sleep.
Make Sure You’re Sleepy
If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, unable to relax or get comfortable, get out of bed and do something else for a bit. Go into another room to read a book under dim light, listen to music or soothing sounds from a white noise machine, or try some other low-intensity activity until you feel sleepy. Waiting until you feel ready for sleep before getting into bed will promote healthy sleep habits year-round.
The common cold and flu typically last a few weeks at most. Taking preventative measures such as wearing a mask in public spaces, maintaining physical distance from others, frequently washing your hands with soap, using antibacterial hand sanitizer, and avoiding sick friends and family can help keep you healthy. If you do get sick, try implementing these tips to help you get good sleep while keeping in mind that some things may work better or worse for your own body. By following these suggestions, you can be on the fast track to recovery and wake up feeling well-rested and ready to resume your regular activities.
In addition to these tips, it's important to prioritize your health and rest when you're feeling unwell. Allow yourself time to recover by taking a sick day or two off work or school, and try not to overexert yourself with too much activity. Remember that getting enough sleep is crucial for your immune system to fight off the virus, so make sure you're giving your body the rest it needs.
By following these simple tips, you can improve your quality of sleep while battling a cold or flu. While they may not cure your illness, they can certainly help alleviate your symptoms and make the experience more bearable. Remember to always consult with your doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen, and prioritize your health and rest.