6 Ways to Sleep Off a Cold

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation.

Sleep is one of the best medicines when it comes to fighting off colds. It's a big booster for your immune system, improving your body's ability to fend off viruses before they take hold. And when you do get sick, adequate sleep helps you bounce back faster, in part by maximizing the infection-fighting antibodies that your body produces. So what do you do when a cough or stuffy nose is keeping you up at night? These simple strategies can help you manage cold symptoms—so you can get the rest that you need.

Have Some Tea With Honey

Just like the classic chicken noodle soup, any hot soup or beverage can steam up dry nasal passages, making it easier to breathe. So try some tea with honey in it. Remember, honey doesn't just soothe a sore throat—it can also be as effective as cough suppressant meds at quieting a cough.

Take a Steamy Shower

Hot steam in the shower can also open your nasal passages, loosening dried mucous and clearing your airways. Plus, it's a good way to wind down and relax before getting under the covers.
Use a Humidifier

Dry, indoor air and cold season go hand in hand. Luckily, a good humidifier can help to battle both by adding moisture into the air and soothing dry sinuses. But beware: If you don't maintain your humidifier by cleaning it regularly, it can breed mold and bacteria, contributing to the very problems that you're using them to relieve. Keep it clean by changing the water daily and cleaning the tank at least every few days.

Pile Up The Pillows

If it feels like your symptoms get worse as soon as you lie down, you're probably right. That's because when you're horizontal, mucous can collect, causing a cough and even a sore throat. Propping yourself up with pillows helps gravity work to your advantage.

Try Cold and Flu Meds

Decongestants, cough suppressants, expectorants—there are plenty of different medications that can ease symptoms so you can rest. Read labels carefully to try to match the drugs to your symptoms since it's best to avoid combination meds that treat symptoms you don't have. And, at bedtime, steer clear of medications labeled "daytime" or "non-drowsy" since they may have ingredients that could keep you awake.

Don’t Force It

If you can't sleep, get out of bed and move to a different area of your home. Read a book, listen to music, or sip another cup of hot herbal tea. Then try hitting the sack again in another 15 to 30 minutes.

Related Reading:

  • 5 Lifestyle Changes That Reduce Snoring

    Put an end to noisy nights and restless sleep with these easy-to-follow tips. There are some nighttime noises you can’t control, like a rowdy roommate, the neighbor’s howling…

  • Learning to Relax

    No need to go on a yoga retreat: Beat stress with some easy techniques. Stress not only makes you irritable and tense during the day—it can also make it…

  • How to Design the Perfect Bedtime Routine

    Develop these five healthy nightly habits to ease into sleep. Establishing a pre-bedtime routine—a.k.a practicing good “sleep hygiene”—is likely to help you fall asleep more easily at night and…