Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult when you’ve got a cold or flu. Whether it’s a blocked nose, tickly cough, headache, muscle aches or shivering, getting some shut-eye can feel like hard work. When we’re already feeling tired and drained, a poor night's sleep will definitely not help.
Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for helping the immune system fight infection, so I thought I’d share some of my top tips to help you sleep better.
For a blocked nose
1) Prop your head up
When you’ve got a cold or flu, you’ll be more than aware that the nose tends to produce excess mucus to help flush out viruses and bacteria. During the day, gravity helps this mucus drain from the nose or down the back of the throat – when you lie down at night, however, suddenly this mucus becomes trapped in the nasal passages, making it harder to breathe through the nose.
This means that you end up breathing through your mouth, which has the unfortunate effect of drying out the throat, causing irritation, pain or a tickly cough.
To combat this, prop your head a little higher with an extra pillow. This helps mucus to drain more freely from the nasal passages and down the back of the throat.
If this extra height is causing stiffness in the neck, try adding another pillow under your shoulders, to lift the whole upper body up rather than just your head, reducing the angle on the neck.
2) Natural decongestants
Thick mucus will have a trickier time draining from the nose, so before going to bed it’s a good idea to flush as much out as possible. To do this I’d recommend using a nasal spray such as our Sinuforce – it contains a blend of congestion-blasting essential oils in a saline solution.
This spray has the benefit of being free from steroids and other harsh chemicals that can damage the nasal passages further.
"This really helped my husband when he was dealing with blocked sinus problem which nothing else had fixed. His sinus problem was cleared in a couple of days after using the product.”
3) Drop some essential oils onto your pillow
You can’t spend the whole night clearing your nostrils with a nasal spray, so dropping a few drops of essential oils onto your pillow before you go to sleep is a great way to prevent congestion throughout the night.
Some of the best oils for congestion include peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree. You’ll find both peppermint and eucalypts in our Po-Ho Oil, as well as juniper, caraway and fennel essential oils.
For a cough or sore throat
4 ) Lemon and honey
If a cough or dry throat is causing your sleep problems then I can’t recommend a hot lemon and honey drink enough! The sticky honey coats the back of the throat, helping to soothe and protect it – great for tickly coughs or irritation. The lemon can also help to loosen catarrh in the nose and chest, so it’s great for blocked noses and chesty coughs too.
During the day I’d recommend a big mug of this, but at night you don’t want to drink too much or you’ll be woken up by another problem – needing to use the bathroom! Instead, half-fill a mug with hot water, a spoon of honey and a squeeze of lemon juice.
5) Try a cough remedy
Arguably the worst cough for keeping you awake at night is the dry, tickly cough. This annoying cough is often triggered by irritation in the throat, meaning that simply breathing can trigger it as the dry air hits the back of your throat. For this type of cough, I’d recommend our pine cough syrup. It contains pine extract as well as honey, pear juice and pine oil to create a soothing, sticky syrup to protect your throat.
For a chesty cough, you might want to try Bronchoforce instead. This contains a mix of Ivy, Thyme and Liquorice which can help to loosen congestion that’s stuck in the chest.
For muscle aches
6) Hot bath
With a flu or more severe cold, you might be experiencing a dull ache in your limbs, neck and shoulders which can definitely make getting comfortable difficult. To combat this, paracetamol may be enough, but it’s important to take the paracetamol content of any cold and flu remedies you’re taking into account.
If you’re not keen on paracetamol, or if it isn’t helping then there are a few things you could try.
I’d firstly recommend a long, hot bath before bed. You can add a muscle-soothing bath soak or bubble bath, but the hot water itself should help to loosen the muscles and soothe aches. Plus, the steam from the bath will help to clear up congestion!
While aches and pains with a cold or flu are often widespread, occasionally they are more concentrated in the neck and shoulders. For these localised aches, I’d suggest trying an arnica gel such as Atrogel. You might know arnica gel as a treatment for bruising, but it is also a great way to ease muscle aches and joint pain.
8) Pay attention to the ingredients in cold and flu medicines
You might be taking a decongestant, hot drink or other cold and flu remedy, but it’s important to check the label for any ingredients that might hinder sleep.
Many of these remedies contain caffeine, which is great during the day when you’re feeling a bit sluggish and lethargic, but at night when you’re trying to get some recovery sleep, the last thing you want is caffeine keeping you awake!
In addition, some of the hot drinks available at your local pharmacy will contain lots of sugar, which will have a similar effect to caffeine.
If you're looking for a low sugar, caffeine free and paracteamol free hot drink for colds and flu, I'd recommend our own Echinaforce Hot Drink, a soothing drink with a sweet black elderberry. It's a tasty, comforting drink that's great for easing particularly severe symptoms.
"A really comforting drink and my cold was a lot shorter and less debilitating than usual!”