5 ways to help you sleep better with a cold
We all know how important it is to get enough rest when fighting off a cold, but have you noticed that all the coughing, spluttering and general inability to breathe often makes sleep with a cold almost impossible? Why is that, and is there anything you can do to help?
The reason we struggle to sleep with a cold is primarily due to gravity and hydration. Once we lie down flat, the excess mucus in the sinuses and head create far more pressure than when sitting up. This makes it harder to breathe, causes more pain in the head, and we have to breathe through our mouth which then dries out the throat and leads to coughing spasms.
The good news is that if you follow the simple tips and natural remedies below, you should find you get a better night's sleep despite your cold, and this should in turn speed up your recovery:
1. Elevate your upper body
To ease pressure and help the sinuses drain, you need to fight gravity and prop up your upper body. It is tempting to just elevate your head with an extra pillow, but this is not the most effective strategy: it can tilt your neck forward, making breathing even harder. It is best to arrange your pillows in a triangle sloping upwards from your shoulders.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
For better breathing and less coughing, it is also important to keep the mucous membranes well hydrated. Drink as much water as possible during the day (hot or warm liquids are best if you are ill), and drink a cup of warm water, honey and lemon, herb tea or Echinaforce Hot Drink before you go to bed.Keep a glass of water and a product like A. Vogel Cough Spray on your bedside table to ease coughing spasms during the night.
To keep the airways hydrated, it is also important to think about the humidity in your bedroom. Moist air will help, and in winter, with central heating on, the air in our homes can become very dry.
You can buy humidifiers to remedy this, and this is worth considering if you have a lot of respiratory issues, but if you have a one off cold, just placing a bowl of water on your radiator will help.
3. Create your own steam room
Before you go to bed, it is a good idea to loosen as much congestion as possible from the airways, and steam is the best way to do this.
If you have a hot bath or shower, you can amplify the effects of the steam by shutting the bathroom door and sitting in the bathroom while the water is running to inhale the vapour. If you have a bath, add a few drops of decongestant essential oil, like eucalyptus oil or A.Vogel Po-HoOil to the water.
Alternatively, you can put boiling water and some essentialoil in a bowl and cover your head with atowel while you inhale the steam. After steaming, use a saline nasal spray like A.Vogel Sinuforce to irrigate the nasal passages. All this will make breathing throughout the night much easier.
4. Read the labels on any medication you are taking
Another often overlooked problem is that many over the counter pharmaceutical remedies for colds and flu contain decongestants such as pseudoephedrine and caffeine which are strong stimulants.
The last time I took a decongestant like that I took it at about 5pm and could not get to sleep for about 24 hours, and I felt much worse once the artificially induced energy wore off! I am very sensitive to stimulants, so it may not have such an effect on everyone,but it is worth checking what you are taking and avoiding decongestants or painkillers with caffeine in the afternoon.
Also, always talk to a pharmacist if you are mixing cold remedies with prescription medicine.Better still, stick to natural cold remedies like Echinaforce.
5. Maintain basic sleep hygiene
Remember the basic rules of sleep hygiene, as these are just as important, maybe more so, when you are ill and need rest.Keep your heating off at night, even if you feel shivery!
You need your bedroom to be cool and dark for a good night's sleep. Avoid stimulants like alcohol, caffeine and sugar before bed (alcohol can also have a negative effect on breathing).
And limit exposure to bright light from computers, tablets and smartphones in the evening as much as possible. For more on sleep hygiene and good sleep habits, read our article here: www.avogel.co.uk/health/sleep/hygiene-tips
I hope this helps anyone struggling to sleep with a cold - if anyone knows of any other good tips, I woud love to hear them, just use the comments section below: