Doctor shares 8 tips to get some sleep if you have the worst cold ever

There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep when you have a cold (Picture: Getty Images)

There’s a vile ‘is-it-a-cold-or-flu’ virus doing the rounds and chances are you’ve got it, or know someone who has.

It’s knocking many of us out – and wrecking any chance of a good night’s sleep too.

But experts say that proper rest at night is the key to boosting our immune systems and sending the cold – or flu – packing for good.

So how can you get a good night’s sleep when you feel wretched?

Here’s what you need to know.

Steam your face

Sleep expert Dr Lindsay Browning told Metro.co.uk, ‘Cold symptoms are usually worse at night.

‘Congestion can greatly affect our quality of sleep, and if you don’t get enough of it you’ll take longer to fight off the virus, as our immune systems are boosted overnight.’

Steam can really help clear your airways (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

She suggests steaming your face before you hit the sack, to really clear out those passages.

Best of all, it’s easy to do. Fill the sink or a bowl with warm water, chuck a towel over your head to trap in the steam, and breathe deeply.

Boiling or very hot water is best avoided – unless you want to add a bright red scalded face to your woes.

Take a hot shower

It’s easy to just lay in bed wallowing in self-pity, but if you can drag yourself into the shower, it’ll work wonders on that trapped mucus.

‘Make sure to close the bathroom door to create steam,’ says Dr Browning, a neuroscientist at And So To Bed.

Landscape bathroom shower

Crank up the heat and breathe (Picture: Getty Images)

‘And a warm bath or shower can also promote sleep because of the drop in temperature when you get out.’

Keep the shower temperature comfortably hot, and stay in as long as you can.

Keep your bedroom dark and cool

‘Making sure the room is cool can help you get some decent shut-eye.

‘When you’re sick, you might feel more sensitive to fluctuations in light or temperature,’ says Dr Browning.

Bedroom goals – but will those curtains keep out the light? (Picture: mediadrumimages/DEXTERS)

Blackout curtains are ideal for controlling the light, so if yours are paper-thin, get an eye mask.

Raise your head

Elevating your head while you sleep can really help to drain the mucus that’s built up in your sinuses.

‘When we lay down, the mucus can’t drain in the same way as when gravity is helping,’ says Dr Browning.

‘This leads to disturbed breathing or a cough caused by post-nasal drip.’

woman sleeping in bed

Add an extra pillow and love that luxury! (Photo: Getty Images/Tetra images RF)

So puff up that extra pillow, lay back, and drain away!

Raising up the head-end of the bed works too, though pick something sturdy to stand it on rather than that wobbly pile of books.

Get an air purifier

Pollen and dust particles in the air can play havoc with your nose, especially when it’s already irritated.

So in addition to ramping up your dusting routine, investing in an air purifier can help to filter them out.

Woman sets up an air purifier

Try investing in an air purifier (Picture: Getty)

Most work by sucking in air, filtering it through paper, fiberglass, or mesh, and blowing it back out.

Alternatively, try filling your home with purifying plants.

In the summer months, drying laundry and bedding indoors also reduces the amount of pollen and pollutants sticking to it.

Take a sleep aid

Paracetamol will bring your fever down, and aid sleep.

But beware of all-in-one flu and cold remedies which contain caffeine – as taking these before bed will give you a buzz you really don’t need.

woman holding pills

Medication can help – but be careful what you take at bedtime (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Medications with caffeine are usually labelled non-drowsy,’ says Dr Browning.

While they can work wonders in the daytime, they’re a no-no at night. Check the ingredients.

Stay off the booze and caffeinated drinks

We’ve all done it – had a strong cup of coffee late in the evening and they wondered why we’re still awake at 4am.

And when you’re feeling rough it’s so tempting to have a glass of wine just to knock you out.

Tired Entrepreneur

That afternoon cuppa will play havoc with your sleep (Picture: Getty Images)

But in the long term they’ll both wreck your sleep. And here’s the bad news – so will chocolate as it contains caffeine too.

‘Caffeine has a half-life of six hours,’ says Dr Browning. ‘So six hours after that last cup of coffee, half the caffeine is still in your system.’

Get up!

As anyone who has insomnia will tell you, there’s nothing worse than laying there at 3am staring at the clock. Every minute lasts an hour.

woman trying to sleep with alarm clock beside her

Time runs soooo slowly when you can’t sleep (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

‘If you’re really struggling, get up for a short while to help your body reset,’ says Dr Browning. ‘Staying in bed can make you more stressed, and trying to force sleep isn’t helpful.’

She recommends going into another room to read or listen to calming music.

‘Try and remain calm,’ advises Dr Browning. ‘And avoid scrolling through your phone or you might forget to go back to bed!’


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