Eat early and eat light
Give your body the best chance of falling asleep and getting enough rest by eating dinner earlier in the evening. If you eat too close to bedtime, your stomach may still be working hard to digest your food, especially if you’ve eaten a big, heavy meal. This can affect your ability to fall asleep.
Dim-light melatonin onset, or DLMO, is a period when the body starts to prepare itself for sleep and releases the sleep hormone melatonin. A study suggests that eating before DLMO is more beneficial for the body, as digesting food when we should be powering down for the night disrupts DLMO. Furthermore, it can have detrimental effects on our weight and metabolic health.
That’s why when we’re sick, eating earlier in the day and eating lighter meals can aid in getting the sleep that we need to recover.
Drinking plenty of water is a must to keep your body performing at its best, so it’s extra important to stay hydrated when you’re suffering from a cold. This is because water helps your body to flush out any germs and toxins from your system.
Choose hot drinks
The type of liquids that you drink to keep your body hydrated can also help to relieve uncomfortable cold symptoms. Drinking hot teas, especially herbal teas, can clear your sinuses and relieve nasal congestion. The steam from warm liquids opens up your nasal passages, allowing you to breathe a little clearer. It also works to soothe the inflamed membranes inside your nose and throat. Opt for herbal teas like chamomile, peppermint or ginger tea as they contain calming ingredients that relax the body. They’re also naturally caffeine-free.
Pour yourself a hot drink to help loosen up your congestion, unblock your nose and relax before bed.
Stay away from alcohol and caffeine
Now you know what drinks can help you sleep, it’s also good to know what liquids to stay away from. While alcoholic drinks can make you sleepy, they can prevent you from getting a quality night’s sleep. Alcohol can also lead to dehydration and dry your airways out. This may lead to your sinuses swelling and becoming even more inflamed.
You’ll also want to stay away from anything with caffeine in it. Just like alcohol, caffeine can also cause dehydration. And on top of that, caffeine may prevent you from falling asleep and getting the rest that your body requires.
Gargle with salt water
Struggling to sleep with a sore throat? Gargling with salt dissolved in warm water can moisten the lining of your throat, ease any soreness and prevent your infection from getting worse.
You can gargle salt water up to four times a day, whenever you feel like you need to relieve the soreness of your throat, but it’s especially effective before bed to help you sleep.
Take a hot shower
Just as drinking a hot drink can clear congestion, the steam from taking a hot shower or bath can be equally effective. Steam is a powerful decongestant that can loosen up mucus and add moisture to your nasal passages. It may relieve discomfort or irritation, making it easier to breathe. Taking a warm shower or bath is also a brilliant way to relax your muscles, unwind before bed and promote better sleep when you have a cold.
Fill up a saucepan about half way full with boiled water. Carefully rest your head over the saucepan, around 20 cm away from the surface of the water, and inhale the steam. Place a towel over your head to create a barrier that prevents the steam from escaping.
For an extra, all-natural boost, add a few drops of aromatherapy oil or organic essential oil to your shower or into your saucepan of water. These therapeutic oils add a spa-like element of relaxation and can help you to feel less congested. We recommend our Eucalyptus, Peppermint or Tea Tree Oil for a wonderfully soothing experience.
Use a vapour rub
For longer-lasting decongestion relief, a vapour rub is a great option to help you breathe easier when falling asleep. Vapour rubs are creams or salves that can be applied to your neck or chest to help open up your nasal passages.
Use a humidifier
Add moisture to the air to relieve any sinus discomfort by using a humidifier in your bedroom. Dry air can irritate your sinuses, so using a humidifier before you go to sleep can help to alleviate your cold symptoms, allowing you to drift off easier. A humidifier vaporises water into steam to increase moisture levels in the air. This can help to ease nasal congestion and clear up mucus. It can also relieve a cough too. If you do decide to try out this method, always make sure to use distilled or purified water in your humidifier. It’s also important to change the water in it every day and disinfect the water component regularly to prevent bacteria build-up.
Avoiding sleeping on your back
You may find that lying down increases your discomfort and makes it harder to fall asleep with a cold. This is because laying flat on your back can cause mucus to build up in your throat. To help your sinuses drain and reduce nasal congestion, try elevating your upper body by placing an extra pillow underneath your head. While raising your head is effective for helping ease you sleep, try not to use too many pillows as this can lead to neck pain. If this position is too uncomfortable for you, try sleeping on your side instead.
Keep your bedroom cool
A 2012 study has found that the temperature of your bedroom can greatly affect the quality of your sleep. It’s been recommended that a temperature between 15-19°C is optimal for getting the best night’s sleep. Any warmer and you may wake up sweating, which can lead to dehydration. Resist the urge to turn on the heating as it may actually make you feel more uncomfortable in the night.
When it comes to setting the perfect atmosphere in your bedroom, keep things dark, quiet and on the cooler side to help you sleep better. On the other hand, make sure your room’s temperature isn’t so cold that you’re shivering.
Try to stick to your sleep schedule
As tempting as it can be to sleep all throughout the day, it’s important to try and keep your sleep schedule consistent with when you’re healthy. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t rest, but if you sleep during the day, you may struggle to drift off in the evening.
Sticking to your usual evening routine will make it easier to fall asleep as your body will know when it’s time for bed. This ensures that you get the proper amount of sleep each night. Too much sleep from napping in the day and in the night can even make you feel worse, so it’s best to keep to what you know. Aim to get 8-9 hours of sleep every evening for optimal health.
Avoid doing any strenuous activities from your bed
When you’re sick, you can be tempted to spend all day in bed. You may even be tempted to work from your bed if you’re feeling up to it. However, it’s best to avoid carrying out any strenuous activities from your bedroom. Whether you’re doing your office work or making a to-do list for when you’re healthy, engaging your brain like this can confuse your body when it’s time to sleep. These tasks can inhibit your body’s ability to relax in the evening, meaning that you could struggle to unwind and fall asleep. Make sure you switch off in the evening and save your bed for when you’re ready to sleep.
How to fight your cold
Sleeping with a cold is only half the battle, which is why we’ve listed a few of our favourite tips to help with getting rid of your cold.
Fuel up with cold-fighting foods
We’ve already discussed the powerful properties of honey and lemon in hot water, but there are also other ingredients that can help you to kick your cold. Several different studies have found that chicken soup can help to fight a cold. Chicken soup can clear nasal congestion and thin mucus. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties that help to ease common cold side effects. If you’re vegetarian, other foods that are good to eat if you have a cold are:
Remember to rest
Even the healthiest of people can come down with a cold, and it’s important to give our body enough time to heal itself. Don’t force yourself to carry on with your day-to-day jobs if you don’t feel up to it. Take it easy and feed your body with the right food and enough rest. You’ll find yourself feeling better sooner than if you try to power through the infection.
Many GPs and healthcare professionals advise against taking antibiotics for colds. This is because they aren’t actually effective at relieving cold symptoms or speeding up recovery. Antibiotics work to combat bacterial infections, whereas colds are viral infections caused by viruses. Drink plenty of fluids and get lots of sleep instead.