How to Sleep Better With a Cold

When you’ve got a cold, it’s important to drink plenty of water and get lots of sleep if you want to enjoy a rapid recovery.

It’s kind of unfortunate and ironic then, that sleeping with a cold is so incredibly difficult. Not only will you be tossing and turning through the night feeling cold one minute and hot the next, you’ll also need to contend with a blocked nose, sore throat and coughing fits along the way.

It sure is hard to sleep when you can’t breathe.

Here are some tips that can help…

Make a Fresh Bed

Getting into bed when you’re hot and clammy isn’t half as inviting as it should be and it’s made much worse if the bed itself feels clammy and itchy. If you put on fresh bedclothes, then it will feel cool, crisp and clean – especially if you used a fabric softener – and this will make it much easier to relax and unwind.

Take a Warm Bath or Shower

If you have a warm bath or shower just before bed, then it will help your body to regulate its temperature a little better. At the same time, the warm water will help to relax your muscles and also break up mucus and phlegm blocking your airways. Put on some light pyjamas and then get into your freshly-made bed and you should feel a lot more human.

Take Some Painkillers

Take some ibuprofen or paracetamol before you go to bed and it will help to reduce discomfort in the throat and head that comes with a cold. Many of us assume that analgesics are just for when we’re awake and that it’s a waste to take them when we’re sleeping – in fact though, taking paracetamol can help you to fall into a deep sleep, which may then be enough to prevent you from waking later in the night.

Try a Steam Bowl

Using a steam bowl involves filling a bowl with hot water and then leaning over it with your face. You then drape a towel over the back of your head and from here proceed to inhale the steam. The hope is that in doing this, you’ll be able to break up the mucus and clear your air passages. This can give you relief from a blocked nose/sneezing for at least a few hours, which again might be enough to help you get some more sleep.

Do be careful not to use boiling water though, or the steam can actually end up burning the insides of your nostrils!


Something else that can help to keep your airways clearer while you’re sleeping is a little menthol salve. Rub some on your chest and you’ll inhale the menthol fumes while you’re sleeping – and that can in turn lead to a better night’s rest!

Prop Yourself Up

If you normally sleep with just one pillow, now might be the time to throw in another one. Better yet, try propping your pillows up slightly against the headrest. This will help your nose and throat to drain fluids and mucus and prevent as much of a build-up.


If you have a cold then you might find your body temperature fluctuating all over the place. The solution to this problem is to give yourself lots of layers so you can adapt to the changes. Have multiple blankets that you can grab or dismiss, wear pyjamas and even try putting on socks. This way you can quickly throw off layers or pull back on your socks as necessary.

Have a Big Glass of Water and Tissues by Your Bed

Sometimes you’ll get a tickle in your throat that only a glug of water will help and sometimes you’ll absolutely need to blow your nose in the middle of the night. Make sure that everything you need is to hand so you aren’t forced to trek into the kitchen with your eyes and nose glued shut.

Ease Your Throat

Right before bed, try using a cough sweet. Or if you prefer, you could try some warm water mixed with honey. Either way, use what works for you so that your coughing will be kept to a minimum.

Don’t Stress

When we’re ill and tired, one of the things we want most is to go to sleep. This can then make it frustrating when we struggle to drift off soundly – and that frustration can then make life harder still.

The point is that being stressed is biologically antithetical to sleeping as it elevates your heart rate and produces stimulating neurotransmitters. Instead of thinking you ‘must’ get to sleep when you lie down, instead just focus on relaxing and resting your body. Any kind of rest will help you to feel better and give your body a hand in recovering, so it’s all good!

As soon as you take the ‘pressure off’ to get to sleep, you’ll find it’s that much easier to just doze off…

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