How to Sleep Better with a Cold

How to Sleep Better with a Cold

Getting enough sleep is vital to preventing colds in the winter. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, people who sleep fewer than 4 or 5 hours a night are four times as likely to catch a cold as those who sleep 7 hours or more. But if you find yourself with the sniffles despite your good sleeping habits, you may struggle with getting a good night's sleep. Follow these tips for sleeping better with a cold.

Keys to Sleeping Better with a Cold

Learning how to sleep better with a cold helps you get the rest you need and may speed your recovery. Try these tricks for getting some shuteye when you have a cold.


  • Keep air moist. Using a a vaporizer or humidifier in the bedroom to moisten the air helps ease breathing and soothes nasal passages. If you don't have a humidifier on hand, set a bowl of water near the heating vent or on windowsills where it will evaporate and increase the humidity in the room.
  • Elevate your head. Elevating your head promotes good drainage of the nasal passages and makes breathing easier. You can do this by stacking two or more pillows or by using a foam wedge designed to keep your more upright. Pillows designed for reading in bed are also a good option.
  • Get comfortable. Make up your bed with fresh bed linens and comfy blankets to make sleeping easier. When you feel comfortable you are more likely to drift off to sleep.
  • Drink hot liquids. According to WebMD, the steam from the hot liquids makes it easier to clear nasal passage by loosening mucus and soothing dried areas. Try herbal teas with honey to soothe the throat and ease coughs before bedtime or enjoy the soothing effects of a cup of chicken broth as you get ready for bed.
  • Take a hot shower. Taking a hot shower before bedtime helps ease the symptoms of a cold. The steam from the shower works to open airways and loosen mucus so that it is easier for you to breathe freely. It also helps to relax you so your are more likely to fall asleep.
  • Keep nasal passages clear. If the steam from hot liquids or a steaming bath don't do the trick, try saline nasal sprays or rinses. You can also use nasal strips designed to prevent snoring to open airways and ease breathing when you have a cold.
  • Avoid alcohol. While it may be tempting to have a drink to help yourself relax before bedtime, it may actually have the opposite effect. Alcohol can cause your sinuses to swell and dry out nasal passages making it even more difficult to sleep, says WebMD. Alcohol may also cause you to awaken in the night and may interact with cold medications.
  • Avoid dairy products. Dairy products may cause your body to produce more mucus, says Everyday Health. This can cause your cold symptoms to get worse and make breathing more difficult.
  • Try cold medications. Purchase cold medications with a formula that matches your symptoms and follow the directions on the container to gain relief from common cold symptoms. Always read warning labels carefully and check with your doctor if you have medical conditions or are taking other medications. You doctor can also prescribe cold medications for you, if over-the-counter remedies are not an option for you.

Getting a good night's sleep when you have a cold isn't always easy, but its not impossible. By following these tips you are more likely to get restful sleep, which in turn might help you shake the cold sooner. If your symptoms do not get better in a few days, talk to your doctor about your symptoms to rule out more serious health conditions.

Updated: 09/13/2019