Sure, doctors recommend extra sleep as the antidote for colds and flu. But catching 40 winks is a tall order, when you don’t feel well.
How can you stave off the sniffles, stuffy head, hacking cough, and overnight aches to sleep off a bad cold or the worst case of flu? Here are several practical pointers for making the most of those worst nights, while fighting the flu or a nasty cold.
1. Bathe before bed.
A soothing steamy hot bath or shower helps to break up sinus congestion, ease the wheezes, and comfort aches and pains. Try a soothing eucalyptus-scented bath soap or body wash.
2. Set up a vaporizer.
Remember how Mom used to plug in a steamer in the baby’s bedroom to cancel the croup? Vaporizers work for grownups too.
3. Grab an extra pillow.
Post-nasal drip is a particular pain overnight, when you’re horizontal for hours. An extra pillow or two elevates the head to a helpful position.
4. Don’t forget your medications.
Bedtime drowsiness may tempt you to skip the nightly dose of cough medicine, decongestant, or pain reliever. Bad idea!
5. Try a heat pack or neck wrap.
Consider picking up a cozy, soft heat pack or neck wrap for overnight comfort. Most of the newer versions heat up in seconds in the microwave. Some are even scented.
6. Soothe symptoms with a menthol rub.
Old-fashioned ointments (like Vick’s Vapo-Rub) aren’t just for kids. Smear a little on your chest, neck, and shoulders, and you may be surprised at the relief you find. Just be sure to keep it away from your face – particularly the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Some folks even swear by putting vapor ointment on the feet, claiming this helps clear the head and soothe the entire body. Maybe it’s worth a try.
7. Drink lots of water.
Hydration is critical for cold and flu sufferers. A cool drink of water is also very soothing in the middle of the night, when a cough or post-nasal drip is especially irritating. Why not keep a bottle of water by the bedside?
8. Sleep alone, if you can.
It’s hard to be quiet overnight when you have a cold or the flu. You may shift about restlessly. When you finally do nod off, you may sniff, rattle, and snore.
Worse, you may share your germs with the one sleeping nearby.
Ideally, if you’re sick, you can creep off to a quiet solo spot to sleep it off. That way, you won’t bother others, and you will likely sleep better and longer than in another’s company.
After all, if you snooze, you just may lose … that cold or flu.
More from this contributor:
Facebook etiquette: Is it rude to reveal loved ones’ health concerns?
Top 10 Bible Verses for Get Well Cards
Is Your Toothbrush Making You Sick?