1) Be Careful With Cold Meds. Even though your first instinct might be to hit up the pharmacy, turns out, everyone reacts to nighttime medications differently. Some people may even have adverse reactions that keep them up instead of lulling them to sleep, like feeling jittery or anxious, or experiencing a rapid heartbeat. The decongestant pseudoephedrine might be behind these symptoms, according to WebMD.
2) Why Elevating Your Head Works.Propping yourself (preferably up on a wedge pillow to protect your neck) puts gravity back to work in your favor, says Jennifer Collins, M.D., an assistant professor of allergy and immunology at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. Instead of choking on that unfortunate post-nasal drip, you'll breathe more easily through the nose and alleviate any sinus pressure that may have moved into the ears while lying down flat, she says.
3) Get Steamy. Sure, it's relaxing. But the real reason a hot bath or shower lulls you to sleep is thanks to the cooling effect after you step out of the tub. This drop in temperature helps trigger your body to prepare for sleep. But steam also offers cold and flu symptom relief. That moisture in the air can help loosen congestion in your nose and chest, keep your entire body moisturized and help you breathe easier while you sleep, says Collins. A humidifier can help, too!
4) Try Tea.A little chamomile, passionflower or other "sleepy time" teas before bed can help you relax before bed. "Plus," adds Collins, "you're also getting fluids when you drink tea." Sweeten with a drop or two of honey for the additional benefit of soothing that sore throat, which might otherwise fuel your tossing and turning.
5) Keep H2O Handy. While you might dread trekking to the bathroom in the middle of the night when you feel like garbage, staying hydrated throughout the day will ease congestion and help you feel better all over. A runny nose, breathing through the mouth and coughing all contribute to dehydration, says Collins, but it's important that your respiratory system stays moisturized. Plus, keeping a water bottle nearby can help you squash any middle-of-the-night coughing.
6) Stick To Cat Naps. If you're home sick, take it easy, but try to avoid sleeping all day long. While rest is obviously essential to your health, too much napping throughout daylight hours can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Try relaxing activities like board games, reading or catching up on your Netflix queue.
7) Remember Good Sleep Hygiene. Many of the age-old rules still apply to the bedroom, even when you're feeling under the weather. A sleep-promoting bedroom is cool, dark and quiet, used only for sex and sleep and ideally, free of light-emitting gadgets like cell phones and laptops.While some people might be tempted to try a stronger sleep medication when sleep is particularly elusive, sleeping pills shouldn't be mixed with most cold medicines, as many are alcohol-based and can cause dangerous interactions, cautions Collins.