Life

Lurgy keeping you awake? 10 steps to getting to sleep when you have a cold

It may be beneficial to you and your partner if one of you sleeps in a different room for a couple of nights

THERE are many over-the-counter remedies for a cold that work so well you almost forget you're feeling ropey. However when it comes to sleeping at night, it's a different story – sleep can prove elusive when you have a cold, one of the times you most need recuperative shut-eye. Here is sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley's advice:

1. Get some fresh air

Fresh air is good for sleep, particularly when you aren't feeling well. My advice is to open the window before going to bed, even just a tiny bit. By opening the window, you lower levels of carbon dioxide in the air, which has been shown to improve the quality of sleep.

2. Sleep on your own

If you have a cold, you're not going to be much fun to sleep next to. Your raised temperature and the discomfort associated with a cold will mean you are more restless throughout the night. The coughing, sneezing, wheezing and blowing is bound to be disruptive and therefore, it may be beneficial to you and your partner if one of you sleeps in a different room for a couple of nights.

3. Drink water

Make sure you have a glass of water beside your bed to sip from during the night. One of the main problems with having a cold is the fact the blocked nose is liable to cause you to breathe through your mouth, resulting in dryness.

4. Sleep at the right temperature

You need to lose body heat to get good quality sleep and you lose this heat from your head and face, as that's the only bit of you that is exposed under the duvet. While you can be as toasty as you want under the covers, the bedroom needs to be cool – ideally 16-18C. When you have a cold, you're already going to find it more difficult to lose body heat, because you'll be running a temperature. Having the bedroom too warm will make things more difficult, so resist the temptation to turn up the heating.

5. Take medication

Ensure you have any medications you might need close by your bed, notes Stanley. This includes painkillers, sore throat pastilles and a medicated rub like like Vicks VapoRub.

6. Soak away the stress

Have a warm bath before bed, as it will relax you and help you to sleep better. When you have a cold, the stresses and worries of modern life feel even worse, so soaking away your worries is an ideal way to wind down.

7. Don't go to bed hungry

When you don't feel well, sometimes you lose your appetite. However, it is important not to go to bed hungry, as that will disturb your sleep. Dr Stanley suggests eating a couple of slices of hot buttered toast for supper, as while your body doesn't want to be processing a big meal during sleep, the feeling of hunger causes the brain to want food not sleep.

8. Have a soothing drink in the evening

A hot 'toddy' of honey, ginger and lemon, and maybe something a bit stronger, is a soothing, relaxing drink that can help you get off to sleep.

9. Keep it caffeine free

Be aware that some cold and flu remedies can contain caffeine. Although this can help you feel better during the day, too much could disturb your sleep.

10. Clear those airways

Difficulty breathing is a common symptom of a cold and one that can potentially cause sleep problems, as well as contributing to snoring. Try and keep your airways clear by using a suitable decongestant product and keeping tissues handy at all times.

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