We know that the right amount of shut-eye is key to avoiding illness this cold and flu season, as well as getting better fast. But anyone who has ever had a hacking cough or runny nose knows that’s often easier said than done.
Between the congestion and the coughing and the chills, trying to sleep while sick can feel more stressful than restorative. Not to mention that symptoms seem to worsen as bedtime approaches. “A lot of that has to do with positioning,” says Jennifer Collins, M.D., an assistant professor of allergy and immunology at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. “When you’re sitting up, gravity is helping you. When you lie flat, that post-nasal drip starts pulling on the back of your throat, making it much more difficult to breathe through your nose. Most people end up breathing through their mouth and coughing, which is disruptive to sleep.”
While it certainly doesn’t sound pleasant, there are some simple ways to alleviate symptoms and put a good night’s sleep within reach.