For as long as anyone can remember, grandparents all over the world have been recommending sleep to get over the flu (and other illnesses). Now, science is proving them right! There are also the tried-and-true ways of getting better sleep while battling the sniffles.
As is turns out, there’s a brain-specific protein called AcPb that speeds recovery in promoting the healing power of sleep. That’s all well and good for science, but until there’s a cure based on this newfound knowledge, we’ll stick to giving you some sleep tips to help you get the rest you need to recover as quickly as possible.
Prop up your head.
Sinus pressure gets better when your head is elevated above your body. When you lie down, postnasal drip can build, making your throat sore and triggering a cough. Use your pillows to create a wedge that keeps you propped up, so you can breathe and sleep easier.
Moisten the air.
The air is much drier in winter than the rest of the year, so using a humidifier can serve you well when sick. Placing a humidifier or vaporizer a few feet from your bed can ease congestion by breaking up mucus so you can cough it out. Moist air can also help relieve the cough itself.
Medicate with caution.
Some cold and flu remedies contain a decongestant called pseudoephedrine (or ephedrine) which produces a stimulating affect that is not very conducive to sleep. These decongestants are best used for daytime use while antihistamines have a drowsy action that goes well with getting the most rest you can.
Sure, alcohol may make you sleepy, but it dries you out and causes your sinuses to swell.
Brew a cup of tea.
Hot, decaffeinated tea with a drop or two of fresh lemon juice can immediately reduce runny nose symptoms. In particular, ginger tea can help reduce muscle aches and generate a feeling of well-being.
Recipe for a simple ginger tea: Thinly slice a four-inch piece of fresh ginger root and boil for 30 minutes in a half-gallon of water. Add cinnamon bark and sugar or honey for added flavor. It’s best to sip this brew awhile before bedtime, as it may stimulate stomach acid and potentially cause heartburn.
Cut down on dairy.
In some people, dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt can produce more mucus and lead to a worsening of cold and flu symptoms. Avoiding dairy when you’re sick may help to improve congestion.