Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleep Well When You're Sick

Posted by Kayla LeFevre on Feb 11, 2019 10:41:00 AM

In the dead of winter, it’s miraculous for anyone to avoid getting the common cold at least once. And when a cold hits us hard, there’s no better relief than waking up from a long night’s rest, feeling renewed and like a million bucks after a bad beating.

The benefits that sleep can have on a weakened immune system is paramount to recovery. But when our sinuses feel like they’re stuffed to the brim with cotton, our chest aches from all the heaving, our throats burn with every cough, and our muscles feel as though they’ve lost a fight with Chuck Norris, sleeping sounds like an impossible task.


So, we turn to over the counter drugs that impair our cognitive skills. Then after a few days, a doctor’s visit results in a very serious prescription of nothing-more-to-do paired with a high price tag of 5-minute-or-less chat. Meanwhile, our pain grows, our nose leaks, our cough draws public worry, and our sleep continues to suffer. And that’s if we don’t develop mucosal obstruction sleep apnea from our air passages constantly being blocked by phlegm.

Get the Best Sleep with a Cold – Using Natural Remedies

Turning to the drug store is a normal routine in this day and age. But when it comes to those looking to reduce their unnatural drug intake or are even unable to take these everyday medications, like pregnant women and children, it can be challenging to find more natural remedies in place of synthetic solutions.

For these circumstances, here is a list of ideas of all the things you can do first to relieve your sinus pressure, breathe a little easier and, most importantly, finally drift off to some much needed and irreplaceable sleep.


Besides soothing our throats with hot liquid and encouraging us to drink more, herbal teas are a great source for antioxidants. But the teas listed below are specifically beneficial to our health when we’re under the weather.

  • Green Tea: Full of antioxidants, green tea is a great go-to drink when you’re feeling under the weather (and even when you’re not) with its ability to ward off infections and boost your immune system. It can also replace your morning coffee so that you still get that caffeine kick without using dairy products, a cold’s worst enemy.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint is not just a great flavor, it can also help to clear up plugged sinuses. Poor a hot cup of this relieving tea and hang your head over the menthol-infused steam for some instant relief. The stronger the tea, the more effective the results.
  • Echinacea: Possible the most efficient get-better tea, this flower extraction has shown to increase the number of white blood cells in the body, boosting your immune system to better fight against a cold.

Epsom Salt Bath

Taking a hot bath alone can ease our body and relax our senses, and even the steam can relieve our sinuses. Throw in some Epsom salt to provide relief to sore muscles. Even better if you can find some bath salts with eucalyptus.



Adding humidity to our sleep environment can have a great affect on our sinus pressure and our throat muscles. Weather it’s trouble breathing or a sore throat from a nasty cough, running a humidifying through the night can provide immense relief, especially for young children who can’t take many medications or for parents who don’t want to treat their weeks-long cough with daily dosages. You can find plenty of noiseless options at stores, and even the Vicks brand humidifier have filters with lavender scents to aid with sleep.

Essential Oils

Just a single drop of highly concentrated essential oil can rush over our senses like a tidal wave. You can invest in a diffuser or simply add a couple drops to your bath or even your humidifier. When you’re treating a cold, make sure to add the following to your shopping list:

  • Peppermint: Peppermint is a great respiratory stimulant to help you breath easy. The strong presence of menthol is why so many medicines include this scent in their ingredient list.
  • Eucalyptus: This refreshing scent will help to open your nasal passages and break up mucus in the body, which is exactly what your cold needs.
  • Lavender: Lavender has amazing qualities to help reduce a fever and headaches, but its most beneficial quality is its ability to reduce stress and improve your quality of sleep – the most important prescription you can fill.


Salt Water Rinse

Gargling some warm water with salt can aid in repairing a sore throat. And while awkward and even a little uncomfortable at times, a saline spray to your nostrils can help move blocked passages and drain any loose mucus. Best of all, it’s completely safe for pregnant women.

Natural Topical Ointment

Rubbing a topical ointment on your chest or even dabbing a bit under your nose can help open nasal passages and break up mucus. You can find natural alternatives with eucalyptus and peppermint for worry-free comfort.

Bedside aid

If you do suddenly wake in the middle of the night with a fit of coughing or a nose that’s running like Niagra falls, then rummaging around in the dark for 10 minutes at a time is far from helpful. Be sure your nightstand has any needed equipment, such as cough drops, tissue paper and a waste bin, so that midnight rummaging is kept to a minimum and you can get right back to sleeping.

All of these remedies are great first steps to treat a common cold without worrying about the side effects of over the counter treatments. But they are far from sufficient to treat serious illnesses like affluenza or even cancer (which some people have done). If your symptoms don’t improve after a week, then be sure to see your family doctor for his or her insight.

And one symptom you should definitely be on the lookout for is whether or not you develop sleep apnea as a result of your congestion. Untreated development of sleep apnea can lead to life-long loss of quality sleep, not to mention circulation health, heart health and so much more.

If your illness is resulting in repeated snoring and nightly breathing issues long after you kick the common cold, then be sure to contact your local sleep clinic for an evaluation. Luckily, our specialists here at Alaska Sleep Clinic are more than experienced in the treatment in all things sleep related, from insomnia to Obstructive Sleep Apnea. If you live in the Anchorage, Alaska area, then be sure to call today for a free 10-minute consultation.

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