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Cold and flu: How to sleep better when you have a runny nose – top tips

Lorraine: Dr Hilary busts cold and flu myths

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However, once the nasal passages start dripping – a way for the body to clear the viral infection – sleep could be harder to come by, especially as an onslaught of symptoms appear. The NHS pointed out the signs of a cold can include sneezing, muscle aches, headaches, a sore throat, and a blocked or runny nose. While rest is paramount in clearing the infection more quickly, it might be a bit difficult.

Doctor Carol DerSarkissian recommends using a humidifier if you have one.

A humidifier releases moisture into the air with the resulting steam helping to loosen congestion.

Beside loosening congestion, a humidifier can soothe irritated tissue in the nose and ease a sore throat.

“Be sure to clean and disinfect your humidifier regularly to get rid of germs,” noted Doctor DerSarkissian.

Another tip is to “shower before bed”; taking a hot, steamy shower can help you breathe more easily.

To help loosen mucus, a saline rinse is recommended whereby a quarter of a teaspoon of salt is mixed with the same amount of baking soda in warm distilled water.

Doctor DerSarkissian cautioned: “Do not use tap water because it can be dangerous.”

What is a saline rinse?

The NHS explained: “Rinsing your nasal passages with a salt water solution can be helpful.

“Rinsing your nasal passages helps wash away any excess mucus or irritants inside your nose, which can reduce inflammation and relieve your symptoms.”

While solutions can be bought from a pharmacy, an at-home solution involves:

  • Salt
  • Bicarbonate soda
  • Boiled water.

The NHS expanded: “To make the solution at home, mix a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into a pint of boiled water.”

It’s important to let the solution cool to around body temperate to prevent scalding.

To rinse your nose, you will need to:

  1. Stand over a sink, cup the palm of one hand and pour a small amount of the solution into it
  2. Sniff the water into one nostril at a time – an alternative is to use a syringe to insert the solution into the nose
  3. Repeat this until your nose feels comfortable (you may not need to use all of the solution).

If you feel the solution pass through the back of your nose to your throat, try to spit out as much as possible.

“You can carry out nasal irrigation [i.e. a saline rinse] several times a day. Make a fresh salt water solution each time,” the NHS added.

Doctor DerSarkissian mentioned that good sleep hygiene can help you drift off to sleep – even in the most difficult of situations.

“Sticking to a schedule not only makes it easier to fall asleep – it can help fight off the next cold,” verified Doctor DerSarkissian.

Research implies that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are three times more likely to catch a cold than those who have eight hours of sleep every night.

The NHS warned that a person with a cold is infectious for up two weeks.

Thus, until your symptoms clear, wash your hands frequently and throw away any used tissues as soon as possible.

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