skip to main content

the do's and don'ts

for sleeping with a cold

Cold and flu symptoms can make it tough to get a good night’s rest, which is unfortunate, because often, getting a restful night of sleep is just what you need to feel better tomorrow.


When you’re ill, the effects of little to no sleep are magnified, and can make cold and flu symptoms feel worse. Giving your body as much rest as it needs is important to help your immune system fight off infection. Here are some smart Do’s and Don’ts that can help you get the sleep your body craves—especially when you’re feeling under the weather:

The Sick Sleeping Environment Do’s:
  • Adjust your sleep schedule and give your body as much rest as it needs.
  • Take nighttime cold or flu medicine to help alleviate coughing and other symptoms so you can fall asleep.
  • Consider using a humidifier or nasal decongestant—they could help you breathe more freely as you sleep.

Your Sick Sleeping Environment Don’ts
  • Don’t use your bedroom for stressful activities such as paying bills, doing office work, or even watching television. All of these activities can inhibit your ability to relax when it's time to go to sleep. It’s a good idea to follow this advice every night, but it’s very important when you’re feeling sick. Like most people, taking a sick day can cause work to pile up. Don’t try to solve it all before bedtime. Instead, get your sleep tonight, and tackle your work tomorrow.
  • Many people like sleeping in a cool room, but don’t make it so cold that you wake up shivering in the middle of the night. When you’re feeling sick, you might want to consider raising the temperature a little, rather than letting the thermostat drop. Just don’t forget to change it back when you’re feeling better.
  • If you’ve tried all of the above tactics, and cold symptoms are still keeping you from falling asleep, don’t try to wait it out in bed. If possible, it's best to get up and go to another room to read or listen to some calm music. However, try to avoid going online or watching television.

Sleep deprivation is nothing to be proud of, and could actually prolong cold and flu symptoms. By missing out on a restful night, you're cheating yourself and those around you out of a healthier, more alert, more productive you. Follow these sleep tips when you’re feeling sick to help you wake up feeling better once again.