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  • Writer's pictureMontana Grenfell

How to get a better night sleep when you're sick

A pharmacist shares how you can get a better night's rest when you're under the weather

sick woman

With much of the last two winters spent indoors (due to restrictions) people’s immune systems have weakened, increasing susceptibility to infection.

When sick, getting enough sleep is crucial for your body to fight infection and heal. But even though sickness makes you feel tired and lethargic, it's common to struggle with sleep due to discomfort.

A sleep schedule is key

Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep a night, and when sick this requirement increases. The best way to achieve a quality rest is to stick to a consistent sleep schedule wherever possible. All schedules thrive off routine, including sleep schedules, so going to bed at a consistent time is essential - this will allow your body to recognise that it’s time to switch off.

Decrease screen use before bed

Turning off your devices at least 30 minutes before bed is another way to increase quality of sleep. The blue light that comes from a screen blocks the production of melatonin - the hormone that helps us fall asleep. When you’re feeling under the weather it can be tempting to wind down by watching your favourite tv show in bed. But you’re much better to pick up a book or tune in to a soothing podcast.

Switch up position

Many people struggle to sleep while sick due to a blocked nose or a feeling of pressure in their head. Lying flat on a pillow allows this pressure to build, increasing discomfort and therefore difficulty when falling asleep. A simple remedy is to lift your head to a higher angle with the help of a second pillow. This sleep style will assist in clearing the nasal passages and reduce the pressure in your head.

Night-time cold and flu medicine

Most decongestants, and general cold and flu medication are likely to keep you awake, so opt for a cold and flu medication formulated for night-time. Cold and flu night tablets contain ingredients for pain relief and therefore help with the process of falling asleep. You can opt for popular brands like Codral or try a generic like APOHEALTH for the same quality at a lower price. Make sure to speak to your local pharmacist to find the right relief for you.

Try a hot shower or bath

A hot shower or bath is a great way to relax before bed when you’re feeling under the weather. The steam produced from the hot water will help with congestion and relax the muscles, preparing your body for sleep. To further reduce the feeling of congestion, you can also consider using a nasal decongestant like Vicks Nasal Decongestant Inhaler.

Use a humidifier and diffuser

Using a humidifier in your room is another effective way to ease congestion, and scent plays an important role in our ability to switch off. Smell is connected to our brain’s centre for memory and emotion, which means specific scents can trigger a calming response such as relaxation or tiredness. The Air Innovations Clean Mist Digital Humidifier works to increase moisture levels in the air, while the oil diffusing aromatherapy tray allows essential oils be introduced.

If you wake up, respond quickly

If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night, respond quickly with whatever your body requires, so you can doze off again. A common reason we wake up is due to dehydration so be sure to keep a glass or bottle of water next to your bed for easy access. If you need to go to the bathroom, or require further medication, make sure to respond to your needs quickly so you can return to sleep.


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