How to sleep when you have a cold?

Common cold is a common problem everyone experiences multiple times a year. Sometimes it is mild, sometimes accompanied by a stuffy nose and cough. These symptoms may be annoying and makes it difficult to sleep. Many times we keep thinking ‘how to sleep when you have a cold?’

There are some tips that may make sleeping with a common cold easier. One or many of these tricks may help you to fall asleep.

Drink a hot soup

Drinking warm soup or lemonade with honey and hot water can alleviate the symptoms of the common cold temporarily. Warm drink and honey may have a soothing effect on your throat and you feel comfortable, that itchy feeling in your throat may go away and you may get some relief from a stuffy nose.

Just take care to avoid caffeinated drinks before sleep or it will add more to the difficulty in falling asleep during common cold.

Try nasal decongestants

Nasal decongestants relieve a stuffy nose and give you some relief so that you can breathe with your nose. Nasal decongestants act on the blood vessels in your nasal mucosa and reduce the swelling at that place.

Nasal decongestants can be in the form of nasal drops or nasal sprays or oral tablets. Those are generally available as over the counter medicines.

  • Nasal drops
  • Nasal sprays
  • Oral tablets

Just take care not use these for more than 5-7 days in a row as they may have habit forming potential. Take medical advice before using them.

Anti Cold medicines

These medicines contain antihistamines and phenylephrine which may relieve the symptoms of stuffy nose and itching in nose and throat. 

Additionally these medicines cause drowsiness as a side effect. It may actually help you to sleep.

Dry cough medicine

These medicines typically contain antihistamines with cough suppressants like dextromethorphan. Some of them are available over the counter medicine but some of them are prescription only medicines.

These medicines relieve itchy sensation and irritation in the nose and throat. It may help you to fall asleep.


If you are an asthmatic you may get symptoms of worsening of your bronchospasm during night when you have a common cold. These symptoms may be a feeling of heavy weight on the chest, or difficulty in breathing or cough. You should use your bronchodilator medicine as per suggestion of your doctor.

These medicines can be used as oral preparations or by nebulization or by rotacaps. They usually relieve the symptoms in some minutes. Take them in dosages as suggested by your doctor if no relief, you should visit the ER.

Try Painkillers

Feeling of fatigue and limb pain makes it fall asleep. Many Times during an episode of common cold you have these symptoms. You may also have fever mild to high grade.

Simple painkillers like paracetamol or acetaminophen relieve the feeling of limb pain and headache. They relieve fever. It makes it easy to fall asleep when you are relieved of these symptoms.

For correct dosages you should get help from your doctor.

Avoid smoking and tobacco

Smoking and tobacco worsen the symptoms of the common cold. Moreover these addictions push nicotine in your system which is a brain stimulant. It gets difficult to fall asleep with them.

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol stimulates your brain for a short period and then depresses it. It may give you acidity and gastric regurg. Alcohol also potentiates the effects of antihistamines and you may get more side effects when alcohol intake is continued with anti cold and cough medicines.

Keep room temperature comfortable

You may feel cold and chills when you have a cold. Sometimes you may feel that it is uncomfortable and there is sweating. It may make sleeping uncomfortable. 

You should just keep room temperature comfortable for you. Temperature around 18 degree celsius gives a feeling of comfort while sleeping..

Raising head level

Keeping your head at a higher level while sleeping may give you some relief from the symptoms of the cold. Head should be at a slightly higher level if you have a cold.

Avoid taking too thick a pillow while sleeping or you may experience neck pain.

Nasal saline drops or sprays

These are available over the counter and nasal saline spray and drop help to relieve the symptoms of the itching and stuffy nose. 

Rinsing nose

Rinsing the nose with saline water may help to relieve the symptoms for some people. It may make falling asleep easier.

FDA recommends rinsing of nose with

  • Distilled sterile water
  • Boiled cool lukewarm water
  • Filtered water that was passed from filters which can clear the infectious agents.

Do not use regular tap water to rinse the nose as it may contain harmful bacterias and parasites.

Nasal rinsing may not be safe for children.

Avoid loud music

Loud noise and music interferes with the sleeping habit. You become more irritable with noise when you have an illness like the common cold. You may get a headache with loud music. If at all you want you should listen to soft soothing music.

Try sleeping in a calm and quiet place where noise cannot disturb your sleep.

Dark room

Dark room with lights turned off makes it easier to fall asleep. Try sleeping in dark room.

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