How can you rest if you can’t even breathe?
Rest is one of the best treatments for the flu or common cold, but that’s easier said than done if your nose is stuffed up to the point you can barely breathe.
Nasal congestion happens when the tissues lining the nose become swollen from inflamed blood vessels. This can also lead to a sore throat if the mucus ends up sliding down the back of your throat, which docs refer to as post-nasal drip.
To breathe more easily and get some much-needed (and immune-boosting!) sleep, try these home remedies.
Steep a mug of hot herbal tea. In addition to the warm, soothing effect of a hot beverage, the steam from the tea can help improve your breathing. Chamomile tea is a go-to tea for quieting the mind before bed, according to the National Sleep Foundation, or you could try a nighttime blend (a mix of chamomile and spearmint).
Add a little honey. Dark buckwheat honey, which is made from bees who collect nectar from buckwheat flowers, can help ease sore throats, suppress coughs, and thin out mucus. Have a small spoonful on its own, or stir it into your tea.
Steam up in a bath or shower. Like your mug of tea, the steam helps clear the nasal passages.
Pile on the pillows. You may be able to reduce post-nasal drip by propping up the head, which in turn can put an end to your coughing fits while you snooze. (Here’s how to pick the ideal pillow for a better night’s sleep.)
Try a saline wash with a neti pot. Normal saline, sometimes called isotonic saline, is basically salt and water. It’s called “normal” because it has the same salt composition as your own tears. Neti pots may look a bit unnerving, but they’re quite effective at helping you decongest.
Find more tips for treating the common cold here.
6 ways to sleep off a cold. Washington, DC: National Sleep Foundation. (Accessed on November 28, 2017 at https://sleep.org/articles/6-ways-sleep-off-cold/)
Common cold and complementary health approaches: what the science says. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017. (Accessed on November 28, 2017 at https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/cold-science.)
Good-for-you foods and drinks to help you sleep better. Washington, DC: National Sleep Foundation. (Accessed on November 28, 2017 at https://sleep.org/articles/good-foods-drinks-help-sleep-better/.)
Imeri L, Opp MR. How (and why) the immune system makes us sleep. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 Mar;10(3):199-210.
Stuffy or runny nose - adult. Washington, DC: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Accessed on November 28, 2017 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003049.htm.)