Cold & Flu

How to sleep with a cold: The do's & don'ts

Cold and flu symptoms can make it tough to get a good night’s rest, which is unfortunate because often, getting a restful night’s 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 like runny nose and dry cough feel worse. Giving your body as much rest as it needs is important to help your immune system fight off cold and flu infection. Try these smart DOs and DON’Ts that can make sleeping with a cold easier – so you get the sleep your body craves.


  • Adjust your sleep schedule and give your body as much rest as it needs.
  • Take nighttime cold/flu medicine to help alleviate coughing and other cold and flu symptoms.
  • Consider using a humidifier or nasal decongestant—they could help you breathe more freely as you sleep.1


  • 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.2
  • 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 – because sleep and mood are closely linked. Follow these sleep tips when you’re feeling sick to help you wake up feeling better once again.