Sleeping well has been proven to restore our body from a long day of activity. It’s also a great way to boost and reset your immune system when you’re sick. Sleep allows our bodies to produce essential cells and antigens that are key to fighting off illness.
When you’re down with a fever, for example, your body is better able to subdue the infection if you sleep and get plenty of rest. That said, snoozing when you’re sick can sometimes be more challenging than it sounds.
Why Sickness Makes Sleep Difficult
If you’ve been feeling under the weather, you may also experience disturbed sleep. This might be due to a bad cough or blocked sinuses that wake you in the middle of the night or simply make your sleep feel uncomfortable.
Either way, being sick can lead to sleeplessness. Studies have found that symptoms of common sicknesses like the flu can worsen at night, making sleep an uphill battle.
Still, there are many things you can do to get a good night’s rest even when you’re down with the flu. Here are a few tips on how to get good sleep and boost your immune system:
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Generally, it’s rarely encouraged to go to bed wearing thick layers that restrain movement. In fact, it’s better to wear loose clothing that doesn’t trap heat in the body.
However, if you’ve got chills from a fever, consider wearing a thicker garment or a sweatshirt over your pajamas to help you feel more comfortable.
Your nightwear will be the first to determine how well you’ll be able to sleep at night. If you’re used to sleeping nude or in a sheer night dress, consider adding an extra layer to up your blankets to keep you warm.
However, it may be best to wear pajamas so you can easily change out of them when you start to sweat. Look for where to shop for women’s pajama tops online and stock up on a few sets so that you’ll have something comfortable to wear on days when you don’t feel well.
Remove the Clutter
Your surroundings can make you feel worse—or better—depending on how it looks. If you can’t stretch your legs because there’s a lot of clutter on your bed, it will feel doubly uncomfortable when you’re sick.
Before you get settled in bed, ask someone to clean up your immediate surroundings for you. They should sweep up balls of tissue, discarded pill boxes, and other trash items that will not only unnecessarily take up space, but could also potentially have remnants of bacteria or viruses.
If your space is a little dusty, have them do some quick cleaning with a rag or feather duster so you can avoid breathing in allergens that could irritate your throat.
Keep Essentials Closeby
If you’re experiencing a particularly bad bout of sickness, you may be bedridden and find it difficult to get up for a drink every time you need one. Some medications need to be taken on schedule and you may need access to water if you are taking medicine.
So if you need to take a drink or medication in the middle of the night, make sure to keep these items on a bedside table that’s within your reach.
Make sure to maximize the space on the nightstand and arrange your essentials in such a way that you won’t topple them over when reaching for them in the middle of the night. In this way, you don’t have to exert too much effort and can go straight back to sleep after taking what you need.
Set Your Bedtime Early
Don’t overwork your body when you’re sick. Straining yourself could lead to prolonged illness. Worse, you might get even sicker if you don’t stick to a regular sleep schedule.
Take note that your activity limit when you’re sick looks different from when you’re well and healthy. If you used to sleep by 10 pm on a regular day, you’ll need to cut down on your daily tasks and get to bed earlier when you’re unwell.
Take it easy and set an early bedtime. This should give you enough leeway to fall asleep just in case you have a hard time dozing off. Setting an early bedtime also lets you get rest even before you close your eyes.
The quicker your body starts relaxing and recognizing that it’s time to start recharging, the more likely you are to get better soon.
Put Away Gadgets Before Bed
There’s plenty of scientific evidence which shows that gadgets like mobile phones and laptops keep us up at night. When you’re sick, cut down your screen time and put away your gadgets before getting to bed. If you really need them, however, hold your mobile phone an arm’s length away from you to minimize your exposure to the blue light emitted by its screen. As much as possible, remove all other gadgets within reach and focus on getting some shut-eye.
Take All Necessary Medicine
Right before bed, drink all the medicine needed for your sickness. Your body will start metabolizing these as you sleep, so it’s best to take them before bedtime. Some medicines, like those for the flu, also tend to make you drowsy, so it’s not always advisable to take them during the day.
However, if your medicine happens to be a stimulant, like some decongestants, take these a little earlier in the day. This will help you still get the amount of medicine you need to get better without disrupting your sleep.
Alternatively, you can also try other means to decongest your sinuses, if that’s the problem you’re dealing with. Nasal sprays are good for blocked sinuses, and they won’t keep you up at night compared to oral medication.
Don’t Lie Flat on Your Back
Lying flat on your bed can be an uncomfortable sleeping position when you’re sick. Fluids gather in the throat and nasal passageways when you’re lying down, so you may find it difficult to breathe.
A more comfortable sleeping position is to prop your head up on a pillow or two. Elevating your head makes it less likely for mucus to build up. It will also help you breathe better, which makes for a smooth sailing sleep.
Let Off Steam—Literally
Steam helps clear your airways and calm a cough. Right before bed, sniff some steam emanating from a hot cup of tea. The scent and sensation are bound to calm your senses and help you drift off to sleep.
Also, make sure to drink the tea while it’s warm to soothe your throat. Set up a humidifier to keep warm and moist air circulating in your room even as you sleep.
You can also take a warm bath before bed, if you’re able, to help your body relax.
Sleep is essential to overcoming your sickness but the symptoms and general feeling of malaise can make it challenging to sleep well.
Being sick is an unpleasant feeling but you can make some changes to your sleep habits and environment to ensure that you rest well. Making the extra effort is worth it, however, because the more you rest and the better you sleep, the sooner you’ll start to feel better.