Man, I hate when I get sick. And it’s even worse when it’s my kids – that’s why we work on being healthy around here. Still, every now and then, there’s a cold or another minor illness we can’t control – and then we need relief.
One of the biggest issues is that sleep is important to recovery – and yet, it’s often nearly impossible to sleep with a cold or the flu.
You need more rest than usual when you have a cold or the flu, but coughing and congestion can leave you tossing and turning all night. Try these simple methods you can perform on your own or with a little help from your doctor and pharmacist. You’ll sleep better and strengthen your immune system.
10 DIY Strategies to Sleep Better When You Have a Cold
- Adjust your pillow. Forget about the outdated advice to prop your head up with an extra pillow. You’ll wind up with a stiff neck, and pushing your chin towards your chest blocks your airways. Instead, arrange your pillows so that you elevate yourself starting at the waist. You could also try lifting the head of your bed by placing books or bricks underneath the legs.
- Take a shower. Drain your sinuses with hot steam. Sitting near the shower is just as good as stepping inside if you want to keep your hair dry.
- Moisturize the air. Heated indoor air can irritate your throat during the winter. Keep a pot of water simmering on the stove during waking hours. Set out bowls of water. Be sure to change them each day to prevent bacteria from growing.
- Sip water. Begin hydrating from within. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water daily.
- Drink tea. Stock up on decaffeinated tea. Choose chamomile and other herbal blends formulated to help make you drowsy.
- Eat something. A stuffy nose can interfere with your appetite. Push yourself to keep eating. In addition to preserving your strength, you’re likely to sleep more on a full stomach.
- Breathe through your nose. Of course, you’ll probably need to breathe through your mouth when your cold is at its peak. Still, returning to nasal breathing as soon as possible will reduce further irritation to your throat.
- Cough less. Some coughs are productive when they expel mucus. On the other hand, it’s worthwhile to try to suppress prolonged and dry coughing that just makes your throat sore. Pause a second and check to see if you still feel like coughing.
- Go to bed on time. The good news is that you may be sleeping more than you think even if you feel like you lay awake all night. Lie down and think about something boring. If you must get up, leave the TV and computer off.
- Meditate regularly. Deep meditation provides many of the same benefits as sleep. A consistent practice will help you to focus your mind even when you have a fever.
How Your Doctor and Pharmacist Can Help
- Check ingredients in cold remedies. Pick a cold medicine that treats your individual symptoms rather than dosing yourself with more chemicals than you need. Avoid ingredients that may make you jittery like pseudoephedrine and diphenhydramine.
- Wear nasal strips. Start out with nasal strips that you wear on the outside of your nose to hold your passageways open. They provide relief without any adverse side effects, and they’re comfortable enough to wear in bed.
- Use a decongestant spray. If you require something stronger, try a nasal spray. Look for saline solutions or formulas with oxymetazoline or xylometazline. Use sprays for only a few days at a time to avoid any rebound effect.
- See your doctor. If symptoms persist or become more severe, talk with your doctor. Your health team can help you to avoid any complications.
- A good night’s sleep will help you to feel more comfortable and recover faster. If you’re like most adults, you probably catch at least one cold a year, so help your body fight off infection day and night.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t always get enough sleep–which is unhealthy and can also affect my personal level of happiness in a bad way.
Of course, stress and other health-attacking concerns are exactly what put me on the road to getting a lack of sleep in the first place.
And, since I know that I’m profoundly normal in this particular aspect of my life, I have put together the following list of tips from the experts on getting more sleep.
1. Quit drinking caffeine after 7 pm in the evening (or three hours before bedtime.) It sounds obvious for most, I’m sure, but I had to include this one because I’m guilty of sipping coffee in the evening hours on a pretty regular basis.
2. Get your exercise. Getting out and moving is not only a great way to increase your happiness in general, but it can significantly improve the quality and quantity of sleep. You’ll feel more like sleeping when you exercise–and you’ll sleep better.
3. Try EFT tapping. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique or Emotional Freedom Therapy (depending on who you ask.) The technique involves a series of acupressure, wherein you tap certain points on your body to create specific effects–including improved sleep, among other things.
4. Try not to eat three hours before bedtime, and especially snacks that involve grains or sugars. Why? Because grains and sugars will raise your blood sugar, giving you lower quality sleep. And, doctors say, when the blood sugar drops later, you could wake up and have trouble falling back asleep.
5. Sleep in darkness. Ok, I admit it, I’m guilty of sleeping with the bathroom light on and the TV tuned to Nick at Nite. I could go into the reasons I do this and why it works for me, but that wouldn’t be helping either of us get more sleep. According to researchers, even a small amount of light in your bedroom can disrupt your circadian rhythms, as well as your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, which help to naturally induce and enhance restorative sleep. So, they recommend, sleep without lights or television (which also stimulates the brain and can reduce your chances of a good night’s sleep.)
So how about you?
Do you find yourself giving up sleep to accommodate your busy schedule? What are your top tips for getting more or better sleep?
By Michael Blauner–Personal Fitness Expert in Bergen County, New Jersey
Experts say that you spend roughly one-third of your life sleeping. Certainly, you want to make every moment count toward the physical and mental rejuvenation that a good sleep provides! So, how can you enjoy a restful night of slumber?
Put these 8 tips into action now to experience some of the best sleep of your life:
Investigate your evening routine. Think about the activities you’re involved in from the time you walk in the door to the moment your head hits the pillow. The goal is to increase your awareness about what you’re doing and see if it could be interrupting your sleep.
- Are you playing catch-up by bringing work home from the office? If so, your mind may be on overdrive and unable to turn off.
- Do you find yourself consumed with doing household chores like laundry and house-cleaning? In that case, you’re probably lacking time for relaxation.
Plan to be in bed with the lights out for at least eight hours. Do you stay up until after midnight? Try to schedule evening activities early, so you can still get eight hours of sleep.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, you might want to make it eight and a half hours.
Allow time to unwind. If you’re super busy, you’ll probably be rushing around until you finally collapse on the bed in hopes of getting a few winks.
- Instead, give yourself at least an hour to shift gears and relax before bed. Everyone needs some downtime.
Clear your mind from the day’s chaos. Maybe it’s reading your kids a bedtime story or taking 20 minutes to meditate. Focus on shifting your thoughts from the intense to the trivial. A tranquil mind invites more sleep than a chaotic one.
Create an uncluttered, relaxing bedroom environment. Although you may think that a cluttered bedroom is benign, it may be preventing relaxation and interfering with your sleep. Besides, clutter draws dust, which can cause breathing difficulties during the night.
- The first step is to put everything away. Clothes can go into drawers or the closet. Put junk mail and magazines into the recycling bin.
- The second step is to organize what you have left. Place a lamp, reading materials, and your alarm clock on your night stand. Set the scene for a comfortable night’s slumber.
- The third step is dusting. Use a damp cloth and clean all the surfaces in your bedroom each week to ensure an environment where you can breathe easily. If you spend just 15 minutes dusting and tidying your bedroom, you can prevent future clutter.
Turn off electronics at least one hour before bed. The light emanating from backlit screens like cell phones, tablets, and e-readers can trick your body into thinking it’s daylight and time to be awake. Plus, it’s best to rest your eyes from such gadgets before trying to sleep.
Take a warm bath rather than a shower. If you tend to struggle with sleep quality, it may be that your shower routine is invigorating you rather than relaxing you. Sitting for a few minutes in warm water can help your muscles relax and prepare for sleep.
Practice breathing in bed. Take deep breaths through your nose, hold them for five to eight seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Do four of these breaths after you switch off the lights, and you’ll feel your body immediately relax.
Adopt these practices will help you create a restful bedtime routine. When you establish consistent relaxation habits, your body will become accustomed to them, and restful sleep will follow. Soon, you’ll be sawing logs with the best of them. Sweet dreams!
Inspired by The Art of Meaningful Living
by Christopher F. Brown, LCSW, MBA
Are you living your meaningful life, or is it buried under hundreds of different disappointments and lost dreams?
Meaningful living is choosing your passions over your fears. It is accepting what you cannot control and focusing on what is within your power.
Meaningful living is intentional, effective, and respectful. Meaningful lives are built decision by decision, one day at a time.
Your meaningful life is beautiful. It is strong. It is unique. It is within you. Your meaningful life is what you are passionate about. Meaningful living requires you to actively choose your behaviors based on your personal elements of meaningful living.
One way to define your passions is to prioritize the following 10 elements of meaningful living. The elements are inspired by the ideas of psychologist Kelly G. Wilson, PhD.
One element is not intrinsically better than another; they’re just different. Your meaningful life is unique, as are you. You define your passions and can live them. You can master your mind. You can act in ways that you value. You can have your meaningful life.
Friends are the family of your choosing. Friendships are far more than casual acquaintances; they require care and attention. When your friends and social life are central to your meaningful life, the effort feeds both you and your friend, plus the relationship between the two of you.
Expand your range of experience to develop yourself. Growth is characterized by continuing education, training in new specialties, experiencing other cultures, and learning new skills. Yes, growth can be painful, but when continual development is central to your meaningful life, the experience is worth it.
Care for yourself physically and emotionally because life can be difficult. You will need to heal from its experiences and lessons. Heal with adequate sleep, a nourishing diet, physical activity, healthy relationships, and professional treatments. This passion establishes your self-care as an equal priority with the needs of others.
When the growth and development of others provides you with fulfillment, nurturing is your passion. Parenting certainly can provide you a chance to nurture, but having children is only one of many ways to fulfill this passion. Nurture through mentoring or coaching. Care for other living things, like pets or plants. When nurturing is your passion, you nourish others to nourish yourself.
To partner is to join another person in an intimate relationship. These relationships are embodied by public commitments that unite one human being to another. Intimate partnerships require you to love, desire, and long for another person. Successful partnerships also require consistent care with each person able to be both I and we within the relationship.
Play is activity with the purpose of relaxing, amusing, and delighting you. If you have forgotten how to play, spend time watching young children; they’re the experts. Forms of play are only limited by your imagination. Adults play in their intimate relationships, hobbies, and pastimes. Whether you enjoy going to the movies, traveling to new places, or collecting vintage toys, it is all recreation, or a form of play.
This element of meaningful living connects you with who you came from: your family of origin. When connecting with the family you were adopted or born into is a passion, invest energy and time into your relationships with Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Cousin, or other kin who are important to you.
Serving a community, large or small, can bring great satisfaction and meaning. When actions of service consistently give you energy and contentment, serving is one of your passions. Serving in the military or government service, joining in professional organizations or activist coalitions, and volunteering in nonprofit organizations, neighborhood associations, or school committees are different ways to pursue a passion of service.
Transcendence is the ability to exist above and apart from the material world. Spirituality is transcendent. Your spirituality may include organized religion, or it may not. Regardless, you transcend when you believe in a power greater than yourself that connects all of us. Pursue this universal force by being involved with a church, a twelve-step program, or an organized meditation with a focus on connecting with a larger world. Creativity is also transcendent. Be open to your creative energy by transcending, or rising above, your day-to-day struggles.
When work is your passion, it’s more than earning a living; it becomes a calling. Careers and professional personas are often people’s defining characteristics. Providing for yourself and others is a way to build self esteem and confidence in your capabilities. Financial security can also be the means by which other areas of meaningful living can have expression.
I don’t know about you, but my life gets pretty busy sometimes. I’m not complaining, mind you, but I’ve got three beautiful kids, a wonderful husband, a career, pets…a home…jobs…friends…well, we all play plenty of roles in life.
Since I find myself so busy sometimes, I don’t get a lot of “quiet time,” as I’m sure you might imagine. And since I’m the sort of person who kind of needs a little quiet time each day, I often find that time by staying up late into the night, well after the family has gone to bed.
Some nights, I’m working. Other nights, I’m watching a favorite show on DVR–just so I can watch from beginning to end without interruption. Sometimes, I just don’t do anything at all. It’s all about having time to just breathe and be quiet.
So, that’s great, right?
Yeah, except that, in the process of trying to fulfill my need for quiet time, I’m cheating myself of something else that could potentially have a very serious impact on my happiness.
Because, of course, even though I stay up till the wee hours of the morning–I’m also a mom. And moms? They don’t get to sleep in.
So, what’s the big deal about sleep?
Well, besides the fact that lack of sleep can have serious consequences on your health–like increasing your risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer–lack of sleep has been proven to have a profoundly negative effect on your mood and overall level of happiness.
Studies suggest that even adding one hour of sleep to your nightly schedule could improve your happiness quotient more significantly than a $60,000 annual raise–and that one of the top two reasons people find themselves in a bad mood at work was a poor night’s sleep.
And, according to the National Sleep Foundation, companies lose around $35 billion every year in loss of productivity, sick leave, medical expenses, and property and environmental damage–all thanks to their employees’ sleep deprivation. And the consequences some people face are even worse.
So what does all this mean?
Well, for me, it means I’ve got a conundrum here. I need quiet time, and I need to sleep. Yet, I have kids and a happily busy schedule during my waking hours. So this means that I need to figure out a way to get more sleep and still find time for myself.
(Insider Tip: You can learn to use feng shui principles to increase your productivity when you sign up for Feng Shui Fest–it’s FREE!)