Skip to content

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Cold Relief: 6 Sleep Tips to Help You Breathe Easier

Here's how to ease your symptoms, improve your sleep, and help yourself get well sooner.


“Studies have shown that menthol doesn’t actually open up the airways,” Marple says. “Instead, the cooling sensation it causes makes people feel as if they’re breathing more freely. And let’s face it, that’s what’s important when you’re trying to treat the symptoms of a cold.”

6. Sleep on Schedule

“When cold symptoms make it tough to sleep, paying attention to the basic rules of good sleep hygiene is more important than ever,” Neubauer says.

By now most of us know the basics:

  • Go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule. (That way, when bedtime rolls around, you’re in the habit of going to sleep.)
  • Avoid stimulating beverages like caffeinated coffee or alcohol in the hours before going to sleep.
  • Reserve your bed for sleep, not a place to work, read, or watch TV.
  • And if you do find yourself tossing and turning, get out of bed (and the bedroom, if possible) so you don’t associate bed with insomnia. Do something that you find relaxing until you feel tired enough to go to sleep.

Good sleep hygiene can be as effective as prescription drugs in helping some people sleep, experts say.

Getting enough shut-eye may be especially critical during cold and flu season, according to a 2009 study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The researchers enlisted 153 volunteers who agreed to be quarantined and then exposed to the viruses that cause most colds. Those who slept less than 7 hours were almost three times more likely to develop colds than those who got 8 hours of sleep or more.

1 | 2 | 3
Reviewed on October 03, 2013

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat