You’re exhausted. You’re in bed. But you’re struggling to drift off — because your nose is insanely stuffed up. You try to breathe through your mouth, but that just gives you chapped lips and a sore throat. Either way, sleeping feels almost impossible.
Rather than resigning yourself to tossing and turning until your sickness has passed, test out some of these strategies. You’ll have ample time to try them this cold and flu season — and they may be just what you need to catch some more ZZZs.
Don’t blow your nose.
No, that’s not a typo. I know this seems like the exact opposite of the right advice, but trust us. According to research in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, blowing your nose could actually cause the fluid — plus bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that cause inflammation — to travel into your sinuses. Blowing also irritates the skin around the nostrils, which can be another uncomfortable thing keeping you awake.
Don’t throw out your tissues altogether, but stick to dabbing away errant drips, and only blow if you really need to.
Counteract dry bedroom air.
Sleeping in a room with relatively low humidity can irritate your nasal passages and throat, and that will cause your stuffy nose to feel even worse than usual. A humidifier adds extra moisture to the air to combat this.
Prop up your head.
What might have felt like manageable stuffiness when you were standing can feel unbearable when you’re lying down. Apparently, that’s because when you’re upright, excess mucus in your nose can easily drain into your throat (sorry for the image). When you’re lying down, that process can’t happen, reports MedlinePlus.
The solution is simple: Grab an extra pillow or two and sleep on a slight incline. It might not be the most comfortable position, but it’s worth it for the clearer nasal cavities.
Sip this all day long.
Drinking water helps thin nasal secretions, reducing congestion, according to the Mayo Clinic. This isn’t a quick fix, but if you aim to stay hydrated throughout the day you’ll likely notice a difference in your stuffiness at night. Also smart: making sure to keep a large glass of H20 next to your bed at night in case you need to re-quench throughout the night.
Click HERE to read more from Refinery29