It’s that time of year again: flu season. And this year seems to be hitting us worse than ever. But did you know that the answer to preventing the flu might be as simple as getting enough sleep? Research suggests that getting enough sleep is vital for keeping your immune system functioning to effectively recognize and react to viruses, like the flu.
If you already have the flu, though, then it’s too late for preventative sleep. Now you need to focus on getting enough rest for your body to heal. While it can feel almost impossible to sleep when you’re sick, here are a few tips that may help:
- Sleep propped up: Use a bed pillow or grab a few extra pillows to prop your head up so you aren’t lying flat on your back. This will keep mucus from draining as you sleep, which can lead to a sore throat in the morning and a cough that can make it almost impossible to stay asleep.
- Indulge in a hot beverage or liquid before bed: If the flu has taken away your appetite, a semi-indulgent hot drink, like hot chocolate or even just hot broth, can fill you up and help you sleep. Hot tea with honey or lemon is also great, but be sure it is caffeine free. As a bonus, the heat from the liquid can soothe your throat and your chills.
- Take a hot shower before bed: The steam from a shower can clear your nasal passages, helping you breathe better. The heat can also soothe your muscles and calm your body down, which can help you fall asleep faster. This is actually a good tip to remember any time you have trouble sleeping, even when you aren’t sick!
- Use a humidifier: Humidifiers keep the air in your room moist, which can clear your nasal passages and help you sleep better. Note: Use a cold humidifier for your children, since they can get burnt if they get too close to a hot humidifier.
- Avoid alcohol: Hot toddies might sound good when you’re sick, but alcohol can have the negative effect of drying you out and swelling your sinuses. It could also negatively interact with any cold or flu medicine you take, whether over the counter or prescription.
Sleep is essential for your body to heal. These ideas can help you get some much needed rest if you get the flu so your immune system can do its job. Don’t forget to keep getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night even when you’re healthy to help your body’s immune system and prevent you from getting sick in the future.