Choosing the best position to sleep with a cold can make the difference between waking up feeling better or waking up feeling worse. How many people take a cough suppressant or cold medicine at night to sleep, just to hinder the work of the medicine by sleeping in the wrong sleep position? Don’t let this be you!
Avoid sleeping flat
When you have a cold, do not sleep in a flat sleeping position. Sleeping flat on your back increases sinus pressure. This position inhibits your sinus’s ability to naturally drain, and can lead to a sinus headache, cranial pressure, and breathing difficulties.
Sleeping flat with a cold can also cause drainage to irritate the back of your throat. This not only results in worse sleep but can also create a sore throat to wake up to in the morning. Sleeping on your side is slightly better because it changes the angle of gravity on your mucus. But, because you are still flat, this position can stop your mucus from drainage from draining correctly.
The best position to sleep with a cold
Sleeping with your head elevated 20-30 degrees (or 10-12 inches) on an incline wedge pillow gives you the best shot at waking up and feeling relief from your cold. Sleeping in a slightly inclined sleeping position aligns your sinuses for the most efficient drainage. When your sinuses are draining effectively, your chances of developing a sinus infection decrease.
If you are a side sleeper or are suffering from drainage down the back of your throat, sleep elevated and on your side. This sleeping position minimizes postnasal drip, letting your throat rest and heal overnight. It also keeps your sinuses draining so that mucus doesn’t pool in your sinuses. The goal with sleeping with a cold is to sleep so those sinuses can drain!
The best position to sleep for a cold utilizes an elevated head position to enhance drainage, decrease throat irritation, and decrease sinus pressure. Start sleeping better with a cold today!
-Bryan Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy