Thankfully, I don't get sick very often at all. Oh, but when I do happen to catch a cold, I would have to say that probably the worst part about it is the fact that when my nose is all stuffed up, it can be hard as hell to get a good night's rest because breathing through my mouth is annoying. Like, super annoying. So, since it is officially cold and flu season, I think we all know that this is the time when we're more susceptible to catching the virus known as the common cold than ever. As far as preventative measures go, it's important that you strengthen your immune system, that you wash your hands every time you come into your house and prepare to have a meal and that you get plenty of rest (no less than six hours of sleep a night, if you can).
Yet what if you already have a sore throat, stuffy nose, fever, headache and/or some fatigue going on? While (amazingly) there is still not an official cure for the common cold, one of the best things that you can do to reduce the amount of time that you have to endure the virus (because most colds stick around for between 7-10 days) is to get several consecutive nights of sound sleep. And how can you pull that off when you have some (or all) of the symptoms that I just mentioned? Hopefully these 10 hacks can give you some of the relief that you seek.
1. Eat Something Spicy and Drink Lots of Fluids Throughout the Day
Now here's something that just might surprise you. If spicy foods are so your thing, use your cold as an opportunity to treat yourself. The reason why I say that is because a lot of spicy stuff contains some amount of chili peppers and a bioactive compound in those is capsaicin. Capsaicin is great because it helps to break up any congestion you may have. Not only that but spices like turmeric contain anti-inflammatory properties too.
Just make sure that if draining mucus is bringing gastrointestinal issues along with eating spicy things that you don't follow through with this first tip. The reason why is because, if your tummy is upset, spicy foods can make matters somewhat worse.
Speaking of things that you should consume, it's definitely important that you drink as much water as possible. Water helps to flush out your system, regulate your body temperature and keep you well hydrated. On the topic of drinks, you should keep caffeine at bay. Since it has a mild diuretic effect on your system, drinks like coffee should wait until you're feeling much better.
2. DIY a Saline Rinse
At the end of the day, saline is simply a mixture of salt and water. The reason why it can be super beneficial when you have a cold is because this combo has the ability to literally thin out the mucus that is clogging up your nasal passages. Also, if there is anything in your nose that is irritating it (to the point where you are constantly sneezing or feeling like you need to do so), saline can help to rinse that out as well (because there is nothing worse than sneezing or coughing throughout the night, chile). While there are saline nose sprays that you can easily find at your local drug or grocery store, you can also make your own solution by combining distilled water and non-iodized salt together. For step-by-step instructions, Medical News Today has your back. You can check it out here.
3. Also Make Your Own Eucalyptus Oil Rub
Some of us have semi-fond memories of our parents (or grandparents) putting Vicks VapoRub onto our chest when we were congested. While I have nothing against Vicks personally, I prefer going the all-natural essential oils route by combining some eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil like sweet almond or coconut. Eucalyptus is dope because it's loaded with antioxidants. Plus, the properties within the eucalyptol that's in it can decrease bodily inflammation, break up mucus and even slow down coughing. So, if you're looking for some Vicks-like relief, give your own eucalyptus rub a shot. The results that it provides just might surprise you.
4. Gargle with Some Baking Soda
Sometimes, when I feel the beginning of a sore throat coming on, I will pour a little bit of hydrogen peroxide down my ears. While the fizzing is triggering as all get out, it does seem to nip the throat discomfort within a day or so. There have been times when I've gargled with peroxide too, although I think that gargling with baking soda is just as, if not more, effective. The belief is that sodium bicarbonate is able to provide an alkaline effect to your system which causes the virus to decrease in its potency. So, before turning in, take a stab at making a mixture that consists of one cup of water, ½ teaspoon of baking soda and (if you wish) a couple of sprinkles of sea salt (which detoxifies). If you gargle this for five minutes at night and again in the morning, at the very least, your throat will feel better. As a bonus, your cold symptoms may start to go away sooner too.
5. Take a Shower Before Turning In
When it comes to the viruses that cause a cold, do you know what they enjoy? They like to play around in environments that consist of low humidity. One way to combat that is to take a nice hot shower. While typically, it's best to shower in warm water (because it doesn't dry out your skin), the more humidity that you can drum up when you're congested, the better. Just make sure that you "seal your skin" as soon as you get out by applying your favorite oil (maybe sweet almond, grapeseed or jojoba) before your towel off; that way, the properties from the oil will "lock the moisture" into your skin so that it stays nice and smooth.
6. Drop the Temp in Your Bedroom
Germs thrive in heat. That's why, if you have a cold, it's best to keep your bedroom at around 65-69 degrees, if you can handle it. Besides, is there anything better than curling up underneath some of your favorite blankets? Absolutely not.
7. Use a Humidifier That Comes with a Diffuser
Remember how I said earlier that viruses loathe low humidity? This is why it's such a good idea to invest in a humidifier (because it creates a mist that increases humidity levels in the room that it's in). Oh, and if you really want to piss those viruses off, get the kind that comes with a diffuser too so that you can reap the benefits of certain essential oils that also work overtime to keep viruses at bay. Some of those include peppermint (it's a decongestant and fever reducer); oregano (it kills germs); cinnamon (it's loaded with antioxidants that help to strengthen your respiratory system); lavender (it lowers your stress levels); sandalwood (it's a natural sedative that helps you to sleep more soundly); tea tree oil (it contains potent antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties) and frankincense (it calms coughing and even aids in healing bronchitis).
8. Slightly Prop Up Your Pillow
When it comes to this particular point, think about it — when you have a cold, doesn't it seem like your nose is so much more stuffed up when you're lying down? While it's actually the inflammation of the lining of your nose that is causing the biggest part of the congestion problem, if you prop your head up with an extra pillow and then lie on your side, this also can help to bring you drainage and some much-needed relief.
9. Treat Yourself to a Hot Toddy
While it tends to come with some variations as far as ingredients are concerned, the simplest way to explain a hot toddy is it's a drink that consists of whiskey, honey, herbs, spices and sometimes some lemon. Although the heat of it alone can do wonders when it comes to soothing your throat, believe it or not, the properties in whiskey are able to help to dilate your blood vessels and reduce any congestion you might be experiencing.
Plus, when you add to it things like cloves (which contain anti-inflammatory compounds), ginger (which has medicinal properties to reduce inflammation and help to heal a sore throat) and lemon (which is loaded with antioxidants), it's pretty easy to see how it could be a signature drink, at least one of the nights, while you're trying to get over a cold.
(Some great hot toddy recipes to try and found here, here and here.)
10. Or Drink Some Chamomile Tea and Honey
If you'd prefer to go the non-alcoholic route, how about a cup of chamomile tea? As far as fighting colds go, it contains properties that help to reduce inflammation, decrease anxiety (so that you can fall and stay asleep faster) and fight cold-related symptoms. If you add some honey to it, the texture of it will help to coat your throat as its properties will aid in suppressing your cough and speeding up the overall healing process. You'll feel less "cold-like" within an hour or so, so that you can get the kind of sleep that you need to get over your cold so much faster. Sweet dreams, sis.
For more inspiration, self-care, and health tips, check out xoNecole's Wellness section here.
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