Home / Blog February 08, 2024

5 min read

Navigating the Night: The Best Sleeping Positions When You’re Sick

In this blog, we draw insights from sleep experts to understand which sleep position is the best when you’re under the weather. We also share how to regulate your room temperature for a speedier recovery

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Your sleeping position can ease the discomfort of symptoms like nasal congestion.

To sleep well when sick, maintain a consistent sleep schedule and limit stimulant intake.

It also helps to stay hydrated during the day and avoid strenuous activities close to bedtime. 

Did you know?
When we’re sick, our body often instinctively adopts the fetal sleeping position!

Whether it’s a persistent cold, the flu, or a bout of insomnia tagging along with your illness, finding the right sleeping position is necessary for a restful recovery. It helps to know the best sleeping positions to try when your body is really going through it so that you do not add discomfort to what you’re already experiencing. So, in the next few sections, we share practical tips and tricks on how to stay cozy and comfy until you’re feeling like yourself again.

Let’s dive in!

The Best Sleeping Positions for Common Illnesses

Here are some of the most comfy positions to try depending on the symptoms of the condition you’re dealing with

Back Sleeping for Congestion Relief

We recommend sleeping on your back if you find yourself at the mercy of a stuffy nose. Back-sleeping helps prevent mucus from pooling in your sinuses – which makes it even harder to breathe.

While most people think back sleeping is boring, there are several things you can do to add some oomph. First, consider the starfish sleeping position, which is anti-wrinkles and great for back pain too! And second, try placing a bolster pillow under your knees when back sleeping to add extra comfort and support for your lower back.

Side Sleeping for Improved Breathing

If you’re experiencing respiratory issues, then lying on your side is probably the best posture for you. Side-sleeping can help open your airways, which then reduces symptoms like snoring which is associated with disorders like sleep apnea.

When sleeping on your side, it helps to have an aid that will encourage your back bone to stay aligned throughout the night. One such aid is a body pillow, which you can place between your knees for added comfort.

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Elevated Head Position for Digestion

This is when you sleep with the top part of your body being higher than the rest. This elevated position is so good for issues like acid reflux. Using an extra pillow or slightly elevating the head of your bed provides relief and promotes a more comfortable night’s rest.

With severe reflux or heartburn, sleeping in a more upright position can prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. This can be achieved with an adjustable bed or by propping yourself up against additional pillows.

Next, let’s look at how to decide what temperature to sleep in when you’re sick to ensure that you’re optimizing your sleep environment for recovery.

Should I Sleep In A Cold Or Warm Room?

You may be wondering, “Is it better to sleep in a cold or warm room when sick?” Well – we've got a detailed answer for you! Below, we breakdown when to sleep in a cold room versus when a warm room:

You should sleep in a cooler room if:

1. You have a fever: For fevers, sleeping in a slightly cooler room can help regulate your body temperature so that you don’t overheat. A cooler environment may also help reduce sweating and discomfort associated with fever.

2. Your nose is congested: Cold air can help alleviate nasal congestion and make it easier for you to breathe, especially if you’re suffering from a cold or sinus infection.

3. You want to fall asleep easily: Most people find it easier to fall asleep in a cooler environment as it mimics the body’s natural temperature drop during sleep.

You should sleep in a warmer room when:

1. You have muscle aches: If you're experiencing muscle pains or spasms, a warmer room can help relax tense muscles and provide comfort

2. Your throat is sore: Sleeping in a warm room can help soothe a sore throat by preventing dryness and irritation caused by breathing in cold air

3. You’re experiencing respiratory issues: For people with asthma or other respiratory conditions, a warm and humid environment may be more comfortable and can help prevent airways from becoming irritated.

All in all, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should sleep in a cold or warm room when sick. Consider your symptoms, personal preferences, and consult with a healthcare provider if needed to determine the best sleeping environment for you.

Next, let’s consider a few additional tips and tricks that can support your sleep when you’re sick.

Should I Sleep In A Cold Or Warm Room?

How To Sleep When You Feel Sick

When you’re sick, getting a good night’s sleep becomes even more important for your recovery. Here are some general strategies to help you get the rest you need:

1. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment: Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using earplugs or a white noise machine to block out any disruptive sounds. Use comfortable bedding and pajamas that help regulate your body temperature and keep you cozy.

2. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, but be mindful of not consuming too much close to bedtime to avoid frequent bathroom trips. Waking up multiple times in the night will lower the quality of your sleep, making you feel tired even after spending eight hours in bed. However, if your illness makes you feel thirsty, consider keeping a glass of water by your bedside in case you wake up thirsty during the night.

3. Use Humidification: If the air in your room is dry, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air. This can help soothe a sore throat and alleviate congestion.

4. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene: Stick to a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even when you're sick.

5. Try Relaxation Techniques: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle stretching before bedtime to help calm your mind and body. Consider using aromatherapy with soothing scents like lavender to promote relaxation and sleep.

6. Take Medications as Needed: If your symptoms are making it difficult to sleep, talk to your healthcare provider about over-the-counter or prescription medications that may help. Be cautious with sleep aids and decongestants, as they can have side effects and may not be suitable for everyone.

7. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how you’re feeling and adjust your sleep environment and routines accordingly. If you’re feeling particularly unwell, don't hesitate to take naps during the day to help you rest and recover.

8. Use Sleep Aids: Insomnia when sick is a very common experience. Because of this, it can help to use a sleep aid like a weighted blanket, which can make your body feel more calm and relaxed. Our Cotton Napper, for instance, is a gently-weighted blanket whose chunky-knit design is perfect for when you’re having a fever and need to stay cool.

By implementing these strategies, you can improve the quality of your sleep and support your body’s natural healing processes while you’re sick. In the next section, we discuss some tips on what to steer clear of to avoid insomnia when sick.

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What To Avoid When Sick

When you're sick, it’s important to prioritize rest and sleep to support your body’s recovery process. Here are some things to avoid when you're feeling under the weather:

1. Overexertion: While regular exercise is beneficial for overall health, strenuous physical activity can strain your body when you’re sick. Avoid intense workouts close to bedtime, as they may make it harder to relax and fall asleep.

2. Caffeine and Stimulants: Consuming caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, or energy drinks can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Additionally, avoid stimulants like nicotine, which can disrupt your sleep patterns and worsen symptoms such as congestion.

3. Alcohol Intake: Although it may initially make you feel drowsy, alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle and lead to fragmented or restless sleep. Limit alcohol consumption, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.

4. Heavy Meals Before Bed: Eating large or spicy meals close to bedtime can cause discomfort and indigestion, making it difficult to sleep soundly. Opt for light, easily digestible snacks if you’re hungry before bed.

5. Screen Time: The blue light emitted by electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Limit screen time in the hour before bedtime, and consider using blue light filters or night mode settings on your devices.

By avoiding these sleep-related pitfalls when you’re sick, you can improve the quality of your rest and support your body’s recovery process. If your symptoms persist or worsen, consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment.


When it comes to sleep and sickness, the correct sleeping position can become a comfy ally in your journey to recovery. It helps to tailor your sleeping posture to alleviate your symptoms, so because of this – there’s really no one-size-fits-all position for when we’re sick. Generally though, it helps to ensure that you stay hydrated, relaxed, and that you set aside at least 8 hours of rest. This way, your body will feel encouraged to fight the germs away so that you can get back to your healthy self!