My stupid nose won't let me doze.
September 9, 2008 1:44 PM   Subscribe

How do you get to sleep with a raging head cold??

Going crazy! Last night I honestly didn't sleep at all. I'm on the same track tonight. I've got that stupid head-cold thing where one nostril is blocked, so you have to turn over, only to have to reverse and repeat every 2 or 3 minutes. It's so irritating I CAN'T nod off.

I've tried Night Nurse (like Nyquil), Actifed, sticking my head over a bowl of steaming hot water...

...does anyone else have any other tricks? Please??
posted by InfinateJane to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly, Afrin and generic equivalents are the only thing I've found that really helps when you have complete congestion. You have to be careful not to overuse or hit the dreaded rebound congestion, thought.
posted by clerestory at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2008

wow, NyQuil didn't work? that's usually an insomnia cure for me.

try theraflu/tylenol cold n flu. its a powder you put in hot water. you could sell that stuff at a rave. it should decongest you and knock you out. feel better!
posted by supermedusa at 1:55 PM on September 9, 2008

I guarantee a million people are going to show up and recommend neti pots. Me, I've never worked up the nerve to pour a teapot full of warm salt water into my sinuses, but I've had roommates that swear by it.

(Try cutting out dairy for a couple of days. I dunno if it works for everyone, but it makes me much less snotty in general.)
posted by restless_nomad at 1:55 PM on September 9, 2008

Aw, feel better! I had the head cold from hell when I was pregnant and couldn't take cold medicine, and came up with the following list of additional helpers:

-BreatheRite Nasal Strips (less good luck with the generic brand...I like the Vapo flavor myself)
-Chloraseptic dissolving strips (anaesthetic, but unlike the lozenges you can go back to sleep without worrying about choking)
-Ayr or similar saline nasal decongestant
-Vicks vaporizer next to the bed
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:55 PM on September 9, 2008

Red wine. Seriously. Just don't combine it with Tylenol.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:57 PM on September 9, 2008

When you can't breathe like that, the only thing that's going to work is nasal decongestant spray. Get some.
posted by meerkatty at 1:58 PM on September 9, 2008

I love and recommend the Vick's Inhaler. It's a little chapstick-like tube that you hold up to your nostril and give a good sniff. It clears up my nasal passages pretty quickly.

Also, drinking plenty of water can loosen it up so you can blow it all out.

Also, try sleeping on your back with your face pointed at the ceiling.
posted by simplethings at 1:59 PM on September 9, 2008

Wow I misread the title in a sexy/funny way.

Back on topic: Red wine for me makes congestion worse so be careful there.

The night-time cold-and-flu pills (which are chemically the same as sleeping pills, I believe) work really well for me. Two or three and I am (a) breathing well and (b) OUT in 20 minutes. The only downside is that it seems to be a 4-hour sleep, after which I'm awake again.

Also, taking more than four once made me all groggy for three days. So don't do that.
posted by rokusan at 2:04 PM on September 9, 2008

use a lot of pillows. try to fall asleep basically sitting up, to mitigate the amount of terrible postnasal drip running back through your sinuses.

use the same things one would normally use to pass out:

* painkillers (if you can get your hands on syrup of codene you are golden)
* booze
* marijuana (eaten in baked goods if your upper respiratory tract is too tore up)
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 2:07 PM on September 9, 2008

Response by poster: I seriously envy you Americans and your 24-hour pharmacies. By the time I figured out nothing I have is working, it's after 7 and there's not a chemist open in the whole city.

Off to try the vicks & steamer. Thank you guys. If you have any more ideas, keep 'em coming!
posted by InfinateJane at 2:09 PM on September 9, 2008

You want real NyQuil, not the pansy-ass stuff they have in the aisles. Ask the pharmacist. (This assumes you live in the states and are subject to this ridiculousness of having anything halfway effective made majorly inconvenient to get.)

On preview, oh, damn, but I'll go ahead and post in case it helps someone else. And try a hot shower.
posted by sageleaf at 2:12 PM on September 9, 2008

I've found Mucinex to be the miracle stuffy-head-clearing OTC medicine.
posted by skallagrim at 2:14 PM on September 9, 2008

Hot Toddy.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:17 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm just getting over of a dreadful head cold myself, so I feel your pain. What worked for me was pseduoephedrine, specifically Sudafed 12-hour (120 mg of pseudoephedrine). Take it about an hour or so before you go to bed, to give it a chance to start working. Good luck and feel better soon.
posted by mogget at 2:31 PM on September 9, 2008

I like to add a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl of really hot steaming water, and put my face over that for awhile.
posted by at 2:32 PM on September 9, 2008

Agree with what sageleaf said.... the OTC stuff is becoming slowly pussified and various medicines that work seem to be moving behind the pharmacy counters or is being phased out with pansy substitutes. In specific here, I've found the nighttime relief with real pseudoephedrine is what helps. Generally a DXM + pseudoephedrine + acetominophen cocktail is what seems to do this (ALL three). I think TheraFlu with those three things has been axed but I've still found some in generic form. If that doesn't work, guess you have to mix it up yourself. Stupidass drug companies, stupidass legislators, stupidass pharmacies.
posted by crapmatic at 2:33 PM on September 9, 2008

Three Hot Toddies a night until you get better. My Nana has never let me down.
posted by elendil71 at 2:34 PM on September 9, 2008

Improvised neti pot: I mix up some warm salty water, draw some up into a straw (capillary action), tilt my head back, stick straw in nostril, release water into nostril, let water swish around in there, let water flow out, repeat.

Feel better!
posted by KAS at 2:35 PM on September 9, 2008

Nthing the recommendation for a Neti pot -- yes, it can be a serious "what the hell am I doing?" moment when you realize you're about to pour water directly into your own nose, but damn that stuff works (at least long enough for you to get to sleep). Try it an hour before you turn in for best results.

I'm also nthing the recommendation for the "theraflu" or "Tylenol cold and flu" powders in packets you mix in hot water -- you implied you're not in the US, so I'm not certain what brands you'd have, but look for what's comparable. Not only does it have the decongestent effects, but whatever other ingredients they have are DAMN strong to the point of being altering. I've always had extremely vivid dreams after using them -- one such night I had a dream that a good friend of mine had sat me down for a very lengthy conversation about how he was getting liposuction, and the next day I very nearly called him to "follow up on it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:42 PM on September 9, 2008

Best answer: I will give you one guess what I think!
posted by HotToddy at 2:44 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh what I'd give for an open pharmacy - My kingdom for a chemist!

If I add the number of times each suggestion is made, divide by ingredients I have in the house at the moment, and subtract the remedies already tried, it looks like MeFi's answer is ....Hot Toddies.

Steaming w/ Vicks is feeling a bit better sitting up, but not knock-me-out effective.
posted by InfinateJane at 2:51 PM on September 9, 2008

Sudafed, Actifed at night. Also, sleep on your back to even out the side-to-side pressure in your nose.
posted by rhizome at 3:11 PM on September 9, 2008

posted by Sassyfras at 3:51 PM on September 9, 2008

Vicks 12 hour mist works for me. It's a little addictive tho.
posted by EastCoastBias at 3:55 PM on September 9, 2008

Three hot toddies without too much sugar and prop yourself up to sleep.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:21 PM on September 9, 2008

I swear by Vicks VapoRub.
posted by Jahaza at 5:13 PM on September 9, 2008

Best answer: I employ the triple-redundant approach:
1. Drugs of choice (preferably including something to make me sleepy)
2. Blazing hot steamy shower with lots of hot water right onto my face and nose
3. Neti Pot

Actually, I've got the high-tech and fool-proof version of a neti pot that I bought as a kit at the local pharmacy. Instead of just a generic pot you get a plastic squeeze bottle with a little spout and pre-measured packets of salt to get the right salinity.

Best of luck.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:36 PM on September 9, 2008

Some of the ingredients in cold medicine can keep you awake ( sudafed does this with me for example)
posted by canoehead at 6:14 PM on September 9, 2008

Gotta go with Clerestory and Sassyfras on Afrin, but it doesn't appear to be available in the UK. The generic name is Oxymetazoline hydrochloride. I'm sure you can find an equivalent product. You do have to be careful not to over-use it, because it can backfire at that point, so stick with the recommended dosage. It WORKS, though, 100% of the time, so that's my vote.
posted by tzikeh at 6:55 PM on September 9, 2008

I like Sudafed PE (non-pseudophedrine). I don't know how easy it is to get where you are, but I prefer it because it doesn't give me crazy nightmares like regular Sudafed/NyQuil/Tylenol Cold PM does (serious!).

Also, I find that hot, garlicky, spicy soup always helps clear out my sinuses. Ramen noodles or even just canned chicken broth are fine; stir in a clove of raw garlic (hey, you're going to sleep! You'll be fine!) and as much sriracha sauce / red pepper flakes / cayenne as you can take.
posted by rossination at 7:03 PM on September 9, 2008

I also go with Afrin. It can have a rebound effect where you get swelling in the nasal tissue after it wears off. My solution is to take it only at bed time when I really need it and to use pill decongestants (like Sudafed) during the day.
posted by metahawk at 7:11 PM on September 9, 2008

Bourbon. Stat.
posted by The White Hat at 7:34 PM on September 9, 2008

Do you have NeoCitron where you live? It dries you up and knocks you out.

Or you can try lots of hot toddies and tylenol. You'll still have the cold but you won't care.
posted by orange swan at 8:01 PM on September 9, 2008

Yes, it looks like the UK does have Afrin equivalents - there are several different brands I turned up in searching. I used it myself when I was over there, but can't recollect brand names - I always get the generic kind here, so I don't pay attention. If you haven't used it, you'll be shocked by how well it works, seriously - 30 seconds and your nostrils are dry as a bone (which is kind of why you have to go easy on it).
posted by clerestory at 9:33 PM on September 9, 2008

Variant on hot toddy, involving much less effort (hey, I'm lazy when I'm sick. And I never have cloves or lemons just lying around):

Mix an egg-cup full of brandy, and an egg cup full of port.
Down in one.

Your sinuses will never be clearer, it doesn't taste terrible, and you will definitely sleep well. Plus, I've found it's much more immediate relief than sipping a hot toddy.
It's the only thing that made me NOT want to die when I had a The Worst Cold In The World a few years ago. I didn't believe it would work until I tried it, but I'm a convert now...
posted by indienial at 3:55 AM on September 10, 2008

If you can stomach seriously spicy food, that's another option. There was a Thai ground beef dish I ordered once when I had a bad cold; it was so spicy I could only deal with three bites or so, and each bite triggered a thirty-second fit of nose-running and coughing and sputtering. But after those three bites, DAMN was I breathing easier.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:17 AM on September 10, 2008

Benadryl. No, seriously. Nyquil used to work really good until some lame brain took the alcohol out.

I take 2 Benadryl (3 if it's really bad, but be careful about that) and two Tylenol. I use generics because I get the same result as name brands.

Benadryl is an antihistamine and it really does help, but it's also a hypnotic that many don't seem to realize.

In fact, Benadryl is the same thing that is used in Tylenol PM and Nytol.

I'd take that then a shot of your favorite bourbon.
posted by magnoliasouth at 2:09 PM on September 10, 2008

I've had the same thing lately.. seems to happen often around this time of year for me.

My answers are: Afrin, Neti Pot and then Airborne a few or 3 times a day for the next few days.
posted by imagesafari at 5:51 AM on September 11, 2008

Nasal Strips sometimes work.
posted by ifjuly at 5:34 PM on October 13, 2008

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