ATLANTA — ATLANTA—In the thick of cold and flu season, some people are wondering why their symptoms seem to worsen at night.

When you’re sick with a cold or the flu all you want to do is sleep. It’s difficult when every time you hit the pillow your coughing and hacking seem to kick into high gear.

11Alive viewer Dorian Martindale contacted Why Guy Jerry Carnes through Facebook messenger wondering why cold and flu symptoms seem to get worse at night.

There are several reasons that begin with your posture.

When you’re standing upright, all of the gunk produced by a cold will flow away from your aching head.

When you lie down for a rest, mucus collects in your throat and sinuses.

Dr. Jesse Couk of Piedmont Healthcare says elevating your head with an extra pillow can help.

When you’re awake, there are distractions that can keep you from focusing on the symptoms that are making you miserable. When you’re trying to sleep, you can’t help but focus on all the aches and pains, making your symptoms seem worse than they really are.

Your body has ways of fighting stress. Dr. Couk tells us that cortisol is a hormone that fights both stress and inflammation. It follows your body’s circadian rhythm. Your cortisol levels drop during the three to five hours after you go to bed leading to increased inflammation which makes you feel bad.

In addition to elevating your head, a hot shower before bed, and a humidifier in your room will open your nasal passages and help you sleep.


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