By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s no doubt about it — colds stink.

They are no fun during the day, but have you noticed the symptoms feel more intense at night? Tyler from Zimmerman and Connie from Menagha did. They wanted to know: Why do colds feel worse at night? Good Question.

“Gravity is really working for us during the day,” Natalie Ikeman, a physician assistant with Hennepin Healthcare, said.

The mucus can drain down the throat and people can more easily clear their passages. But, when a person lays flat at night, that mucus collects in the back of throat, which makes it hard to breath, and stimulates the coughing reflex.

Second, Ikeman says our bedrooms tend to be cooler and drier. They often don’t have the humidity needed to keep the nasal passages moist.

“When we have congestion in our throat, the humidity helps bring it up and there’s less irritation,” Ikeman said.

The third reason can be blamed on circadian rhythms and hormones. At night, the body’s immune system kicks into high gear to fight infections, and it can cause fevers or chills.

“Our body is designed to work like that overnight,” Ikeman said. “That part of the day when we’re resting, we’re repairing everything.”

And, finally some of the differences could be psychological. Nighttime tends to have fewer distractions and more space to think about the pain or annoyances of being sick.

Ikeman says people should try activities that help take their mind off the cold, use a humidifier, take cold medicine and stay as hydrated as they can.

Heather Brown

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