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Britain is a nation blighted by bad colds with a third of us afflicted between two and three times a year. Nearly one in 10 people suffer with coughs and sneezes as many as four, five or even more times a year. Bed is the only place many of us want to be when feeling under the weather: but our sleep suffers, our sex life suffers and so does our work.

The startling extent of Britain’s bed-inducing cold bouts is revealed in a Sleep Council survey published today (Thursday October 27). The results come just in time for National Sleep-In Day - Sunday October 30 - the day the clocks go back, we all get to spend an extra hour in bed and also the start of the ‘streaming nose season.’

The results show:
• Six out of 10 working people take to their beds for up to a week or more each year nursing a cold.
• Sleep is a real problem for nearly nine out of 10 people when they have a heavy cold. 89% complained they either woke up frequently in the night or didn’t get enough sleep to make them feel better the next day.
• For more than half of respondents with partners (53%), sex goes right out of the window with the onset of sniffles – though more surprisingly a third of couples said a cold made no difference to their love lives. And one in 25 men said they actually feel even more up for it (only one in 100 women said the same).
• For half of those questioned (50%) the worst part of having a bad cold is suffering from a blocked up nose/sinuses. Three in 10 complained they can’t sleep because of congestion; 48% wake up frequently in the night. And most people (89%) agree that comfortable sleep is important to aiding recovery from a cold.

Dr Chris Idzikowski, Sleep Specialist, Edinburgh University Sleep Centre says: “Having a good eight hours of uninterrupted sleep when you are suffering from a heavy cold is essential for recovery, without it we can feel grumpy and over tired the next day. Taking to our beds to relax can make a real difference to the way our body’s copes with a heavy cold. ”

The survey shows that most people recognise there is little their GP can do, with half of those polled not bothering the doctor with a bad cold.

Instead, most of us still rely on either over the counter cold and flu products (64%) For one in five, just taking lots of vitamin C is the preferred solution.

For one in three of us, bed is the only place to be when bogged down with a cold: 34% of those questioned agreed that beds are bliss when they don’t feel well. And for nearly one in ten men, having the whole bed to themselves is the highlight of enforced bed rest.

While men like to sprawl out, women prefer to sleep propped up on pillows to ease congestion: four in 10 of them said they find this helps the symptoms of a heavy cold.

But the chance to catch up on sleep was the biggest bonus of bed rest for more than a quarter (28%) of those questioned – especially as for nearly one in five of us, beds feel even more comfortable when we’re not well.


For more press information contact: Jan Turner or Jessica Alexander at The Sleep Council on 01756 791089 or email

Note to Editors:
• The ‘Cold Comfort’ survey was conducted through OnLineBus, an Internet omnibus survey between October 11- 13 2005. A sample of 1,307 adults aged 16 – 64 were interviewed.
• For further information visit


 The Scots get the most colds with 41% of those questioned suffering an average of 2-3 colds a year (national average 33%).

 People living on the west side of the country are the most likely to head for bed with a cold with nearly a quarter (24%) of people in Wales, the West Country and the North West spending at least 2-3 days in bed with one each year.

 People in the Midlands are the most likely to feel tired and grumpy when they get a cold. One in three of those living there said it was the worst part of having a cold.

 People in the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside suffer from the most disturbed sleep when they have a cold with more than half (55%) waking up frequently in the night.

* Londoners are more likely than others to enjoy the luxury of watching television, reading or listening to the radio when laid low with a heavy cold. Nearly four in 10 (38%) of those questioned in the Grater London area said this was the nicest part of having to spend time in bed.

* People in the South East and East Anglia are the most likely (70%) to buy over the counter cold and flu products from the chemist when they have a cold while those living in the Greater London area are much more likely than those living in other parts of the country to fall back on herbal or homeopathic remedies (19%).

* Blocked up noses and sinuses are more of a problem for the Scots than anyone else – 57% of people in this part of the country said this was the worst part of having a heavy cold.



Getting a good night’s sleep can sometimes be a nightmare especially if you have a cold. Professor Chris Idzikowski has put together his tips for achieving a restful night’s sleep.

Sleep is controlled by how long someone has been awake, what they have doing and by their biological clock. According to Chris there are three categories to consider when preparing for a sound night’s sleep:

Generally sleep is induced in a comfortable environment. What defines comfort is different for each person, but it is known that the following affect sleep:

Temperature and humidity - neither too hot nor too cold; going to bed with a warm face, hands and feet helps. The room should neither be too dry nor too humid.

Noise intrusive and emotionally salient noise should be minimised.For example a mother may be awoken by the sounds of her baby crying but may not wakeup to other sounds of similar intensity. Similarly, a snorer who may generate as much noise as a pneumatic drill will not wake himself up!

Light affects the timing of your internal clock but also affects emotions and mood.

Mattress, pillow and covers – Make sure your mattress is well sprung typically you should change your bed every ten years. A pillow can help with breathing and prevent stomach refluxes, covers should be easily removable so as to prevent overheating.

Food. What goes in through the mouth can have a large effect on sleep. Some energy in food is released as heat when it is being digested and generally higher temperatures are associated with poor sleep. Common chemicals such as caffeine have a big effect on wakefulness. Caffeine is not bad in itself - a dose can help in the
morning, but generally it is not sensible at night-time

Alcohol in moderation (1-2 units) can be beneficial to sleep particularly for the elderly, whilst excess intake impairs breathing and is generally harmful.

Cigarettes impair breathing and withdrawal effects from nicotine can cause problems during the night, such as waking up during the night and disturbed sleep.

Medication. Many medications affect sleep and wakefulness. Always read
the labels.

Coughs and colds. Different remedies suit different cases. Make yourself as comfortable as possible. A hot bath and if not contra indicated a hot toddy, coupled with decongestant vapours is probably as much as one can do to get a good nights sleep!

Habit, night time rituals and routines, going to bed and getting up at the same time will promote sleep.

Mental turmoil. Don't take your problems to bed with you, mulling over issues will only keep you awake.

Visualisation helps get sleep started – regular breathing also helps calm the mind. Mental yoga is found to be beneficial by some.


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