How to Sleep Better With COPD: 7 Effective Tips
It’s a universal truth that sleep is essential for all human beings. One night of bad sleep can completely ruin your day, your productivity, and ultimately affect your health.
For Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients, sleep troubles are quite common. COPD patients who have trouble breathing are more likely to wake up frequently and struggle to fall or stay asleep.
COPD can result in reduced sleep quality and fewer sleeping hours. When people with COPD experience sleep disruption and fail to get enough hours of sleep, they become sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation adversely affects focus, memory, judgement, mood, and other cognitive skills, in addition to making you feel and look tired all day long.
According to research from the American Thoracic Society, poor sleep has been associated with increasing COPD symptoms as well as a higher chance of developing disease complications.
The Sleep Foundation says “more than 75% of patients with COPD report nighttime symptoms and trouble sleeping.”
Medications claiming to help the condition can further worsen sleeping issues. According to the Sleep Foundation, inhaled medicines relieve chest symptoms but can also worsen sleep quality in certain COPD patients.
Anxiety and depression, which are common in people with chronic diseases, can induce or worsen insomnia in COPD patients.
Many patients with COPD also have untreated sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which your airway closes and you stop or nearly stop breathing several times during the night, making it difficult to get a decent night's sleep.
Tips to have a sound sleep for people with COPD
1. Change Your Sleeping Position
Sleeping in a relatively upright position relieves some of the strain on your lungs. Elevating your head slightly also helps prevent acid reflux from keeping you up at night.
This condition, known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, is common in people with COPD. Simple behavioural improvements, such as proper positioning, can improve GERD symptoms and the quality of sleep at night.
2. Stay Physically Active During Day
Exercising helps many individuals sleep better. Daily exercise, in particular, can improve adult sleep quality by reducing sleep onset – or the time it takes to fall asleep.
Additionally, physical activity can help minimise daytime sleepiness and, in certain cases, the need for sleep medications.
3. Make A Sleep Routine
Having a sleep routine every day, including on weekends, can train your brain and body to receive the necessary amount of sleep.
4. Consider Doing Yoga Exercises
Yoga is an excellent type of exercise for people with COPD as it relieves stress and improves respiratory control. Yoga can help improve sleep and lower the intensity of shortness of breath and exhaustion in people with chronic respiratory disorders such as COPD.
5. Oxygen Therapy Under Supervision
Overnight, people with lung diseases lose oxygen in their blood, especially during REM sleep (when dreaming takes place). Using oxygen therapy at night helps your body get extra oxygen into your bloodstream, which can help you sleep better.
Talk to your doctor if you have COPD and are not prescribed long term oxygen therapy. Many COPD patients start out needing oxygen first only at night. If you’re already taking supplemental oxygen, but not at night, talk to your doctor about changing the hours that you are using oxygen.
6. Test For Sleep Apnea
If you have any signs or symptoms of sleep apnea, such as snoring or gasping for air, consult your doctor for a sleep apnea test. Sleep apnea, which affects roughly 10% to 15% of people with COPD, lowers oxygen levels in the blood and disrupts the sleep cycle.
Wearing a nasal continuous airway pressure device while sleeping can effectively treat the disease, by gently forcing air through your nose to keep the airway open.
7. Keep Track of Your Medications
Discuss with your doctor about all of the medications you are taking and whether any of them are causing you to lose sleep. You may be able to change the time you take them to avoid them keeping you awake at night.
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