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Tips for Better Sleep with COPD

Jun 1, 2018 3:12:51 PM / by Cory Luckner

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an umbrella term for progressive respiratory issues like emphysema. chronic bronchitis, and asthma. In addition to breathing problems, more than 50% of COPD patients have problems sleeping. Sleep interruption may be caused by COPD symptoms or it could be due to side effects of the medication prescribed for the condition. This is an issue that requires intervention by a physician because the effects on respiratory patients are more detrimental than on healthy people.

In a patient, the effect of sleep deprivation lessens an already affected quality of life. The odds of mortality are also significantly increased if the sleep disorder is not attended to. Due to damaged lung or blocked airways, a patient may experience difficulty breathing. In another instance, COPD may cause oxygen desaturation in the blood. Waking up constantly to take medication or to urinate may also cause one to feel drained in the morning. Here are a few things you can do to improve your sleep pattern.

Follow a Bedtime Routine
Establishing a bedtime routine is useful in curbing trouble falling asleep at night. Have a consistent wake and sleep time. Do something relaxing like reading a book or listening to some soothing jazz or meditate right before bed every day. Keep the electronics away 90 minutes before bedtime. The LED light emitted by phones and tablets is a sleep deterrent. If after 30 minutes of trying to sleep you are still unable to fall asleep, get out of bed and move to a comfy chair to read a book or listen to some music until you get drowsy. Then return to the bed. Laying there awake is just going to make drifting off to sleep that much harder.

Make Your Bed a Sleep Friendly Environment
bedroom.jpgThe bed should be used for sleeping or sex. No watching television or working. This trains the brain and every time you get into bed, you will feel drowsy. The room should also be cool, dark and very comfortable. Naps in the course of the day are an enemy of sleep time. If you have sleep issues they should be avoided so that your body can get into a more natural rhythm.

Exercise is a very important factor in the management of COPD. Physical activity will stretch the muscles and strengthen the muscles around the respiratory wall. This will ease breathing in addition to helping one sleep like a baby. Exercise can be especially difficult for a COPD patient but consistency is called for. With time, the body enjoys an increased exercise tolerance. However, exercise and other rigorous activities should be avoided in the last few hours before bedtime. Those last hours should be used to wind down instead. The wind down should not involve caffeine or fizzy drinks though.

Adopt a Comfortable Sleeping Position
Sleeping position is another important factor. The position in which one sleeps may restrict breathing causing one to lose sleep. Therefore, a COPD patient should sleep on their side with their head elevated for easy flow of air. Many pillows are good as long as the material they are made from is not an irritant. A bed wedge is also a good substitute for pillows. Some even find that sleeping in a recliner helps with breathing.

Keep your Home free from Irritants
Certain irritants like dust cause COPD exacerbation. Patients are given a comprehensive list of things that could upset their respiratory functions and cause flare ups. They should keep their homes clean and allergen free.

Follow a Healthy Diet

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Eat a diet that meets all your nutritional needs. This is a good way to keep acid reflux at bay. A well balanced diet is important in the management of COPD. Don't go to bed hungry. After dinner, they may still feel a little hungry. The best snack to have at this time is one packed with protein. Carbs and sugar will just re energize the body and cause wakefulness.

Avoid Smoking
This may be the most important factor on this article. Do not smoke! Smoking is dangerous for non-COPD patients. It is a death sentence for COPD patients. Smoking will cause exacerbation symptoms like breathlessness and lead to lack of sleep. Smoking may also impair the success of therapy prescribed for COPD. On the same note, alcohol is also a very bad idea. It may make you drowsy at first but the effect wears off quickly causing you to wake in the middle of the night.

Take Breathing Lessons and Clear your Airways
Knowledge of breathing exercises is not only good in COPD exacerbation but also aids in sleep. Deep breathing techniques should be practiced frequently throughout the day. Before going to bed, a COPD patient should clear their airways. Secretions like mucus and phlegm can easily block respiratory pathways and cause loss of sleep. A patient should take a lot of fluids to keep the secretions thin and easy to cough up.

Get Tested for Sleeping Disorders
Check the medication labels for the possible side effects. If lack of sleep is not among them, then it might be time tosleep study.jpg be tested for a sleeping disorder. More than half of COPD patients suffer sleeping disorders but only a small percentage of them report to their physicians and so the condition goes untreated. In turn, COPD progresses a little faster than it should due to lack of proper rest. On the same note, timing the medications could be a problem too. If it is too close to bedtime, the medication could be causing insomnia. The patient should talk to their physician about scheduling medication time earlier. Take diuretics drugs in the morning and avoiding steroids as much as possible. Diuretics and steroids may cause frequent urination. It will be difficult to get enough sleep when you have to get up every now and then to use the bathroom.

Use Supplemental Oxygen
Use of supplemental oxygen is a last resort solution but if the sleep situation is critical, it should be discussed with a physician. Some COPD patients, especially those in stage four, are meant to be hooked up to oxygen 24 hours a day, bed time is not a reason to turn it off. Others are only supposed to use when necessary, a physician will need to give the go ahead before using it every day before bed or through the night. For patients with sleep apnea, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is important to aid breathing.

Join a Support Program
A support system for COPD patients is of the utmost importance. A support system will keep depression and anxiety at bay, which is cuts sleep deprivation causes by half. It is important that a patient develops a system to call out for help when they are having breathing troubles at night like a phone within reach or a bell. This way, the patient can rest easy knowing that help is within reach.

Avoid Stress

Stress is a major sleep deterrent. Stress could be caused by irritation at having COPD in which case one should seek out a support group. The stress could also be life related. In this case, it is a guarantee that things will get worse if symptoms flare up due to lack of sleep. That mortgage or job that is so worrisome is nothing compared to your well being. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other. All is well.

Lack of sufficient sleep can lead to a variety of life threatening health problems along with some inconvenient states of being. Sleep is important for rejuvenation, tissue repair and hormone synthesis. Lack of sleep can cause irritability and depression. One can also suffer from hypertension and heart disease because of the fatigue that comes with sleep disorders. A long-term effect of poor sleep quality is weight gain. Lack of sleep causes a fall in leptin and an increase in ghrelin. These two combined effects may cause one to feel hungrier and a lack of satisfaction from food. Hence, one eats more than they should. A COPD patient cannot afford to gain weight randomly. Getting enough sleep is an important part of managing COPD.

Topics: Sleep Apnea, COPD

Cory Luckner

Written by Cory Luckner

[Blog 2nd part here]