Sleep is essential to everybody, but more so for a person suffering from a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who requires a good night’s sleep to breathe and function well the following day.
The American Thoracic Society highlights that several studies have shown poor sleep can worsen COPD symptoms in patients, sometimes even leading to complications with the chronic disease.
If you have this disease, it can be particularly difficult to fall or stay asleep when you experience pain, breathlessness, and frequent coughing. The Sleep Foundation reported that around 75 per cent of individuals with COPD mentioned having difficulty sleeping at night and other nighttime symptoms.
Certain medications used for treating this chronic condition can even make it difficult for you to sleep. For instance, inhaled medications, such as theophylline 4 (Elixophyllin, Theochron, Theo-24), can enhance chest symptoms but decrease sleep quality for COPD patients, according to the Sleep Foundation.
Several individuals suffering from COPD may also have undiagnosed sleep apnea, a health condition that closes off the airway almost to stop breathing several times at night, making it extremely difficult to get quality sleep.
Depression and anxiety could also work against people with COPD as they can cause insomnia or even worsen it. Though practicing breathing exercises for COPD can be highly beneficial, there are a couple of things you can do to enhance your sleep at night. Let’s take a look at them –
Adjusting Your Sleeping Position
If you want to take away some of the stress your lungs may be experiencing at night, try to sleep in a slightly upright position. Elevating your head a little bit can also be useful in preventing acid reflux, which tends to wake many people up at night. Because gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is quite common among people with COPD, you might want to make these minute changes to see a visible difference in your sleep.
Avoiding Excessively Long Naps During the Day
If you really need one during the day, don’t make it longer than half an hour. A short nap can be helpful in restoring energy, but a long one will only keep you awake at night and disrupt your sleep cycle, causing excessive daytime sleepiness. In addition, it’s best to avoid napping late in the afternoon.
Staying Away from Electronic Gadgets
It is a lifestyle change, but a much-required one. Every night, make it a point to turn off all your devices at least one hour before your bedtime. It would include laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices that trigger mental stimulation.
In addition, the blue light emitted by the screens of your devices tends to suppress the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, which makes it even more difficult for you to fall asleep. If it is absolutely necessary for you to check your screen before bedtime, make sure it is at ‘night mode’ while you’re accessing it.
Trying Some Yoga
Yoga is an excellent form of exercise that allows people with COPD to alleviate stress and control their breathing better. You can use breathing techniques for COPD in yoga to reduce the severity of fatigue and shortness of breath while improving the quality of sleep at night.
Maintaining a Consistent Sleep Routine
When you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including your weekends, it helps your body and brain to get accustomed to getting the right amount of sleep you require. You can also try to follow a pre-bed ritual, such as putting on your nightclothes, skincare, stretching, meditation, or reading, because it helps your mind understand that it’s bedtime, allowing you to fall asleep faster.
Considering Oxygen Therapy
People with COPD may lose oxygen in their blood at night, particularly during REM sleep (when we typically dream). You can use oxygen therapy to combat oxygen loss by sending more oxygen to your bloodstream. Though it can be quite helpful to many patients, it may pose a danger to a small percentage of the population. Hence, it is absolutely crucial to have a thorough discussion with your doctor regarding oxygen therapy before you start taking nocturnal oxygen.
Making Your Bedroom As Comfortable As Possible
You need your bedroom to be dark, quiet, and cool to get a good night’s sleep. You may want to buy an eye mask or light-blocking shades to keep light from getting inside your room, particularly from streetlights or early morning light.
Having a comfortable and big enough bed is also critical to getting enough rest. If you’re sensitive to sound, getting earplugs can help, and a white noise machine can also help drown other sounds.
Reviewing Your Medications
As a person with COPD, you’re expected to take a lot of medications. These prescription drugs take a toll on your body, and some could easily disrupt your sleep patterns. If you have concerns regarding it, it’s paramount that you talk with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. In many instances, your doctor could alter the time you take your medication to prevent it from affecting your sleep.
If you’re experiencing lung or heart pain, it can also keep you awake at night. Because pain is disruptive to sleep, you must tell your doctor how to manage it effectively, so you don’t compromise your sleep every night.
When it comes to improving sleep quality, it’s easier said than done with COPD. Because of this reason, it is essential to join a rehabilitation program that can help you with your issues and concerns. Apart from breathing, if you have heart issues that make it difficult for you to sleep comfortably at night, virtual cardiac rehab could offer you much-needed relief. Always remember that help is available to those who seek it.