Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night struggling for breath? Does it ever feel like the agonizing pain will never go away?
Having a good night’s sleep is vital to maintaining good health. Without sufficient sleep, the body cannot begin to heal itself, which weakens the immune system. It can also lead to mood swings and affect your ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Unfortunately, these issues are often shared among people with lung disease. When people with lung disease do not get an effective amount of sleep, it can cause their condition to worsen over time.
COPD Sleeping Disturbance
Sleep disturbance is one of the most common symptoms reported by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
According to the Confronting COPD International Survey about 40 percent of patients experience trouble sleeping.
Having COPD is directly associated with oxygen desaturation, which results in impaired sleep quality, particularly during the end of REM sleep. This stage can last up to about an hour, and breathing and heart rate increase throughout this time.
Patients with COPD experience the most interruption during this period, causing intense hyperventilation.
Sleep Better With COPD
Luckily, there are a few small changes that those with COPD can make for easier breathing while sleeping. One of those small changes is adjusting your sleeping position.
It is often said that the best way to keep the airways open is to avoid lying down but rather sit in an upright position. Although this method is extremely effective, it does not mean that is comfortable.
Trying to sleep straight up can seem more like a hassle than an escape. Sleeping on your side is more of a comfortable alternative that avoids any tension in the throat, which can hinder breathing.
Sleeping on your side opens up the airways and can tremendously decrease the risk of breathing problems.
Your head position is another factor that needs to be considered. When you are lying on your side, making sure that your head is propped in an upright position and not lying flat is key.
When your head is completely flat, your airways are restricted, which can cause hyperventilation.
Pay attention to the amount of head support you use is extremely important.
Too many pillows can cause just as much tension as no pillow. Using at least one to two pillows is best when trying to focus on maintaining an opening of the airways.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.