Many people with COPD find that their symptoms worsen at night. If you fall into this category, it's essential to get your COPD under control — as a lack of sleep can drastically affect your quality of life.
This week we're looking at simple measures you can take at home, to improve your sleep quality and help improve your night-time COPD symptoms.
Why do COPD Symptoms Worsen at Night?
When you sleep, you produce less of the hormones that create a natural steroid effect in your body. In people with COPD, this can cause an increase of inflammation in the airways and excess mucus secretion. In addition, people with COPD are at an increased risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA can exacerbate your symptoms and make your COPD worse.
Top Tips for Improving Your Sleep
GET YOUR COPD UNDER CONTROL
The first step in improving your sleep quality is to ensure your COPD is under good control. Discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider and be sure to review your current care plan. As COPD is a chronic respiratory disease, it can progress, and you may find that you need to alter your medication or drug delivery device to get the most effective treatment.
REVIEW YOUR MEDICATIONS
Some common medications that treat COPD can cause insomnia as a side affect, especially albuterol and prednisone. It's crucial to discuss your medications with your healthcare provider and make changes to your treatment plan as advised. The solution may be as simple as taking your treatment at a time that is less likely to disturb your sleep.
CHANGE YOUR SLEEPING POSITION
If you're living with COPD, it's likely that breathing is easier sitting up rather than lying down. Laying flat causes blood oxygen levels to fall, and lung function to slow. This can exacerbate COPD symptoms such as shortness of breath. Laying flat can also cause acid reflux symptoms to worsen — which is a common issue for people with COPD. If you're having restless nights, propping yourself up slightly to sleep could improve your COPD symptoms.
Consider Oxygen Therapy
Some patients living with COPD find that using oxygen at night helps them to sleep more soundly. Oxygen therapy provides extra oxygen to your lungs, making it easier to breathe and sleep soundly. In order to prescribe oxygen therapy, your doctor may want to conduct do some tests to see how well your lungs function. If the results of the tests show that your blood oxygen levels are too low, you may be put on oxygen therapy.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
When managing a chronic respiratory condition like COPD, it's crucial that you communicate any escalations or changes in your symptoms with your healthcare. For instance, if you have regular nasal congestion or heartburn, getting these symptoms under control can help to improve your sleep and overall health. In addition, if you smoke, seek advice from your clinician about quitting. Not only will this help your COPD control, but it will also improve the quality of your sleep.
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