How To Sleep Better with COPD | Sleep Deprived | (2024)

How To Sleep Better with COPD | Sleep Deprived | (1)

A good night’s sleep is always the goal, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen this way. We’ve all been victims of insomnia and restless nights, but what toll is it taking on our health? A lack of sleep can cause higher blood sugar levels, liver problems, weight gain and severe depression. We should all be paying close attention to our sleep patterns, but new research suggests that those with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) may want to pay extra close attention.

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How sleep deprivation affects COPD

Experiencing flare-ups and challenges with your breathing can last for days or weeks and take a toll on your life, especially when they are caused by things that are out of your control such as air pollution and allergens. Although poor slumber can significantly increase the risk of life-threatening flare-ups and breathing problems, there is good news. The good news is that, for the most part, you have the power to control your sleep patterns.

"Among those who already have COPD, knowing how they sleep at night will tell me much more about their risk of a flare-up than knowing whether they smoked for 40 versus 60 years," says study lead author Dr. Aaron Baugh. He is a clinical fellow at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School and a practicing pulmonologist.

RELATED:What Can You do to Manage COPD?

If this news comes as a surprise to you, you’re not alone. Doctors are also surprised by the revelation that smoking, the leading cause of COPD, may not provide the biggest insight into your risk of developing a flare-up.

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"That is very surprising, and is not necessarily what I expected going into this study. Smoking is such a central process to COPD that I would have predicted it would be the more important predictor in the case of exacerbations," Baugh adds.

Poor sleep can also weaken the immune system and make people with COPD more susceptible to colds and the flu, which can make your COPD flare-ups worse.

Just how devastating is sleep deprivation to your COPD? To examine the impact of poor sleep on COPD flare-ups, researchers monitored sleep quality and flare-ups among more than 1,600 COPD patients in the United States for three years. All were former or current smokers.

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Poor sleep was strongly associated with a higher number of COPD flare-ups. Compared to those with the best sleep, the risk of a flare-up within the next year was 25% higher among patients with poor sleep and nearly 95% higher among those with the worst sleep.

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The findings suggest that poor sleep may be a better predictor of flare-ups than a person's smoking history, according to the authors of the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-funded study, which was published online June 6 in the journal Sleep.

"Sleep has not been extensively studied as a modifier of COPD outcomes," Marishka Brown, director of the NHLBI's National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, added in an NHLBI news release. "This study adds to a growing knowledge base demonstrating the harmful effects of poor sleep on health in general but [it] can be particularly damaging in people with devastating pre-existing conditions, such as COPD."

RELATED: 5 Things Getting In The Way Of A Good Night’s Sleep

How to get better sleep

COPD affects more than 16 million Americans and is a leading cause of death. Many people with COPD also unknowingly have

sleep apnea.

Luckily, if you have COPD, there are some things you can do to get a better night’s sleep and reduce your flare-ups.

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1. Adjust your sleep position

When it comes to sleep, your position matters. Sleeping in a slightly upright position will take some stress off your lungs, according to MeiLan K. Han, MD, a professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a spokesperson for the American Lung Association. Slightly elevating will also help prevent acid reflux (when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus) from waking you up at night.

2. Avoid napping during the day

Who doesn’t love naps? Unfortunately, those energy-boosting naps can worsen the cycle of poor sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness, according to the Sleep Foundation. If you can’t do without your beloved naps, keep them short and brief — no longer than 30 minutes — and avoid napping in the late afternoon.

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3. Unplug from electronics

We all are guilty of spending too much time on our electronic devices, but the blue light these screens emit suppresses the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. You can combat this by shutting these devices off one hour before bedtime. Can’t do without your device for that long? Try setting your device to “nighttime” mode.

4. Be more physically active

Exercise is something that improves COPD in general,” Dr. Schachter says. In fact, a moderate exercise routine can improve your body’s use of oxygen, reduce your shortness of breath, increase your energy and muscle strength, reduce anxiety and depression, and aid sleep, according to the American Lung Association (ALA).

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5. Try yoga

Have trouble breathing? Try yoga. A study published May 2021 in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice shows that yoga can reduce the severity of shortness of breath and fatigue and improve sleep in people with chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD.

6. Find a sleep routine that works for you

You may be tempted to sleep in on the weekends, but going to sleep at the same time every day will train your mind to know when it’s time to go to sleep. This will also make it easier for you to fall asleep.

7. Consider oxygen therapy

When you have a lung disease such as COPD, you are losing oxygen in your blood overnight as you sleep. Oxygen therapy can help you get more oxygen into your bloodstream as you sleep, which will result in a better night’s sleep. Be careful with this option though, it can be dangerous for a small percentage of people. Check with your doctor before trying this to ensure it is safe.

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8. Talk to your doctor

What’s really causing your sleep problems? There may be something deeper that is affecting your sleep such as sleep apnea or the medications you are taking. Your doctor will be able to help you determine if these are the cause and come up with effective solutions. You should also let your doctor know if COPD pain is keeping you awake at night.

COPD isn’t curable, but it can successfully be managed. Part of this starts with getting a good night’s rest. We hope these tips help.

How To Sleep Better with COPD | Sleep Deprived | (2024)


What medication is used for sleep deprivation? ›

Types of Drugs Used to Treat Sleep Disorders

Benzodiazepines, which are included in a class of drugs called hypnotics; some types of benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Diastat, Valium), estazolam (Prosom), orazepam (Ativan), and temazepam (Restoril).

What are the symptoms of severe sleep deprivation? ›

Feeling fatigued or lethargic throughout the day, yawning frequently. Feeling irritable. Change in mood including feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, paranoid or experiencing suicidal thoughts. Low motivation.

What to do if I didn't get enough sleep? ›

6 Tips for the Day After a Bad Night's Sleep
  1. Caffeine, in Moderation.
  2. Don't Rely on Sugar.
  3. Take Breaks.
  4. Simplify Your Day.
  5. Avoid Driving.
  6. Sleep in, a Little, Tonight.

What is the safest sleep aid to take every night? ›

Melatonin: Melatonin is considered one of the safest over-the-counter sleep aids, with few side effects. A prescription drug called ramelteon is designed to mimic the effects of melatonin. Like melatonin, it is not considered habit-forming and it does not affect balance.

What can doctors do for sleep deprivation? ›

How is sleep deprivation treated?
  • For sleep apnea, the goals of treatment are to help keep your airways open during sleep. This may include a CPAP machine or other breathing devices, therapy, or surgery.
  • For narcolepsy and insomnia, treatment options include medicines and behavior changes.
Mar 24, 2022

How do you endure sleep deprivation? ›

How to Survive on No Sleep: The Do's and Don'ts
  1. Number one, force your worries. ...
  2. Number two, consider taking the supplement valerian. ...
  3. Number three, nap lightly every day. ...
  4. Number four, try out a more comfortable mattress. ...
  5. Number five, get out in the sunlight soon after waking up in the morning.

How can I reverse the effects of sleep deprivation? ›

Give it time: Remember that it can take days to recover from a sleep debt. Increase your sleep time slowly, by 15 to 30 minutes at a time, until you reach the optimal amount of sleep for your body. Focus on improving your sleep hygiene and consistently getting enough sleep, and your body will do the rest.

Is there a way to fix sleep deprivation? ›

Creating a relaxing bedtime routine often helps conquer sleep deprivation and give you a good night's sleep. This can include taking a warm bath, reading, or meditating. Let your mind drift peacefully to sleep. But don't eat a large meal just before bed.

Can sleep deprivation go away? ›

Catching up on sleep doesn't reverse damage to the body caused by sleep deprivation, according to a new study. In fact, so-called recovery sleep may make some things worse. About one of every three adults regularly gets less than seven hours of sleep a night. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to changes in.

How many hours of sleep is considered sleep deprivation? ›

Adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. But sometimes, work and lifestyle factors may disrupt your ability to sleep. When you get less sleep than needed or no sleep at all, it's called sleep deprivation. For most people, a short bout of sleep deprivation isn't a cause for concern.

What happens to your body when you are sleep deprived? ›

Sleep deficiency can interfere with work, school, driving, and social functioning. You might have trouble learning, focusing, and reacting. Also, you might find it hard to judge other people's emotions and reactions. Sleep deficiency also can make you feel frustrated, cranky, or worried in social situations.

What are the 5 stages of sleep deprivation? ›

What are the five stages of sleep deprivation? The five stages of sleep deprivation are what you experience after 24, 36, 48, 72, and 96 hours without sleep. Sleep studies often measure sleep loss in these 24-hour windows.

How can I treat insomnia in 12 minutes naturally? ›

Aim for at least 12–30 minutes.
  1. Focus on your breath. Deep breathing exercises can help you quiet your busy mind. ...
  2. Find some peace and quiet. ...
  3. Take a blue light break. ...
  4. Read a book or magazine. ...
  5. Try herbal tea. ...
  6. Get comfortable. ...
  7. Try melatonin. ...
  8. Use an OTC medication (in a pinch)
Jul 18, 2023

What happens if you don't have enough time to sleep? ›

What happens if you don't sleep? Not getting enough sleep can lower your sex drive, weaken your immune system, cause thinking issues, and lead to weight gain. When you don't get enough sleep, you may also increase your risk of certain cancers, diabetes, and even car accidents.

What medication is used for not sleeping? ›

Examples include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Diastat, Valium), estazolam (Prosom), orazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion). These drugs may be used to treat parasomnias. Occasionally, they are also used to treat bruxism (teeth grinding) and short-term insomnia.

What is prescribed for trouble sleeping? ›

For example, a sedating antidepressant medication is often prescribed to help with insomnia. The most common antidepressants prescribed for sleep are Trazodone, Doxepine, and Elavil.

What is the most commonly used drug to promote sleep? ›

Sleep Medicine From Your Provider

Sleep medicines called hypnotics can be prescribed by your provider to help reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep. The most commonly used hypnotics are: Zolpidem (Ambien) Zaleplon (Sonata)

What is the first drug of choice for insomnia? ›

Zolpidem (Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar, Intermezzo, Zolpimist)

A sedative-hypnotic of the imidazopyridine class, zolpidem has a rapid onset and short duration of action. It is a good first choice for treatment of sleep-onset insomnia and produces no significant residual sedation in the morning.

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